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MP accuses IEBC of double standards in the approval of “Punguza Mzigo” signatures

A member of parliament wants the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) to prove how it verified the authenticity of the over one million signatures collected by Third Way Alliance Party for the Punguza Mzigo referendum Bill.
Orange Democratic Movement’s (ODM) Voi MP Jones Mlolwa said the Chebukati- led body had in the past dismissed Okoa Kenya’s referendum push over claims that most of the signatures were forged.
He wondered how IEBC had approved Ekuru Aukot’s Punguza Mzigo in “record” time without having verified whether the signatures were genuine.
Mlolwa made the remarks at Mkwachunyi Primary school on Tuesday during the official opening of a newly refurbished block of classrooms.
He said IEBC was applying double-standards by giving a nod to Punguza Mzigo referendum push while some years back it had rejected Okoa Kenya on the basis of alleged forged signatures.
Okoa Kenya was an opposition-led referendum push in 2016 that flopped after IEBC declared that the proposal failed to meet the required threshold of 1 million signatures.
“These are double standards. When did IEBC verify all those signatures so that they can say Punguza Mzigo is legitimate while Okoa Kenya was not?” asked the legislator.
The MP further rubbished the Punguza Mzigo initiative terming it as detrimental to the well-being of devolution.
He stated that the push by Third Way Alliance was ill-intentioned and would see reduction in the number of counties.
He warned that the Punguza Mzigo Bill 2019 was coming to destabilize the counties.
Mlolwa added that the biggest reason for increased expenditure in Kenya was rampant corruption in the national government.
He argued that all elected leaders and counties took only 20 per cent of the national budget while the rest of the monies was under national government.
“This proposed referendum should be aimed at reducing corruption at the national government. Public offices and county government take very little of the national cake,” he said.
Mlolwa said Kenyans should wait for the Building Bridges Initiative (BBI)’s referendum proposal which would address all the challenges facing the country.
Punguza Mzigo Bill 2019 proposes to have a referendum to do away with nominated politicians.
Other proposals contained in the Draft Bill include reduction of the cost of running parliament from the current Sh36.8 billion to 5 billion annually, reduce the number of MPs from the current 416 to 147, make Senate the senior house with veto powers and increase the county allocation from the current 15 per cent to 35 per cent.
The Bill also proposes to cap the President and MPs salaries at Sh500, 000 and Sh300, 000 respectively.
Punguza Mzigo initiative suffered a setback after the High court in July issued an order to stop county assemblies from debating the Bill after two petitioners filed a case challenging the constitutionality of the Bill.
However, a section of local residents say they will vote for the proposals should the referendum be held.
Mr. Ezekiel Kiwa, a trader in Voi said reducing the number of MPs and capping their salaries was a good move.
“We are over represented. There is no need to have a crowded parliament yet nothing much is happening,” he said.
By Wagema Mwangi

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