Thirdway Alliance has collected more than 600,000 signatures in the push for a referendum. The party’s Secretary-General Fredrick Okango noted that they have collected 617, 800 signatures in the campaign dubbed ‘Punguza Mzigo’.
The Ekuru Aukot led-party has collected signatures in Naivasha, Nakuru, Molo, Thika, Kiambu, Isiolo, Uasin Gishu, Eldoret, Iten, Turbo, Elgeyo Marakwet, Baringo, and Samburu. “This week, we will be headed to Kisumu, Siaya, Nyamira, Bomet and Narok,” said Mr Okango.
Launched in April 2018, ‘Punguza Mzigo’ aims at collecting 1 million signatures to endorse a referendum. The initiative seeks to reduce the number of MPs from the current 416 to 194.
Under the proposed system, the 47 counties will be turned into constituencies, with each electing a male and female representative to Parliament. Each constituency will also elect a male and female representative to the Senate. Additionally, six members will be nominated to Parliament to represent special interest groups, bringing the total number to 194.
“Kenya is currently over-represented. A referendum will reduce the cost of running Parliament from the current Sh36.8 billion to Sh5 billion annually. This will save taxpayers Sh31.8 billion annually,” Mr Okango noted.
To further cut the wage bill, the campaign wants constitutional commissions to comprise not more than five part-time members who will be sitting on a necessity basis and shall be paid an allowance per sitting. The campaign also seeks to abolish the position of deputy Governor and have governors nominate one principal assistant from the executives for purposes of administration.
The campaign seeks the introduction of a 7-year one-term elevation of the Senate to an upper house with veto powers so that it can check on excesses in the National Assembly.
“Whenever an incumbent is leaving office, violence always breaks out. This will be a thing of the past,” said Mr Okango.
‘Punguza Mzingo’ also aims to stop wastage of public funds and cap salaries of elected leaders.
He, however noted that the campaign is not just about the National Assembly, but also bringing services closer to Kenyans.
“It is about devolving more funds for development at the ward level by increasing counties revenue share allocation to at least 35 percent from the current 15 percent,” said Mr Okango.
To deter theft of public resources, the campaign seeks to have corruption cases tried within 30 days and all appeals to be exhaustively concluded within 15 days. “These are views that we have gathered from Kenyans. They want to see the establishment of special courts to speedily deal with corruption and theft cases,” he added.
The other proposal is to abolish voter registration and to have every Kenyan aged above 18, and with an identity card or passport, vote from wherever they are. “This would lessen the budget of voter registration, which runs into tens of billions of shillings every five years, and to maintain a single database of citizens that can be improved and updated with ease,” he pointed out.