Montesquieu, the French Political Philosopher is credited for having introduced the principle of separation of powers in one of his popular works, “The Spirit of laws” in the 18th century. He argued that if all three powers (Executive, Legislature and Judiciary) were held by the same person, then there would be a dictatorship and arbitrary rule would prevail.
The 12th Parliament has unfortunately appeared more interested in pleasing the Executive than over sighting it – right from the moment the MPs took oath of office. They hurriedly amended the election laws in what they thought would give President Uhuru and his deputy an upper hand should the Judiciary attempt to nullify the elections.
And what little hope left for Parliament to challenge the Executive was extinguished on March 9, after President Uhuru and opposition leader Raila Odinga shook hands in the name of giving peace a chance. What the country didn’t know at that time, was that the opposition MPs would also be whipped into doing the Executive’s bidding as was the case last Thursday.
That Parliament was unable to veto the President’s memorandum on the Finance Bill, despite the overwhelming support by the public to shoot down the memo was a clear indication that MPs are not afraid of their employers (we, the people), but the Executive. And that the President hastily signed Finance Bill, 2018 into law as the opposition makes incoherent statements is proof enough that Wanjiku is on her own.
The events of that special sitting on Thursday last week will be remembered for a very long time, especially because of the manner in which the House Leadership conducted itself. If one was to watch again that debate, one would conclude that the House leadership had an already determined position – upholding the President’s memo at all cost; even if it means flouting House rules.
Otherwise, the Temporary Madam Speaker, Hon. Soipan Tuya wouldn’t have played deaf and ‘rigged’ the vote to ensure the President’s memo stands. One only needs to check the conversations on Twitter at that time under the hash tag #FinanceBill18 or #TaxVoteKE to see how everyone outside Parliament clearly heard the Nays overpower the Ayes, yet the latter still carried the day.
Consequently, Speaker Muturi wouldn’t have upheld the same shambolic results when he could’ve reviewed the Parliamentary footage. Never mind that the voting was done without taking a head count of members present. And let’s not even debate how the Majority and Minority leader, including minority whip engineered a quorum hitch.
Indeed to that effect some MPs have vowed to impeach the National Assembly Speaker on grounds that the House leadership conducted itself in a manner that is beneath its status. However well-meaning these MPs may be, it is beside the point because the Bill has already been signed into law and thus change of leadership doesn’t change the facts. Besides, the same MPs will be called by their party sponsors and the matter will fizzle out as is usually the case.
Perhaps what Wanjiku should mull over is whether it is possible for a Parliament to oversight the Executive when its members must first meet the President at State House before going to debate in Parliament. Coupled with the fact that the handshake has completely killed the opposition voice in the House; can the people trust the Legislature to effectively carryout its oversight role?
In the same breath, perhaps the time is ripe for the public to debate on separation of powers to secure Legislature from the Executive. As matters stand, with regard to oversight; the Legislature is a dead horse. We must stop administering useless strategies and do as the wisdom of the sages of the Lakota Sioux people dictates; that is, “When you discover that you are riding a dead horse, the best strategy is to dismount.”