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DP braves hostile crowd to fault proposals

By Anthony Mwangi
Tuesday, October 27th, 2020
Deputy President William Ruto with Mbita MP Millie Odhiambo at Bomas of Kenya, yesterday. Photo/DPPS
In summary
    • Most of the issues the Deputy President William Ruto raised have been at the centre of the differences between the Executive and independent bodies.
    • Ruto also said the BBI draft failed to address issues to do with agriculture as proposed by Kenyans.

Deputy President William Ruto yesterday braved a hostile Bomas of Kenya auditorium to poke holes in the Building Bridges Initiative (BBI) report.

The DP highlighted areas he said should be improved further before it is subjected to a referendum.

Ruto, who spoke amid boos from the over 6,000 delegates, took issue with the document, saying it did not adequately address the issue of inclusivity in government.

“This proposal, as it is, is open to manipulation by the winner. It is as simple as that; President Uhuru Kenyatta here, I as the deputy, Amos Kimunya, Samuel Pogishio, Maoka Maore and Jimmy Angweny filling the positions of the Prime Minister and deputies,” observed the DP in reference to the current parliamentary leadership.

“Where does that leave the National Super Alliance team? Musalia Mudavadi here,” he went on, amid murmurs of protest from a section of delegates.

The Deputy President charged that the document fell short of achieving its ultimate goal of ensuring inclusivity in future political dispensation. 

Previous criticism

The report was unveiled last week by President Uhuru and Opposition leader Raila Odinga at the Kisii State Lodge. Ruto snubbed the event.

The DP also called for a review of the proposal in the report regarding creation of the position of a Judiciary Ombudsman appointed by the President, saying it would erode the powers of the Chief Justice.

Ruto confounded many when he turned up early at the function following his previous criticism of the report.

Speaking in Kakamega on Sunday, the DP and his allies had warned that Kenyans would reject the report if it only addressed sharing of leadership positions at the expense of issues affecting the common mwananchi.

Come yesterday, and Ruto showed up at the event, sitting calmly as various speakers criticised his ‘hustler’ narrative in what appeared to be a well-choreographed narrative.  

Among those who criticised the ‘hustler’ narrative included Wiper leader Kalonzo Musyoka, Central Organisation of Trade Unions Secretary General Francis Atwoli, Kitui Governor Charity Ngilu and Senate Majority Leader Samuel Poghosio.

The BBI report provides for the nomination and appointment of the Ombudsman for a five-year term by the President with the approval of the National Assembly, a proposal Ruto disagreed with.

 “This will be a derogation of courts’ independence enjoyed by the Judiciary. We also need to help our people access justice by establishing more courts, at least a High Court in every county and courts in each sub-county,” Ruto cautioned.

He stated that currently, up to 160 sub-counties do not have courts.

Said the DP: “We must be careful about the independence of institutions. We are coming from a history where judges used to receive phone calls after meetings were held at night. We do not want to go back there.”

Transparency

The document proposes that the holder of the office of the Ombudsman engages with the public on the role and performance of Judiciary and also improves the transparency of the court.                       

On the reorganisation of the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC), Ruto questioned the proposition to have the commissioners picked by political parties.

He gave an example of a football tournament in which only some teams would be allowed to choose the referee.“We must review the issue of political parties picking commissioners. How fair will be a tournament where a referee is appointed by teams and not all teams?” Ruto said amid murmurs from a section of the audience.

Takes issue 

He also cautioned that establishing a Police Council to be chaired by Interior Cabinet Secretary will be a deviation from the independence of the police.

“Today you may have a foot on one shoe, tomorrow it will be different. We must make laws for posterity,” warned the DP.

The defiant DP also took issue with the downgrading of the Senate’s mandate, saying the Upper House should be empowered instead.

“As it is in the report, the Senate cannot continue to have the constitutional mandate of revenue allocation. Senate must be upgraded to Upper House,” he said.

He added it would be an exercise in futility to move elected women to the Senate and then downgrade the same House.

“We should strive to make women substantive decision-makers, not nominal leaders,” cautioned Ruto as women leaders present ululated in agreement.

The DP took a moment to respond to a youth leader, Alex Matere, who had rubbished his now infamous wheelbarrow movement, terming it an invention from the 16th century, which was obsolete.

‘Although invented in the 16th century, a wheelbarrow still comes in handy to date. How can an item invented centuries ago be a form of conversation to date?” posed the DP.

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