by James Momanyi and Anthony Mwangi @PeopleDailyKe Nasa presidential candidate Raila Odinga last night declined to confirm claims of existence of an Opposition tallying centre in Tanzania, saying it will be in Kenya and the ‘cloud’.
The thorny question of a tallying centre said to have been set up in the neighbouring country was among the first questions Raila faced when he appeared before the Presidential Debate panel at the Catholic University of East Africa where he featured alone after President Uhuru Kenyatta skipped the session.
Tackling the question just hours after the Tanzanian government denied a Nasa tallying centre had been set up their territory, Raila said: “The centre is in Kenya, and in the cloud”, referring to the virtual internet storage technique. “We will tally our results. Why should anybody be worried if the tallying centre is in Germany, USA or in the moon? How is that a security threat? We have it (tallying centre) in Kenya, in Kenya and in the moon!” he said.
The Nasa leader was also put to task by moderators Linus Kaikai and Joe Ageyo on his statement a few weeks ago that he would bring the rent in urban areas down, an issue that has caused disquiet especially amongst landlords.
The former Prime Minister explained that the housing crisis in urban areas had been caused by increased rural to urban migration and the failure by the government to address low cost housing.
Raila said, to address the issue of rent so that most urban dwellers, especially in informal settlements, can afford housing; would call for enforcing of the Rent Restrictions Act.
“We will enforce this Act to protect the poor from increasing rent every other day. In slums we do not have landowners but people given temporary licences to put up temporary structures,” he said.
On the issue of undermining various constitutional offices and civil servants, Raila accused the agencies, especially the electoral body and the security agencies, of playing to the whims of government, something he said had undermined their constitutional mandate. “It is the government which has sensed defeat.
Otherwise why are they involving security forces? I have repeatedly said the military should not be engaged by the government during elections. Otherwise we will have problems. That is the work of the police,” said Raila.
On persistent attacks especially on the IEBC which are seen as undermining the Constitution, Raila said his criticism on the electoral body had always been constructive and not necessarily negative.
“Those who opposed the Constitution are currently the ones running the government and are the ones who are undermining this Constitution. IEBC should be independent and not under the direction of Matiang’i (acting Interior Cabinet secretary).” He said the Opposition fought for the removal of the previous IEBC commissioners because they failed to make some of the changes they had sought.
On the issue of the continual involvement of Kenya Defence Forces (KDF) in Somalia, the Nasa leader said while he participated in a resolution that sent the soldiers across the border, the forces could have been withdrawn by now after achieving the sole purpose of liberating the Port of Kismayu from the terror group al Shabaab.
Raila was taken to task for the statement he made in Kajiado, that those who had bought land there should return to their places of origin. He said he stood by what he said, but denied telling locals to evict migrants.
He explained that his statement was meant to address poverty in the area and in case he is elected President, he would address destitution that forces people to sell their land by implementing the TJRC report.
On tribalism, Raila defended his stint as Prime Minister saying he did not use his position to enrich members of his family and community. On social media misuse and abuses by people who defend him, that the panelists told him could fan violence, Raila said he cannot control it as it would be interfering with the rights of Kenyans to express themselves.
Asked about the dominance of the his family and that of the Kenyatta’s in Kenyan politics, Raila defended them saying just like Mzee Jomo Kenyatta who was a freedom fight, his late father Jaramogi Oginga also played a key role in the fight. He said he was not introduced into politics but fought for it having played a key role in the second liberation.
He also defended some statements he makes in political rallies which the public misconstrues as insults, saying some of them were jokes made to work up the crowds. “I never mean to insult President Uhuru or his deputy William Ruto, I only make the statements to work up my supporters, but not to belittle the two,” he said.
Earlier, only three of the so-called fringe candidates showed up for the first part of the presidential debate, with Abduba Dida, Cyrus Jirongo and Joe Nyagah giving it a miss. Those who attended, Dr Akuro Aukot, Prof Michael Wainana and Japheth Kaluyu outlined their agenda for the country and the change they cherished to bring if elected in the August 8 elections.