Senators vow to defy Raila as Uhuru calls PG meeting

Tuesday, July 28th, 2020 00:00 |
Former Prime Minister Raila Odinga during a past interview at Milele FM studio in Nairobi. Photo/PD/FILE

Anthony Mwangi and Hillary Mageka

A section of Opposition senators have vowed to defy an order by Orange Democratic Movement leader Raila Odinga to support the controversial revenue sharing formula when it is tabled in the House today.  

Senators from counties that could lose cash in the proposed formula yesterday refused to budge and maintained the matter was personal and had nothing to do with party positions.

This, even as President Uhuru Kenyatta has moved to rally his senators to support the formula by calling a Jubilee Party Senate Group meeting this morning ahead of a scheduled vote on the matter today.

The President has been rallying senators to back the formula and efforts had been made to reach out to Raila to also rally his troops behind it.

And the Opposition chief on Monday, July 27, broke his silence on the formula by the Commission on Revenue Commission (CRA) that has divided the Senate down the middle.

“Having had a robust debate on this matter, the Senate should now allow the country to move forward by adopting the CRA report while using the concerns voiced for future recommendations on revenue sharing,’’ Raila said in a statement.

However, Senators Mohamed Faki (Mombasa), Stewart Madzayo (Kilifi), Issa Juma Boy (Kwale), Ali Wario (Tana River), Anwar Loitiptip (Lamu) and Johnes Mwaruma (Taita Taveta) vowed to reject the motion when it is brought before the House this afternoon.

“This is not about party positions but personal to us as senators from the Coastal region.

If it is passed, it will further marginalise our region, which has been neglected by successive governments,” said Madzayo who spoke on behalf of his colleagues.

They controversial formula favours populous counties at the expense of less populated but vast and marginalised regions.

Basic amount

“We are not going to bulge for the sake of devolution. The basic amount that any county should get is the shareable revenue in the last Financial Year,” the Kilifi Senator said.

They explained that counties have already prepared their budgets and if money is deducted from their shareable revenue, they will have no money left after paying salaries. 

“Where will they get money for development? These counties are already underdeveloped and cutting their revenue will make them poorer.

There must be equity when it comes to sharing of the national cake,” said Taita Taveta’s Mwaruma.

Outspoken Narok Senator Ledama ole Kina minced no words, saying, “I don’t and will not agree with Raila Odinga’s statement. My position is that I will stand for Kenya.”

“Raila has not prevailed on anyone. He just said that he has left the matter to us as legislators to look for a solution and solve the matter amicably,” added Ole Kina.

Nairobi Senator Johnstone Sakaja, Ole Kina and Makueni Senator Mutula Kilonzo Junior are today expected to move an amendment seeking to have the Sh316 billion contained in the current formula retained and shared among all the counties but any other money allocated to the devolved units be shared using the proposed new arrangement. 

The revenue sharing formula has thrust Raila to a tight corner bearing the unenviable task of persuading senators from his stronghold whose counties stand to lose cash to throw their weight behind the CRA proposal.

Deputy President William Ruto also broke his silence over the issue yesterday, urging senators to explore a win-win outcome. 

He tweeted: “The ongoing revenue-sharing formula debate is unnecessarily divisive.

The Constitution envisages fair and equitable sharing of all our resources. Hence, the Legislature must, as per its mandate, structure a win-win formula that is sensitive to proposals made without hurting any county. Inawezekana (it is possible).”

Collective decision

Marakwet Senator Kipchumba Murkomen said Jubilee senators will reach a collective decision during the Parliamentary Group meeting. 

“The buck stops with the party leader. The National Super Alliance (Opposition) has taken a position but us in the ruling party are left to shepherd ourselves,” Murkomen said. 

His Kakamega counterpart Cleophas Malala said he will be supporting the amendments proposed by his three colleagues. 

“The amendments are good for all and open a door for the marginalised counties to get their fair share from the exchequer,” Malala said.

Having fashioned himself as the champion of devolution, the controversial formula has put Raila in an awkward position, supporting a move, which seems to curtail dispersal of more cash to the counties, especially those traditionally seen as marginalised.

Raila’s stronghold counties to be affected include Mombasa, Kilifi, Vihiga, Nyamira, Kitui, Makueni, Narok, Taita Taveta, Turkana and Kwale.

In his statement, the ODM leader warned that debate around the formula had taken an ethnic tone.

“Five times, the Senate has failed to adopt its own amendments to the third basis formula for sharing revenue from the Commission for Revenue Allocation.

“This standoff is causing paralysis and mistrust at a time the country needs to be united and singularly focused on tackling the grave pandemic currently threatening the lives and livelihoods of our people.

It has also taken a dangerous ethnic undertone instead of being a level-headed debate on the nation’s development trajectory,” he said.

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