In a country where it’s normal for some citizens to miss certain meals; live in shacks unworthy of a pig sty and spend their days worrying about tomorrow, it’s quite safe to apply the metaphor of Parliamentarians as deadbeat dads; unwilling, though capable of meeting their constituent’s needs because of selfishness.
The irony of democratic politics is that poor people withstand harsh weather, stand on meandering lines with no visible end for hours to vote someone who doesn’t live the life they live; some haven’t even spent a day waiting for anything in their life.
It’s as though voters have some kind of Stockholm syndrome. It doesn’t matter how many good men show up for the baby mama, she prefers the deadbeat dad with all his flaws. The working adage here is, better the devil you know. As a result major towns in the country from Nairobi to Mombasa are filthy and getting worse by the day and it’s not for lack of good leaders.
Since the beginning of the year we’ve heard of devastating media reports of fathers and mothers killing their children and themselves. Only this week an 11year-old child took his own life over worries of this world after his father left them.
It’s easy to consider these as isolated cases and wonder how they relate to Members of Parliament but if you think about democracy in its philosophical sense; people purely engage in a general election exercise in the hope that life could change for the better. More importantly that their representatives will find ways if not pass laws to make their lives bearable where it can’t be better.
Sadly, the 12th Parliament like the previous Houses is more concerned with personal gains than their main mandate. They have united to fiercely fight the gazette notice by the Salaries and Remuneration Commission (SRC) to slash their salaries, perks and do away with the car grant. Through the Parliamentary Service Commission (PSC) they have sought the court orders to ignore the SRC pay cuts even if it means misrepresenting the facts in a court of law. It turns out PSC did not divulge crucial information to the High Court after SRC filed a case to discard their case.
Meanwhile the country is sagging under the weight of debt that experts now say each Kenyan has a Kes. 100,000 debt courtesy of these bad loans. Our government refuses to call them bad loans, insisting the Eurobond among others were wisely invested. The move by SRC was going to save the country Kes 8.85 billion annually.
Never mind the decision by SRC to cut these salaries was based on among other things the rising wage bill. But MPs won’t hear any of it. They don’t care that majority of them were elected by people who have never held down any worthwhile job. They don’t care that over 80 per cent of Kenyans earn below Kes. 70, 0000; they feel the slashing of their salaries to Kes. 621,250 is disrespectful and fails to capture their problems. It’s almost laughable, if only it was that trivial.
There are Kenyans who are living in camps because of lawlessness. Some people decided to attack them and take their wealth as part of their sport also known locally as cattle rustling and there are MPs who would go on camera to defend this banditry of a culture.
Worse still is that police can harass children and teargas them for being in the ‘wrong’ part of the country but the same police can’t apprehend bandits taking over people’s land and cattle; choosing instead to make a herd of cattle their target practice, killing livestock in the name of looking for bandits.
And we pride ourselves in having Members of Parliament who should at the very least come up with laws that can help good people live happily within the law wherever they want. We pride ourselves in having representatives who can amplify our voices only the amplification is not practical. What a joke for democracy!
And while we’re still on democracy, Jubilee is having a hard time accepting the will of the majority in the National Assembly after MPs elected some four MPs that were not supposed to be elected. The leader of Majority had requested the four to relinquish their positions for other MPs with more politically correct backgrounds but the MPs elected to chair these committees will hear none of it.
Led by the outspoken Nandi Hills MP Alfred Keter, the MPs went to court contrary to the Jubilee expectations that the matter be solved internally. They have continued to defy the party even refusing to adhere to the top party leaders’ request that they step down. As the showdown continues one wonders why the obsession with this political correctness in the name of national outlook?
The obsession with political correctness is the reason all those appointed to cabinet for being in tribes that would appeal to the national outlook have performed dismally with the exception of former Education CS Matiangi, although debatable.
While it may appear a little too early to judge the 12th Parliament, it hasn’t shown any indication they’re different from previous Houses. Time will tell but in the meantime the voters need to realize the habit of thinking civic duty begins and ends with elections is a bad joke. We need to be vigilant now, more than ever.