By Alfred Babanya
Building Bridges Initiative (BBI) politics dominated the burial ceremony of the Town Member of County Assembly (MCA) David Kadenge’s wife on December 11, 2020.
Proponents of the Constitutional Amendment Bill 2020 took advantage of the burial to drum up support for the impending referendum through chiding their opponents whom they accused of being insincere.
Kilifi County leaders, who included Governor Amason Kingi, Senator Stewart Madzayo, woman representative Gertrude Mbeyu, nominated Senator Christine Zawadi, MPs Michael Kingi (Magarini) and William Kamoti (Rabai), and Lands Chief Administrative Secretary Gideon Mung’aro, said the constitutional changes would be beneficial to the people of the Coast region and asked them to support it.
A host of MCAs from the county, while supporting the referendum bill, also took issue with the outspoken Malindi MP Aisha Jumwa for allegedly calling Governor Kingi Mombasa Governor Hassan Ali Joho’s handbag during the election campaigns for Msambweni byelection early this week.
Kilifi North MP Owen Baya, in whose constituency the burial was taking place, found himself in a tight spot, occasionally being heckled in his backyard, as Governor Kingi and Magarini MP Michael Kingi taunted him for allegedly being misled by outside forces to blindly oppose the BBI process.
To save face, Baya said since the referendum push was being supported by State machinery, it was bound to pass whether he supported it or not.
“Since President Uhuru and Raila Odinga are supporting BBI, and since State machinery is being used to push for the same, the Bill will be passed whether I support it or not. My signature is therefore not required for the Bill to pass,” he said as a section of the crowd heckled him.
Baya and Jumwa are believed to be in the Tangatanga team allied to Deputy President William Samoei Ruto, who has not declared his support or opposition to the process, choosing rather to advocate for consensus.
Leaders, who spoke during the burial of Ms Rachel Mbaji Majala, said the increase sharable revenue from 15 percent to 35 percent would greatly benefit the region which they said had suffered due to lack of adequate resources for development.
They also said the entrenchment of the National Government Constituency Development Fund (NG-CDF) and the Ward Development Fund as well as the additional four constituencies in the county would increase resources and thus bring about more development in the devolved unit.
Governor Kingi said the amount of money his county receives under the 2010 constitution was so little that it cannot bring about the desired development, but noted that under the new proposal, governors would have an easy time.
“My term is ending in 2022, but after my departure, your new governor will get more money than what I have been getting. The addition of four new constituencies will also bring more money to the county through the NG-CDF” he said.
He said those opposing the BBI process were the enemies of the people because what has been proposed in the Bill was more beneficial to the common citizen than to leaders.
Senator Madzayo said the amendments would cure the perennial land problems in the Coastal region as there were proposals to a change in the land laws to address land issues not just in the region, but in the whole country.
Mr Kamoti said the proposed 35 percent of sharable revenue to the counties as well as the proposed Ward Development Fund would do great wonders in the county and urged residents to support the referendum process.
“Currently, to get funds for development in the wards is at the discretion of governors. But now that it is being entrenched in the constituency, whether governors like it or not, they will have to set aside funds for the same,” he said.
He said the Constituency Development that has been taken to court for being unconstitutional was being entrenched in the constitution, thus giving it the legal backing that it lacked, leading to people taking CDF to court.
INSULTING FELLOW LEADERS
Magarini MP Michael Kingi said since those opposing the BBI process had sensed defeat; they had resorted to insulting fellow leaders. He called for unity among Coast leaders if the leaders desired to be taken seriously.
Woman Representative Gerdrude Mbeyu urged leaders not to mislead wananchi but tell them the truth about the BBI process.
Lands CAS Gideon Mung’aro said those opposing the BBI amendments were afraid of the provisions that corrupt leaders would not be allowed to vie for elective positions and that corruption-related cases would be concluded within two years and those culpable punished.
“BBI is not being opposed because it is bad, it is because of the provisions that corrupt leaders will not be cleared for elections and that corruption cases will be concluded within two years and the corrupt leaders brought to book,” he said.
Nominated Senator Christine Zawadi said although he was supporting Deputy President William Ruto’s Presidential bid in 2022, she had signed for the referendum bill because she had seen the advantages in the bill for the people of Kilifi. “I am serving to masters, President Uhuru Kenyatta and Deputy President William Ruto, because they are the ones who nominated me to the Senate. The president supports BBI while Ruto does not, but Ruto has not told me not to support BBI,” she said.