- Mr Odinga is aware that if the public warmly receives Punguza Mizigo, there would be little or no room for another clamour to alter the laws of the land.
- Justice James Makau barred Thirdway from presenting the bill to the Speaker of the National Assembly, pending a case filed in court against it.
Operating a book balance of not more than Sh10 million per year, there are already serious doubts on the capability of Thirdway Alliance to bankroll the Punguza Mizigo referendum on its own.
The situation has seen a number of names, including that of Deputy President William Ruto, dropped as possible financiers of the initiative that has so far shaken the country’s politics, even prompting Opposition chief Raila Odinga to ask his troops to ignore it, and instead wait for the recommendations of the Building Bridges task force created by him and President Uhuru Kenyatta.
“Wachaneni na hii ingine inaitwa Punguza Gunia (ignore the other push to amend the laws),” Mr Odinga said at the requiem mass of the late Kibra MP Ken Okoth on Thursday.
Leading a successful referendum would no doubt require a sizeable war chest to propel it and the goodwill of the political class to endear it to the masses.
Many observers reckon that Dr Ekuru Aukot may have the brains but not the political influence.
A search at the Registrar of Political Parties on Friday showed that not long ago, Thirdway Alliance was among the political parties in the red.
It had not met all the requirements, having fallen short of the minimum 1,000 members in at least 24 counties as required by the Political Parties Act.
The party was among those notified by the registrar in February that they risked deregistration if they did not comply within 90 days.
It is interesting to see a party that was on the brink of extinction six months ago today setting the political agenda with a real possibility of changing the country’s legal framework forever.
“They were compliant as of May. Suffices to clarify that this does not just apply to Thirdway since only 10 parties were compliant by February.
“We have issued a fresh notice to all the parties whose compliance status is in doubt to make amends within 30 days,” Registrar of Political Parties Anne Nderitu told the Sunday Nation.
Party Chairman Miruru Waweru admits that Thirdway Alliance does not have resources to popularise the initiative in all the 47 counties.
“But we have been receiving support from Kenyans and party members, and we have also been raising funds from the public through our paybill. Our partners are ordinary Kenyans and they are increasing in numbers every day,” he said.
Mr Waweru said their party members and officials only see DP Ruto on TV and newspapers. “He is neither a member of the party and he will never be a member of this party during our lifetime,” he sought to reassure the members.
This was the second time the officials were coming out to deny any links with DP Ruto, who has in the past said he would not support any move to amend the laws for the benefit of a few individuals.
In February, Secretary-General Fred Okango was forced to issue a statement decrying actions of a “propaganda machine” to discredit it. This time around, he was accusing political strategist Mutahi Ngunyi of being used to shoot it down.
“Thirdway Alliance Kenya is not, and has never been, an appendage of the Deputy President or any other person and does not involve itself in Jubilee’s internal fights or petty politics of succession. We demand the implementation of political promises foremost and propose better solutions for all Kenyans. No cheap propaganda can stop the Punguza Mizigo Bill 2019 project,” he said.
There are also strong indications that after the party obtained the nod of the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) to go ahead and convince county assemblies and Parliament to take it to the next level, a number of civil society groups have since lent them a hand, financing most of its activities to the tune of millions.
AUKOT VS ODM
The thinking in Mr Odinga’s camp is that DP Ruto would want to support Punguza Mizigo not so it can succeed but to cause confusion so that if the BBI were to recommend a referendum, the environment would already be poisoned for possible rejection by the public.
Practically, Thirdway Alliance is not expected to come out and admit DP Ruto’s hand even if he were in an actual sense involved with them.