Rigathi Gachagua’s ‘one man one shilling’ push sparks storm

Gachagua pending bills

Deputy President Rigathi Gachagua.

Photo credit: File| NATION

Fresh clamour for the adoption of the one-man-one-shilling formula by Deputy President Rigathi Gachagua has triggered a storm with some politicians now accusing him of having an obsession with his ethnic community.

Opponents of the formula said its implementation will marginalise other parts of the country. This, even as they said that populous regions in the country, including Mt Kenya, already have better infrastructure like roads compared to marginalised areas that are sparsely populated.

The debate has spilled over to Tsavo National Park after some elected leaders in Taita-Taveta County demanded to have the park — which occupies over 62 percent of the county’s land — devolved as opposed to sharing the revenue generated.

Critics also opposed the one-man-one-shilling formula describing it as unfair distribution of resources, saying that counties with higher populations will receive more resources to the detriment of those with larger land mass and a low population.

Land mass

Tana River Senator Danson Mungatana on Wednesday told off Mr Gachagua and threatened to rally other regions to back a formula that gives premium to land mass as opposed to population.

Mr Mungatana said the one-man-one-shilling formula will only benefit one community. He said that marginalised areas are not in the country by mistake, citing the 1965 Sessional Paper that entrenched discrimination of arid and semi-arid areas.

The former Garsen Member of Parliament said it was sad that Mr Gachagua wants to apply a 1965 policy in 2024.

“If you are planning to be the president of this country you can’t ignore counties with small populations. Former presidents Daniel arap Moi, Mwai Kibaki and Uhuru Kenyatta, as well as the incumbent, William Ruto, have never ignored us. Anybody trying to ignore us will be doing it at his own peril,” said Mr Mungatana.

“When you talk of one constituency having 300,000 people and should benefit more at the expense of another one with 14,000 people, you should remember that those with high populations have been developed at the expense of the marginalised areas for many years,” he added.

Taita-Taveta Governor Andrew Mwadime has also opposed the plan. He said the formula will deny vast counties the resources they need to take services close to the people.

“If the formula is implemented, there will be no equity and fairness in the distribution of national wealth,” said the governor.

At the weekend, Mr Gachagua said the populous Mt Kenya region has no apologies to make in asking for more revenue commensurate to its numbers.

The DP said he will push for the formula to be implemented to ensure equity and fairness in the allocation of funds to the counties. He said that the one-man-one-shilling is critical for development in the Mt Kenya region.

“In matters of revenue sharing, I am a believer, a proponent of one-man-one-vote-one-shilling. Resources are about the people. The whole issue of resources is about the people. The more you are, the more taxes you pay. It goes without saying, the more taxes you pay, the more you should get,” said Mr Gachagua.

“We have no apologies to make. We want equality and equity. We want fairness in sharing of revenue. We will be pushing that agenda not because we come from a region that has a high population but because it is the right thing to do.”

The position taken by Mr Gachagua is a U-turn after he opposed the formula that was first proposed by former President Kenyatta. The proposal was contained in the botched Building Bridges Initiative (BBI) by Mr Kenyatta and opposition leader, Raila Odinga.

The DP’s latest push comes barely a week after President Ruto fired a warning shot at senior politicians in his United Democratic Alliance (UDA) he accused of whipping up ethnic emotions for their political survival.

In his off the cuff speech during the Labour Day celebrations, Dr Ruto berated unnamed individuals for perpetuating ethnic-based politics. His remarks left many guessing whom he was targeting, with others linking it to the supremacy contest in Mt Kenya where some big shots are pulling all the stops to install themselves as the region’s kingpin.

Unnecessary noise

“I want to ask leaders to stop this unnecessary noise, especially those politicians who are looking for ways to divide Kenyans on the basis of ethnicity. I want to appeal to all leaders that tribal-based politics will not change the lives of Kenyans,” said President Ruto.

“Any politicians engaged in tribal politics are those who are bankrupt of ideas,” he said.

In Mwatate, Taita-Taveta, some MCAs rejected the one-man-one-shilling formula, saying it is unfair and discriminative.

“The government wants to discriminate against us. The one-man-one-shilling formula does not favour us at all,” Mr Peter Shambi, a nominated MCA, said.

Mr Shambi said they are not backing down in their fight to take charge of Tsavo National Park, adding that the county has been a victim of empty promises.

"The President was here last year and promised that we will get revenue from the park. But the Tourism Cabinet Secretary Alfred Mutua said that is impossible,” he said.

Last month, the county assembly passed a motion to petition the National Assembly to amend the Wildlife Conservation and Management Act to change the park into a game reserve.

Reporting by Moses Nyamori, Collins Omulo and Lucy Mkanyika