By MWAKERA MWAJEFA
Editor in Chief/ The Coast Media Group
FORD ASILI secretary general Njeru Kathangu thinks the country is sliding to dictatorship based on the way it is handling the revenue sharing formula through the Senate.
The party, one of the splitter groups of Kenya’s original party – Forum for Restoration of Democracy (FORD) – at the advent of multiparty 28 years ago, is concerned the ‘dark days’ of picking elected members from the precincts of Parliament are back.
This, according to Kathangu, is reminiscent of the past when MPs were picked from Parliament or from their houses to submit them and intimidate others as it happened to JM Kariuki, Martin Shikuku, Mark Mwithaga, George Anyona and himself in the 70s, 80s and early 90s.
“We, therefore, condemn in the strongest terms possible the strong arm-tactics and dictatorial tendencies exhibited by the government to compel the so-called Team Kenya senators into submission and support its motion on revenue sharing,” says he.
The senators, arrested under unclear circumstances on the revenue debate are deputy minority whip Cleophas Malala (Kakamega), Dr Christopher Lang’at (Bomet) and Stephen Lelegwe (Samburu).
Their unprecedented arrests and subsequent transfers to their home turfs on Monday (August 17) over specified charges forced the Senate to halt the controversial third basis of sharing revenue debate among the 47 counties.
BARBARIC AND PRIMITIVE
Ford Asili termed the night raids of the three legislators’ homes as ‘barbaric and primitive acts’ followed by frivolous charges on the lawmakers opposed to the government agenda ‘belongs to backward politics of the past’.
The party wants relevant House committees, Ombudsman, Inspector General of Police and Director of Public Prosecutions to move with speed in investigating the events surrounding the arrests of the senators.
However, the division of revenue stalemate at the Senate has exposed the underbelly of the Upper House portraying the leadership as ‘tourists’ in Kenya and against the people’s aspirations.
In an August 16th statement, Ford Asili notes that where division reigns, logic and reason out of the window then the society is doomed and its aspirations trodden on with extreme contempt.
“Parliament appears to have withdrawn from or not willing at all to serve the people while the rest of government has turned into a spectator,” says a worried party secretary general Kathangu.
The party is concerned that for a record ninth time Kenyan senators have met – amidst shouting, name calling and threats on how the vote should be taken – depicts a House that is totally devoid of leadership.
Out of Kenya’s total expenditure and net lending of Sh2.79 trillion in the current financial year 2020/2021, counties will receive a paltry Sh316.5 billion.
According to him the country is arguing and quarrelling about barely 11 per cent of total budget; that is, which Kenyans will get what fraction of the government’s token consideration.
Within the national government’s budget, the 633 billion shillingsearmarked for what is labelled, capital expenditure leaves very little room to know what the “formula” the Treasury use to identify the projects, allocate and disburse funds for them.
“For the country to get out of this deep quagmire reminiscent of creeping totalitarianism, Treasury should, immediately, publish a listof the capital projects to be financed in this current year, showing where these projects are located, how much will be spent on each project, and how the allocations balance,” he says.
Kathangu, popularly referred as Mtumishi, wants the Treasury, Controller of Budget and the Office of the Auditor-General to tell Kenyans other than the Sh316.5 billion to the counties what is happening and/or where is the reamining Sh2 trillion.
“We demand disclosure of the formula used in disbursing the funds to national government capital projects,” he says adding that time has come for citizens to formulate basis upon which the national government capital budget shall be put into use for the benefit of all taxpayers.
In the advent of multipartyism in the 1990s, Ford-Asili, under its de facto leader, the late Kenneth Matiba (died on April 15, 2018) and the fiery secretary-general Martin Shikuku (died on August 22, 2012), was a formidable party.
During the December 1992 election after the split of October 13, 1992 into FORD-Kenya led by the late Oginga Odinga and FORD-Asili led by Matiba, the latter was placed second after the late President Daniel Arap in the presidential race.
In fact, the power struggle for the leadership of FORD leading to the split became a boon for Kanu and a bane for the opposition that garnered 60 per cent of divided votes compared to Kanu’s less that 40 per cent of the general election.
Currently, under Kathangu and before the 2017 elections, the party rebranded itself from the original Forum for Restoration of Democracy (FORD-Asili) to the Forum for Republican Democracy (Ford).
The party’s SG went for the Embu County senatorial seat but lost it to the sitting Senator Peter Njeru Ndwiga.