Senators differ over leadership of committee spearheading revenue formula consensus

The Senate of Kenya during a past session. PHOTO | COURTESY
The Senate of Kenya during a past session. PHOTO | COURTESY

The search for a win-win formula that will be used to share the Ksh.316.5 billion allocated to 47 counties in the 2020/2021 financial year formally kicks off when a 10-member select committee convenes on Friday.

But even before the warring factions meet, a fresh row has erupted; Senators opposed to the revenue sharing formula proposed by the Finance Committee have contested the selection of Deputy Speaker Prof. Margaret Kamar to lead the delicate consensus building efforts.

The Senators, dubbed Team Kenya’, claim the Uasin Gishu Senator is biased and an interested party, and insist on Speaker Ken Lusaka to chair the committee.

The committee is scheduled to hold its first meeting on Friday and through the weekend to thrash out the contentions, in consultation with the leadership of Parliamentary political parties, among them President Uhuru Kenyatta, his deputy William Ruto, ODM chief Raila Odinga as well as his Wiper counterpart Kalonzo Musyoka.

The committee’s version of the consensus formula will then be presented to all Senators, during an informal sitting, known as ‘Kamukunji’, on Monday on the eve of the 8th sitting of the Senate on the slippery revenue sharing formula.

The Finance Committee formula prioritises population over land mass, and as a result, 18 counties would have their share of the devolved revenue slashed, while 29 counties that are populous would have their allocation increased.

The hardline stances in the Senate have defied the handshake voting dynamics, resulting in a near financial paralysis in the 47 counties.

But the stalemate was not entirely unexpected. Majority Chief Whip Kang’ata, in a document dated July 8, 2020, and seen by Citizen TV, had warned the Jubilee administration of likely difficulties in passing the Finance Committee formula, citing outright resistance from 18 senators whose counties would lose if the formula sailed through.

He was also wary of 7 senators allied to the ‘Tanga Tanga’ faction of the Jubilee party, who would vote against, to score political points and hit back at the president for engineering their ouster from House leadership during the purge on perceived errant members.

Kang’ata was also concerned about the likelihood of Senators from Lamu, Machakos, Kakamega and Kisii counties voting against the formula in solidarity with their neighbouring counties that would lose.

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Story By Francis Gachuri
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