The announcement by former vice president Kalonzo Musyoka that he is opposed to the creation of regional premiers proposed by the Building Bridges Initiative proponents has once again left his followers at a crossroads as he did in the runup to the last referendum campaigns in 2010 when he kept facing left and right until the last minute in which he finally, decided to throw his weight behind the Yes camp headed by his then boss president Mwai Kibaki.
Speaking last week, Kalonzo said that as much as he agrees substantially with what is in the BBI proposed report, he is not in support of the creation of regional governments as this will mean the taxpayer being squeezed even further. In this, Kalonzo is in sync with Kenyans who see regional governments as yet another heavy burden being foisted on their already overloaded shoulders. The regional governments which are a third-tier administration on top of the national government and the county governments will be fashioned out of the defunct eight provinces which will be split to form 14 regions. If those behind the idea whose chief architect is Raila Odinga have their way, Kenya will see the dead provincial units exhumed from the grave that they were partly buried by the new constitution.
The formation of a third-tier has also been opposed by William Ruto who while addressing a high level gathering at the prestigious Chatham House in London last year wondered why anyone would seek to add another layer of governance on the people when the layers in place are already draining the country’s resources. As a matter of fact, it has been noted that some counties are merely employment institutions offering jobs to people whereby after they pay the staff there is nothing or too little left for carrying out development projects. It is against this background that those who are against provincial governments or whatever name they will go by the fear that adding yet another level of governance will eat into the meager resources the country has and therefore serve to only increase poverty as there will be no money to construct roads for people to take their crop to the market and public hospitals will be starved of drugs hence pushing people to private hospitals for those who can spare any money for treatment while those who rely on public hospitals will simply stay at home and wait to die.
It will be interesting to seeing the inclusion of provincial governments will be enough to have Kalonzo reject the BBI referendum altogether or whether he will consider it too light to outweigh the supposed good that he sees in BBI. It will be recalled that in the last referendum, Kalonzo spent too much time making up his mind as to which side was beneficial to wananchi which earned him the tag of watermelon for allegedly being green outside meaning that he was Yes and at the same time being red inside which was the colour of No camp. At the time, Kalonzo was unable to make his mind in time because his Ukambani backyard was solidly No courtesy of the church that held sway in the Godfearing community that had been made to believe that the new constitution was going to introduce unchristian habits. Even after Kalonzo went green, his backyard did not go with him and Kambaland and Kalenjinland were the only regions where the No carried the day.
Kalonzo is the political kingpin of the three counties of Ukambani and in the new setup, the three Ukambani counties are to be merged into one region. Although Mutua has declared that he will go for the president’s seat that Kalonzo is also eyeing, it is said that this is a ploy by Mutua to up his ante so that he later announces that he has decided to go for the regional governor seat instead. In this, Mutua could face Kivutha Kibwana who incidentally has declared that he will go for president of Kenya. The other part of Eastern comprising Meru and Embu and Tharaka-Nithi will be collapsed into one region. As it is the regional post is seen by many as Raila’s scheme to have governors who support and who are in their second and last term and therefore with nowhere to go, to run for the regional seat. Raila, it is said, is calculating that with the governors the likes of Ali Joho of Mombasa, Wycliffe Oparanya of Kakamega and even Mutua gunning for the seat, their voters would also cast their vote for Raila.
As would be expected, this advance allocation of seats has seen many Kenyans believe that the BBI is only about the creation of positions for a few at the expense of the many who will have to foot the bill. Former Machakos senator has flatly opposed the BBI referendum. Muthama has been flying the Ruto flag in Ukambani where his foes now accuse him of auctioning the community to Ruto and have reminded him that they have not forgotten that he allegedly pocketed millions that Raila had sent him to take to Kalonzo as part of the coalition deal in 2013 money that Kalonzo was not even aware was being negotiated. It is said that he also pocketed more millions in 2017 where once again he had taken Kalonzo to Raila. As if this is not enough trouble for Muthama, Kambas are now demanding that he refunds hundreds of millions he allegedly defrauded Kamba peasants who were members of Konza Ranch that was bought by the government to construct Konza city.