BBI centre stage at MP Justus Murunga's funeral

Deputy President William Ruto

Deputy President William Ruto during Matungu MP Justus Murunga's burial service at Makunda Primary School in Matungu, Kakamega County on December 5, 2020.

Photo credit: Isaac Wale | Nation Media Group

What you need to know:

  • The debate was ignited by calls by Mr Mudavadi and Kakamega Senator Cleophas Malala for DP Ruto to stop derailing the process.
  • Ford-Kenya leader and Bungoma Senator Moses Wetang’ula said he and Mr Mudavadi agreed that Ford-Kenya will not field a candidate in favour of the ANC.

The Building Bridges Initiative (BBI) took centre stage at the burial on Saturday of Matungu MP Justus Murunga, whose guests included Deputy President William Ruto, ODM leader Raila Odinga and ANC's Musalia Mudavadi.

The debate was ignited by calls by Mr Mudavadi and Kakamega Senator Cleophas Malala for Dr Ruto to stop derailing the process.

DP Ruto insisted that President Uhuru Kenyatta and Mr Odinga can still bring him on board to make the BBI Bill more accommodative before the country goes to a referendum.

He said it is not too late for the country to reach a consensus on the document even as Mr Odinga insisted that the BBI train has left the station and that there is no turning back.

The DP said it is not too late to introduce further amendments to the document and that this is the only way to attain a consensus and avert a divisive referendum that can further polarise the country.

“When we asked for changes after [the launch of the report at] Bomas, some were effected. It’s not too late for us to make more changes. In short, it’s not late to do the right thing,” he said.

Mudavadi and Ruto at Murunga's burial

Deputy President William Ruto confers with ANC leader Musalia Mudavadi at Matungu MP Justus Murunga's funeral service at Makunda Primary School grounds in Matungu, Kakamega County, on December 5, 2020.

Photo credit: Isaac Wale | Nation Media Group

Referendum questions

The DP noted the need to review the recommendations to nominate women leaders to the Senate and do away with the elective post of woman representative.

“Why do we want to take the responsibility of electing woman reps from the people and give it to leaders who will appoint their friends? Let them remain in the National Assembly and be elected by the [people],” he said.

Dr Ruto further said it is wrong for some leaders to claim that having a multiple-choice-questions referendum will be cumbersome for the public as during the General Election, they had six leaders to choose from.

“It is a fallacy for some leaders to tell us it’s too much for Kenyans to have several questions during a referendum," he said, adding it will take very little time for leaders to agree on the recommendations he is calling for and move to the BBI's implementation.

“We want the best for everyone. Let us stop the rush and give Kenyans the questions we have on the BBI so that they can participate in the constitutional change process,” he said, adding the people are smart.

“You are telling Kenyans to [vote] yet they have not read the report. What do you want them to vote on? I am calling upon Kenyans to oppose the report but I want them given time to read it before they vote.”

Matungu MP Justus Murunga's burial

Matungu MP Justus Murunga is laid to rest at his home in Makunda village, Kakamega County, on December 5, 2020.

Photo credit: Isaac Wale | Nation Media Group

Handshake goals

Mr Odinga said his handshake with President Kenyatta was aimed at uniting a country divided along tribal and political lines.

He said other goals were fighting corruption, negative ethnicity, poverty, joblessness among youth and gender mainstreaming.

Mr Mudavadi said the country is facing serious economic challenges that need to be addressed urgently.

He said the BBI report should be approved to pave way for an economic recovery plan by the government following the Covid-19 pandemic. 

“We will delay the  recovery process if we postpone BBI issues,” said Mr Mudavadi.

Matungu MP Justus Murunga's family

Matungu MP Justus Murunga's family members during his funeral in Matungu, Kakamega County, on December 5, 2020. 

Photo credit: Isaac Wale | Nation Media Group

By-election deal

The MP died on November 14 while being rushed to St Mary’s Hospital in Mumias.

Two weeks earlier, he fell ill and was admitted to the Aga Khan Hospital in Kisumu where he was treated for hypertension and diabetes.

The burial had initially been set for November 28 but the plans were put on hold after a woman claiming to have had children with the legislator obtained a court injunction.

Regarding the by-election to find a new MP for Matungu, Ford-Kenya leader and Bungoma Senator Moses Wetang’ula said he and Mr Mudavadi agreed that Ford-Kenya will not field a candidate in order to increase ANC's chances of winning.

Mr Wetang’ula said the ANC will in turn not field a candidate for the Kabuchai MP seat following the death of James Mukwe Lusweti, who was a Ford-Kenya member.

Ruto and Raila at MP Justus Murunga's burial

Deputy President William Ruto with ODM leader Raila Odinga during a Matungu Justus Murunga's funeral service at Makunda Primary School grounds in Matungu, Kakamega County on December 5, 2020.

Photo credit: Isaac Wale | Nation Media Group

ODM's "right"

Mr Odinga said ODM has a democratic right to field a candidate in Matungu when the by-elections are called. He was responding to Senator Malala’s request for the party not to present a contestant.

The ODM leader said that during the Kibra by-election, all parties in the National Super Alliance (Nasa) fielded candidates, and that this should be the case in Matungu.

The DP said he knew Mr Murunga in 1991 when they were members of the YK92 lobby group. He read President Kenyatta’s condolence message.

Senate Speaker Kenneth Lusaka, Governors Wycliffe Oparanya (Kakamega) and Wycliffe Wangamati (Bungoma) also attended the burial alongside a host of MPs.

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