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Referendum quest: ‘Punguza Mizigo’ initiative sails through IEBC

By Mkarimu Media

The Independent Boundaries and Electoral Commission (IEBC) on Thursday approved ‘Punguza Mzigo’ initiative by the Thirdway Alliance after it garnered a million signatures as required by the law.

The plebiscite by the former presidential candidate Ekuru Aukot is seeking to reduce the president’s term of office, the number of Members of Paliarment and the number of counties.

IEBC said the initiative had surpassed the required one million signatures for any attempt to change the supreme law through a popular quest.

In a statement, IEBC Chairman Wafula Chebukati said the commission was satisfied with the signatures submitted paving the way for the referendum quest to be placed before the 47 county assemblies.

“In compliance with Article 257 (4) of the Constitution of Kenya, 2010, the Commission undertook a verification exercise to confirm whether the Punguza Mzigo Initiative was supported by at least one million registered voters. The commission had since verified that the Initiative has been supported by 1,222,541 registered voters.

This is therefore to notify the public and all stakeholders that the initiative has met the requisite threshold as required by the said Article 257(4) of the Constitution of Kenya 2010,” Mr Chebukati said.

As per the Constitution, once the signatures for the popular initiative have been ascertained the referendum’s journey shifts to the 47 assemblies where more than half must agree with it for it to move to the next step.

After ascertaining the signatures that were submitted on February 28, 2019, Mr Chebukati said the draft amendment bill submitted by Mr Aukot’s team will immediately be sent to the assemblies, through their speakers, who will then consider it within three months and forward their decisions to the National Assembly and the Senate.

“The speakers of the respective county assemblies will submit the decisions of their respective assemblies to the Speakers of the National Assembly and the Senate pursuant to Article 257 (6) of the Constitution of Kenya, 2010,” the IEBC boss added.

Punguza Mzigo proposals

The Initiative proposes a seven-year one-term president, reduce the number of MPs from 416 to 147 and scrap the position of Senators and other nominated positions in both national and county assemblies.

The initiative proposes reduction of number of counties from the current 47 to 12, reduce the number of Wards to 290 with four elected MCAs in each ward; male, female, youth and a person living with disability.

The number of ministries will also be reduced to 12 and the seeks to reduce the number of commissions.

The current counties will be converted into constituencies with the current constituencies being converted into wards.

It also seeks to increase county allocations from 15 percent to 35 percent of the annual audited revenues.

For the draft Bill to be passed by either House of Parliament, it must be voted for by a simple majority of the members. If approved by both houses, it will be sent to the President for assent. If the proposed changes require a referendum the President will ask the IEBC to call one within 90 days before assent if approved by the people.

Mr Aukot’s bill will require a referendum as it touches on the president’s term and Parliament’s functions.

This is the first popular initiative towards constitutional change to pass the first hurdle after a similar attempt by the opposition flopped in 2016.

Then, the IEBC said the signatures submitted did not hit the required one million.

According to Aukot the bill seeks to reduce the burden of governance to Kenyans that will see development geared.

“This bill is not about politics, it’s all inclusive, it’s about all Kenyans. The bill if passed will save 3.78 trillion every financial year,” Aukot told a presser on Friday.

He pleaded with President Uhuru Kenyatta and ODM leader Raila Odinga to consider and support the bill.

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