Time Running out for Parliament and Jubilee to Salvage their Legacy

Maina Kiai by Maina Kiai
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ODM’s chest-thumping over their victory in the Kajiado Central by-election is naïve and short-sighted. Naïve because ODM retained “their” seat, but is newly elected MP, Elijah Memusi, really ODM damu?

Mr Memusi joined the party after being denied the JAP nomination and his victory owes much to his personal popularity.

Short-sighted because even if Mr Memusi was diehard ODM, would that make a difference given how our parliamentarians behave? The last time we saw such a pitiful group of MPs was after 1988 with the mlolongo selections: It was all about who could parrot the Nyayo tune the loudest. It was this uselessness that led to protests to counter the excesses of the regime.

Today, it matters not the party affiliation for the current MPs, so long as the price is right. Names are deleted from reports mysteriously; critical reports. And when they are published, like the report on Westgate, they are a white-wash.

There is almost no shame anymore as we are learning from all the scandals affecting even the Parliamentary Accounts Committee, which is the ultimate check on the Executive.

And then they are those MPs that have never seen a government motion or law that has any defect. They toe the party line, seemingly thinking that their role is to defend the indefensible even when it clashes with the Constitution, as we saw with the Security Act.

SITTING ALLOWANCES

But of course our MPs are harmonious when discussing their remuneration, or creating new committees — or increasing the sittings for existing committees — as they can get more sitting allowances.

And when they are trying to weaken other institutions of governance such as the Senate, Judiciary, the Salaries and Remuneration Commission or the devolved County system, or talk about the pecking order, it is all symphonic.

But then again, Mr Memusi could turn out to be a gem in our discredited parliament, if he takes his constitutional role of oversight of the Executive seriously. He is not encumbered by the need to follow the party line, and he could yet curve a niche for himself as the defender of the defenseless, much like James Orengo, Koigi Wamwere, Mwashengu wa Mwachofi, George Anyona, Waruru Kanja, Chelagat Mutai, Martin Shikuku, Jean Marie Seroney and others did during their time in parliament during the one-party state.

For a crusader for the majority poor is sorely needed in this parliament, where unbridled greed and open impunity seems to be the legacy they want to leave. And this does not mean handouts and patronage with unclear sources of money. It means systematic and determined efforts to always consider the poor and to understand that the Constitution is about reducing power at the centre, and putting the ordinary Kenyan first.

NEGATIVE BEHAVIOUR

But how did our good progressive Constitution usher in such negative behaviour from our political class?

The rain started beating us when the Courts decided that enforcing Chapter Six of the Constitution was too tough, and the IEBC decided to have no role in determining the integrity or otherwise of candidates. And it became a free-for-all, with the message of impunity front and centre.

For if people charged with crimes against humanity were found worthy of contesting elections, and being declared the victors, with the approval of a Supreme Court that saw no errors even when shown on film, then why not everyone else?

This explains the runaway corruption that is rotting our country. I am told that Uhuru Kenyatta is very worried that this rot could turn out to be his legacy. Yet, he has the chance to turn this around. It will be difficult and messy, and it could cost him political support especially given the capacity of the Singhs around him.

But then again, if there can ever be a post-tribal President in this country Mr Kenyatta can be it, if he takes the anti-corruption fight to its logical conclusion. That would undoubtedly give him a new, non-tribal support base and change his legacy to one that would do him proud.

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