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Is there 'real' need for referendum?

21 August 2013, 18:29 Paul Orodi

As the transition period gets increasingly busy with agencies and government organs trying to meet constitution implementation deadlines, there have been voices all over that are calling for referendums. First, it was the governors and senators alike but now focus is starting to shift towards the CORD coalition that is seeking to change the entire system of governance from presidential to parliamentary.

It is barely half a decade since we enacted the current constitution; systems are beginning to shape up and take positions as Kenyans strive to understand the various clauses on devolution and governance. The process of fully understanding the constitution is a long walk and the far we have come has taken numerous amounts of finances and other resources to get people to understand and properly interpret the constitution.

However, the governors and senators across the political divide have started to push for a referendum to increase the funds allocated to counties by the national government. They argue that the 15% stipulated in the constitution is a paltry amount and if devolution is to take root, there needs to be a change in the revenue allocation system. A question then hangs in the balance; how rational is this argument?

Already, there are scandals of governors misappropriating funds by purchasing luxurious commodities in the name of rolling out devolution operations. Counties have been faced with numerous scandals of governors apportioning funds for dubious activities like refurbishing their offices and purchasing irrelevant items. If the mere 32% allocated during this current financial year has already been handled in questionable ways, how then can we bank on the county leaders to actually properly handle the proposed 40%?

On another scale, the CORD coalition is backing a call for a referendum that will establish a parliamentary system and do away with the current presidential system. The ODM party in particular has gone a step further in calling for a change in the cabinet so that cabinet secretaries actually sit in parliament as members of parliament otherwise known as legislators.

The first push for a parliamentary system is a recipe for excessive spending. A referendum means billions being injected into educating the masses and organising the whole election process. Where are these huge budgets going to acquire their finances from? Are we as taxpayers ready to finance a referendum that might just be carrying personal interests and vendettas?

Whether we have a parliamentary or presidential system is not an issue; who we are electing to office is the real issue. It is important to understand that leaders ought to be of high ethical standards and integrity so as to enjoy good and stable governance. Unethical leaders whether in a presidential or parliamentary system will still drag us into the pit of oblivion.

Already, Kenya is past a heated election phase and the country is trying its best to regain stability through increasing investment and speeding up growth.

To take the country back to an election environment will be watering down the numerous efforts injected by citizens in bringing about increased growth and development.

In addition, the cost of conducting a referendum will push our costs to levels that are unprecedented.

Already, we are grappling with inflation and increased debt; do we really need to inflate our debt levels any further with a project that has no immediate and clear returns?

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