Combined the National Assembly and Senate has over 400 members that cost the country billions of shillings in wages annually. The representatives that sit in both Houses are supposed to ensure responsiveness and accountability of government to citizens by conducting open debate on government policy, legislation, finances, and representing citizens’ views in Parliament.
But how well are our representatives in the National Assembly and Senate performing? How do we evaluate the quality of a single member of parliament/senator/or party? Is there a way to know who is a good Parliamentarian or Senator, is it through attendance, participation or innovation?
While it is difficult to measure the quality of a single Member of Parliament, oral statements made on the floor of the House are an important performance measure for both MPs and Senators. Citizens can use the number of oral statements made on the floor of National Assembly or Senate to tell whether or not their elected representative is participating in policy and legislative discussions.
Last year Parliament was in session for a total of 29 weeks, Mzalendo has gathered data from the Hansards (National Assembly and Senate) and analysed the verbal presence of parliamentarians to find out the top performing representatives in the both Houses, using a simple quantitative metric – the total number of times the Member of Parliament or spoke on the floor as indicated by the Hansard.
Unsurprisingly the two biggest party coalitions – Jubilee Coalition and the Coalition for Reforms and Democracy – lead political debate in the both Senate and the National Assembly. Aden Duale, and James Kembi Gitura were the most active representatives in the National Assembly and Senate respectively. More surprising and disappointing is the that analysis indicates that between March and December 2013 shows that one third of MPs contributed to debated on the floor less than ten times, not a great indicator of participation, but does it mean that a third of parliament should be cut?
It should be noted that the metric only measures the number of the times the MPs or Senators spoke in parliament rather than the quality of what they said. Consequently several questions remain i.e. did the MP or Senator make valuable comments? Are the MPs and Senators speaking on issues important to their constituents? Is the MP delivering on campaign promises?