The Thirdway Alliance Kenya Leader, Ekuru Aukot on Friday claimed some influential persons in the country are intimidating Members of County Assemblies to force them to reject the Punguza Mzigo Bill.
Speaking to the media before addressing Members of the Kilifi County Assembly in an informal session, Dr. Aukot said he had received phone calls from counties the party had not yet visited, who claimed they had been intimidated.
He however failed to mention the names of the influential people, but asked the MCAs to discharge their constitutional mandate of representing the electorate and ignore those out to frustrate the process.
“We have received phone calls from members of some county assemblies we have not yet visited saying they have been intimidated and forced to make certain decisions concerning the bill,” Dr. Aukot said at the Kilifi County Assembly buildings.
Aukot, who was accompanied by other party leaders, including General Fredrick Okango, earlier paid a courtesy call on County Assembly Speaker, Jimmy Kahindi, who assured them that the bill would get the full attention it deserves.
Kahindi said since the bill had created a lot of interest in the county, it would be subjected to public participation in all the 35 wards, whose report would be tabled in the house for a final decision.
“I want to assure you that the views of members of the public will be documented and adopted by the MCAs,” Mr. Kahindi told the team. “We have already advertised the public participation sessions and we believe the views of the people will carry the day,” he said.
Dr. Aukot asked other county assemblies to adopt the method employed by the Kilifi County Assembly, saying this would be a protection measure against those out to intimidate them.
“I would like to remind the MCAs that they have a constitutional responsibility and should not accept to be intimidated or influenced by party politics. Those people intimidating the MCAs should know that the MCAs have a constitutional duty to the people who elected them,” he said.
He asked members of the public who agree with the bill to rally their support behind the MCAs so as to protect them from the intimidators.
He said Kenyans should not play politics on the bill but instead look at the merits and demerits contained therein.
The party leader dismissed assertions that the bill seeks to merge wards and reduce women’s representation, saying on the contrary, the bill recognizes the ward as the centre of focus in development while giving women a 50-50 representation in Parliament.
“The wards will remain 1450 and nobody will merge them because we want to use them as the primary units for accelerating development and inclusivity,” he said adding, “The allegations that this bill is going to merge counties and create regions in not true.”
“This bill is in fact elevating women because we are creating a 50-50 representation ratio contrary to the lie being peddled that the bill targets women as some of the burdens it seeks to offload,” he added.
He said some of the ardent opponents of the Punguza Mzigo Bill had started seeing the light, with former Prime Minister, Raila Odinga who favours the yet to be published Building Bridges Initiative bill confirming that the ward was an important unit in development.
“We are happy that the former PM now recognizes that some of the proposals in our bill are beneficial,” Dr. Aukot said.
On the rejection of the bill by the Siaya County Assembly, Dr. Aukot said he had received phone calls from MCAs enquiring whether there was a way for the bill to be debated since what was tabled in the assembly was an advisory opinion and not the bill.
However, he said the party would not revisit the matter, saying it would be an exercise in futility, but advised aggrieved MCAs to seek the intervention of the courts if they want the bill to be properly tabled and debated in the assembly.
By Emmanuel Masha