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Women legislators lobby Kenyans to vote against BBI referendum

Over  30 women legislators have rubbished calls for a referendum through the Building Bridges Initiative (BBI) saying that it is unconstitutional.

The parliamentarians, led by the Uasin Gishu Women Representative, Gladys Boss Shollei said the Constitution can only be changed either through Parliament or the popular vote and vowed to rally all Kenyans to vote against it.

Addressing  hundreds of women at Isinya town, Kajiado County during a caucus dubbed “Inua Mama, Jenga Taifa,” Sholei noted that all the issues raised in the BBI were already addressed in the 2010 constitution and the referendum will only increase burden to Kenyans through the creation of more executive positions.

“It is not economically viable to subject Kenyans to a referendum which will burden them more through the creation of more executive positions, when their top priorities are getting access to clean water, good jobs, health, quality education, tackling insecurity and poverty eradication,” she said.

Sholei added that the BBI was not inclusive but a cynical attempt at locking out some people from taking over the leadership of the country.

“There is no inclusivity in BBI. The inclusivity they are purporting to sell to us is to include a few election losers in government or extend terms of politicians in order for them to remain in leadership. We cannot have inclusivity without women, youth and people living with disabilities, we are not going to accept this referendum,” said the legislator.

Her sentiments were echoed by the Nakuru Senator, Susan Kihika, who accused the BBI team of being used by opposition chiefs to come up with positions which they can take over since they feel left out in the government.

“Let us not change the constitution because of one person who cannot accept when he loses an election. Instead of accepting the results, he comes up with a referendum which will include him in government. They talk of inclusivity but no woman is represented in their team. I urge you to reject the BBI referendum,” said Kihika.

The Malindi Member of Parliament, Aisha Jumwa said the BBI is about selfish individuals who have refused to go home and retire and instead come up with different strategies like changing the constitution to continue clinging to power.

Jumwa said that the current constitution is good and should not be changed to suit a few individuals who are well known perennial election losers.

“It is not the right way to go about it, it is sending a dangerous precedent so that if somebody does not win elections through the constitution they decide to change it. How many times will we change the constitution to fit a few individuals in power?” posed Jumwa.

She alleged the BBI was being used as a weapon by some people to scuttle the TangaTanga group allied to Deputy President, William Ruto.

The  Kandara MP, Alice Wahome  who is also the chairperson of the ‘Inua Mama, Jenga Taifa’ group, said the views of the common man were not factored in the BBI but those of only a few select individuals.

She accused BBI of not going to the grassroots to collect Kenyans’ views but instead held forums in big hotels targeting just a few invited individuals

“BBI has done nothing in terms of reaching the common mwananchi. They have been moving from one hotel to another collecting views of just handful individuals. Their report will not represent views of majority of Kenyans,” she added.

Wahome urged Kenyans to reject a referendum which does not prioritize job creation, women empowerment and increased funds to the counties.

Some 33 Women groups from Kajiado County were given Sh.3 million during the function to boost their businesses.

The Nominated Senator, Mary Seneta urged women not to approve referendum calls that would end up scrapping the Women Representative seats as it ensures that the one third gender rule is attained and further urged them to support fellow women who seek elective seats.

By  Rop  Janet

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