The gazettement of the Referendum Bill 2020 elicited mixed reactions on social media.
The bill was in the Kenya Gazette dated May 15, supplement 71.
Some irate netizens wondered why the government would prioritize the referendum during this period when the country is faced with coronavirus, floods.
But according to the Nation, the Referendum Bill 2020 proposes a number of amendments down to the counties.
The Bill, shared by the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) with the Justice and Legal Affairs Committee of the National Assembly back in March, if adopted will allow county governments conduct referendums in their jurisdictions.
A county referendum will strictly be about local issues that consist of county laws and petitions, or “planning and investment decisions affecting the county”, the proposed Bill states.
For a petition to sail through, the Bill states, it will have to be supported by at least 25 per cent of the registered voters in that particular county.
On matters that must be submitted to a referendum, the Bill states that they will be subjected to a referendum even if MPs do not pass the Bill.
For example, Clause 7(b) of the proposed bill states that proposed amendments touching on the supremacy of the Constitution, the territory of Kenya, the sovereignty of the people, national values and principles, the Bill of Rights and the term of the office of the President, among others, will be subjected to a referendum even if MPs fail to pass the bill proposing the amendments.
“If there is more than one question in a referendum and one question is approved and the other is not, the referendum process shall proceed as though the approved question or questions were the only questions and the disapproved question or questions shall be disregarded,” the bill states.
The Bill also allows registered voters to petition in court the results and validity of a referendum.
Such cases, will be heard before a three High Court judge bench. They will hear and determine the case within six months.
This comes as the country awaits for the Building Bridges Initiative taskforce to table a draft Bill proposing Constitutional Amendments.
The taskforce had indicated that Kenyans will not escape a referendum should they, during the second phase of public participation retain some of the proposals already contained in the report.
“If we have all the changes that were proposed in the structure of the Executive, we cannot escape a referendum,” BBI joint secretary Paul Mwangi said.
Senate minority leader James Orengo had demanded that a referendum be conducted by June amid opposition from lawmakers allied to Deputy President William Ruto.
Here are some reactions from Kenyans:
Prepare for REFERENDUM! pic.twitter.com/nGRp6BCbus
— Dennis Itumbi, HSC (@OleItumbi) May 15, 2020
— Joseph Bikundo (@Joseph_ragie) May 15, 2020
— Isaac Waihenya (@IsaacWaihenya) May 15, 2020
I hope this Referendum Bill, 2020 is fake news. pic.twitter.com/94UkM0zb77
— Nelson Havi (@NelsonHavi) May 15, 2020