Article 75 (1) (c) of the Constitution states, “A State officer shall behave, whether in public and official life, in private life, or in association with other persons, in a manner that avoids demeaning the office the officer holds.”
This is just one part of the Chapter on Leadership and Integrity that clearly spells out how a state officer should conduct him/herself, which sadly has been violated in recent and past times. We have been treated to the spectacle of MPs making derogatory, inciting and demeaning comments and even worse, facing allegations on their involvement in corruption. Which makes the xenophobic comments by Starehe MP Charles Njagua, appalling but not surprising. Mr Njagua, alias Jaguar, is not the first and certainly won’t be the last legislator to make headlines for the wrong reasons. Stemming from the fact that the office of an MP is yet to be given the respect it deserves.
Those caught in the wrong have enjoyed the privilege that comes with the political and social capital tied to their positions which has been used to shield them from the consequences of their misconduct. More effort should be put in bringing dignity and honor to the office of a legislator who is supposed to reflect the thoughts, attitudes and morals of the people he represents.
While Mr Njagua meant to protect his constituents’ interests, it was the manner in which he approached the matter that stirred up a storm. What is discouraging though is that our neighbours, perhaps to prove that the political class is cut from the same clothe, retaliated with equally xenophobic comments against Kenyans on the floor of the House. Leaders, regardless of country owe it to the people they represent to have sober-minded conversations through the right legislative and judicial channels as opposed to making comments that endanger specific groups and stir diplomatic tiffs. It does no one a favor to rile up citizens in fury that could lead to irreversible consequences.
Has Mr Njagua forgotten that he still adequately represented Starehe residents when he called on the DCI to investigate the Gikomba fire that killed 15 people? Has he forgotten that his voice was still as powerful when he sued Nairobi county over the strict rules that banned motorbikes from the CBD? Why would he resort to bringing disrepute to his office, the Parliament as a whole and ruin diplomatic ties in an effort to assert authority? While in a position of power, one needs to be thoughtful about their utterances and actions. It is less than two years ago that he got involved in a fight with Embakasi East counterpart Babu Owino. There is need for Jaguar to exercise wisdom and restraint especially when the mood of his people screams of frustration and desperation to find quick solutions to the problems they face.
With great opportunity comes great responsibility. Njagua, who represents the youth in Parliament should instead work towards proving that young people deserve an equal chance at leadership as opposed to painting them as ignorant and hot-headed. Upholding the Constitution by leaders not only sets the pace for the rest of the country but raises the bar of the calibre of leaders we aspire to have and be.