By Samuel Ouma
Exiled Tanzanian opposition leader Tundu Lissu has poked his nose into Kenya’s Building Bridges Initiative (BBI) that aims to amend the constitution to solve the country’s perennial challenges, including election-related violence.
According to Mr Lissu, the initiative spearheaded by President Uhuru Kenyatta and his handshake brother Raila Odinga only seeks to strengthen the President’s powers, asking Kenyans to be wary of the document.
In an interview with a local media on Monday in Nairobi, he further quashed the need to create the Prime Minister post as proposed in the BBI. The outspoken Tanzanian leader said the Prime Minister will be powerless since they will be working under the President.
“I’m very skeptical about BBI, and the reason for me is that the critical Constitutional problem that I see in Kenya, and that has bedeviled Kenya since 1964, is presidentialism…the presidency. In my reading, what BBI does is to augment rather than whittle away the presidential powers.
“The most noticeable aspect of BBI is the idea of creation of the Prime Minister; the Prime Minister who is envisaged in the BBI is absolutely no different from the Tanzanian Prime Minister, he has no substantial power of anything, he’s a presidential appointee like any other district commissioner, he serves in the pleasure of the president,” said Lissu.
His comments on the BBI came hours before the document’s appeal hearing kicked off. On Tuesday, a seven-judge bench led by the country’s Court of Appeal President Daniel Musinga began hearing the cases challenging BBI nullification.
The key appellants are President Uhuru Kenyatta, ODM boss Raila Odinga, BBI Secretariat and the electoral agency, the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC).
The hearing will run until July 2.
At the same time, the Chadema vice-chairman lauded the current Tanzanian President Samia Suluhu for the progress the country has made since she took power following the demise of her predecessor, Pombe Magufuli. He singled out the fight against the Covid-19 pandemic, which he said has improved under President Samia leadership.
However, he questioned why she has not addressed the opposition leaders’ safety and is yet to extend the olive branch to those who fled the country during the late Magufuli’s regime.
He added that those who tried to assassinate him in 2017 are also yet to be arrested and persecuted.
“I think the first 100 days of Tanzania under the administration of Mama Samia Suluhu Hassan have been positive, there is however some guarded optimism on my part. The most important thing has been the change of tone, we – in the opposition – were used to being harassed even when we hold internal party meetings,” he noted.
“There are things that she hasn’t done that we expect her to do that would give us the assurance to enable people like me who fled the country in fear of their lives the confidence to return home,” he added.