Parliament has betrayed its social contract with Kenyans! It is difficult to understand why the most powerful institution established by the 2010 Constitution has consistently performed dismally.
Sadly, Wanjiku’s supposed guardian angel has allegedly turned on her by plundering her meagre resources. Since 2013 the 11th Parliament has hit the headlines for all the wrong reasons. This tendency risks obscuring some of the good work that few Parliamentarians have done.
Specifically, Article 94 (4) mandates Parliament to be the protector of the Constitution and the chief promoter of good governance. Most of this work is mainly conducted in the Committees which are established by Article 124 of the Constitution. It is important to note that Committees are given powers equivalent to that of the High Court. This is just an example of how powerful Parliament is.
However, it is dispiriting when Kenyans realize that these Committees have been transformed into corruption dens. Rather than being avenues of entrenching good governance and fortifying vulnerable public resources from greedy civil servants; Parliamentarians have used committees to undertake absurd local and international trips as well as conniving with corrupt civil servants to solicit bribes.
Just last week, the Health and Catering committee visited some countries in Africa, Asia and Europe for benchmarking. Any average Kenyan will consider this ridiculous and wasteful. For certain, of what value will this trip be to Kenyans? These type of trips can only be inspired by selfishness.
The Health and Catering committee absurdities remind us of the misconduct of the disbanded Public Accounts Committee that “allegedly” took bribes to cover up corrupt individuals. The ever increasing misconduct by Parliamentarians demonstrates the necessity to have a Parliament watchdog; and also gives us an opportunity to reflect on why they oppose such a move. The Powers and Privileges committee after investigating the Misconduct in PAC recommended creation of such an office but it was rejected unanimously by Chairpersons of other Committees.
In addition, the Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission (EACC) recently gave a damning report incriminating the Parliamentary Service Commission (PSC) over corruption in Parliament. The PSC which is chaired by the Speaker of National Assembly pays former MPs illegally, pays ‘cooked’ mileage and sitting allowances of MPs who never attended sittings. This is gross abuse of trust that Kenyans have confided to the House. This raises doubts on whether Parliament can be trusted in its oversight duties.
It is high time that Parliament removes the veil of secrecy around it and opens up to independent scrutiny. Particularly, committee business in all its aspects, ought to be accessible to members of the public. On the other hand Kenyans need to have the plenary and committee attendance records of MPs plus their individual votes on issues. This is due to chronic absenteeism that leads to lack of quorum and consequently delays passing important of legislation.
What else do you think should change to check corruption in Parliament?