The bid by the Opposition coalition under the banner of Okoa Kenya (Save Kenya), seeks to have the minimum allocation to counties increased from the current 15 per cent of the government’s last audited revenue accounts to 45 per cent, a move that would be popular with governors whose referendum push on the matter is pending.
It also proposes that five per cent of the amount allocated to counties go directly to a Ward Development Fund to finance projects in wards.
Cord also proposes that counties be involved in some aspects of security management, another popular campaign by governors.
The movement also seeks to change the basis of calculations of allocations to counties from the current criteria of the most recent audited accounts to a share of the preceding financial year’s revenue.
Speaking during the launch at the Bomas of Kenya in Nairobi, Cord leader Raila Odinga said all MCAs in Cord controlled counties would be expected to support the campaign.
Wiper party leader Kalonzo Musyoka said the “Okoa Kenya” movement will hold the nation together.
“Isn’t it time we accepted this country needs salvation?…if we refuse to accept the importance of Okoa Kenya then Kenyans are going to teach them a lesson they will regret,” he said.
Senate Minority leader Moses Wetang’ula said the referendum push had just begun.
“It is today that we have to set out to traverse the length and breadth of our country to tell Kenyans why it is absolutely necessary not to allow Jubilee to hold the 85 per cent resources at the centre and continue practising the politics of benevolence with the people of Kenya,” he said.
The Bill seeks to introduce a ward fund to be administered by MCAs, and also proposes that the retirement age for judges be raised from 70 to 75 years. Some judges who were recruited before enactment of the Constitution in 2010 have gone to court seeking to be allowed to retire at 74 as their earlier contracts stipulated.
If adopted, MPs would have their campaign to save the Constituency Development Fund (CDF) and retain it under their control, by having it entrenched in the Constitution.
The push for a referendum was conceived on July 7 last year during a Saba Saba rally following failed attempts by Opposition leaders for a national dialogue with the government.
The “Okoa Kenya” referendum campaign was one of the 13 Uhuru Park declarations.
After the rally, a five-member Committee of Experts chaired by Mr Paul Mwangi was appointed to frame the referendum issues. The team has drafted the referendum Bill, which is to be presented to the electoral commission together with the signatures that Cord has collected.
Also present at yesterday’s launch was the 2013 Narc Kenya presidential candidate, Ms Martha Karua, 23 senators and 70 MPs.
“I want to tell those in government, this is good for you. When we say “Okoa Kenya”, we mean okoa all of us,” Ms Karua said. “There shall be no need to go to elections. It is important that we have far-reaching reforms before the next general elections.”
Part of the Bill provides that no single ethnic community shall occupy more than 15 per cent of government appointments in any state agency, government department or corporation, as well as in private companies. This is meant to address concerns that some communities dominating the public service, especially in senior levels.
Cord leaders said the initiative was aimed at strengthening devolution, bringing about national equity and enhancing accountability of constitutional institutions.
An attempt has been made to reinforce the Senate’s role with the Bill providing for accountability by governors and county governments requiring them to make quarterly reports on their revenue, expenditure and development priorities to the Senate and county assemblies.
The movement also gave great attention to electoral reforms with the Bill proposing abolition of the National Tallying Centre, the process of announcing election results and changes in the voter registration as well as the hearing of election petitions. Parties will also have a greater say in hiring of IEBC bosses.
The Bill is also seeking to remove the powers of the President in the appointment of the Chief Justice, Deputy Chief Justice and judges, vesting the same exclusively to the Judicial Service Commission but with approval from Parliament.