Draft law bad for Kenyans, says Ruto

Agriculture minister William Ruto (right), Keiyo South MP Jackson Kiptanui (centre) and a church member during a fundraiser in aid of Kitany, Africa Inland Church in Keiyo South district where the legislators took the "No campaign" on the draft constitution April 18, 2010. Photo/JARED NYATAYA

What you need to know:

  • President still enjoys excessive powers under the draft constitution, says Agriculture minister.

Agriculture minister William Ruto has said that the draft constitution does not reflect the wishes of Kenyans and vowed to remain steadfast in his push to have the document rejected.

The minister, who took his No campaign to Christians in the North Rift, said he will not relent in opposing the draft constitution unless amendments are made on contentious issues.

He said the president still enjoyed excessive powers under the draft constitution and the clause on maximum and minimum land an individual should own was not good for a capitalist country like Kenya.

“Kenyans wanted a servant president and not a king as enshrined in the draft constitution. Setting land limits for Kenyans will disunite Kenyans when the country was yearning for a constitution that will unite them,” said Mr Ruto during a fundraiser in aid of the African Inland Church in Keiyo South constituency.

The minister said the draft constitution did not address the interests of majority of Kenyans as it failed to create room for proper devolution that will guarantee equitable distribution of resources to the grassroots level.

“The draft constitution if passed as it is will reduce devolved funds from the current 18 percent to 15 per cent when majority of Kenyans wanted 60 per cent.”

Mr Ruto said there was need to build consensus on chapters dealing with land, abortion and devolution for the draft constitution to be universally acceptable to all Kenyans.

The minister who was accompanied by Environment assistant minister Jackson Kiptanui claimed leaders pushing for a Yes vote had a sinister agenda and appealed to Kenyans to treat them cautiously to avoid giving the country to a faulty document.

“There is a sinister motive behind the push for Kenyans to endorse a faulty document in the guise that they had waited for a new constitution for long. They want to use excessive presidential powers for their own good at the expense of the majority,” said Mr Ruto.

He said it was unfortunate that leaders who led the No vote during the 2005 referendum were now rallying Kenyans behind the draft constitution yet "nothing had changed in the document."

“It doesn’t make sense for us to have refused the 2005 draft constitution if we can accept the current one as nothing has really changed,” Mr Ruto said.

He said it was not in order for some Kenyans to change tune and support a flawed document simply because those who said "No are now in the Yes team."

Mr Ruto told the gathering that it was difficult to make changes once the draft constitution is passed saying it requires another referendum.
“Those pressing for the changes to be made later are not sincere since they know very well how difficult it is to change the document once it’s passed. We will need one million votes and another referendum,” said the minister.

He appealed to those campaigning for the Yes vote to reconsider their stand so as to build consensus saying as responsible leaders, they should not allow desperation to be the guiding principle to pass a faulty document.

“Let’s not condemn this country to a faulty constitution simply because the constitution journey has taken two decades. We have time to change where we feel this document is likely to pull us behind as a country.”