Over the past one month, news on parliamentary committees and budgetary allocations have painted the institution charged with legislation, representation and oversight as corrupt and self-centered.
Serious corruption allegations have been leveled against the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) members including its chairman. These allegations have been about its members soliciting and taking bribes from senior public servants to influence the outcome of a report under investigations.
PAC audits all public accounts to ensure that public money was used prudently. The 11th Parliament PAC has been auditing some serious issues including the IEBC’s conduct of the 2013 General Elections, Auditor General’s Accounts, the Hustler’s jet leasing and investigations into the questionable transfer of Sh2.3 billion from the Office of the President between 2012 and 2013 among others. These are core institutions of public interest hence vested interests abound.
A recorded conversation between MPs Samuel Arama, Ababu Namwamba, Junet Mohammed and CORD coalition leader Raila Odinga has brought out the corrupt dealings associated with MPs and other senior government officers. The recording implicates MPs from both the Jubilee and CORD Coalitions in the practice which goes to show corruption is condoned and abetted so long as it caters to their interests. Hear the recording
On Thursday, the Budget committee bowed to pressure from MPs and dropped an allocation of Sh3 billion intended to public hearings and professional input. The bulk of Sh3 billion that was dropped from the proposed allocations was shared between the Parliamentary Service Commission (Sh1 billion) and the Constituency Development Fund (Sh1.38 billion).
That parliamentarians can be very selfish to the point of competing amongst each other to take bribes and implicate each other in order to influence reports is not only unfortunate but also shameful.
This behavior is contrary to the Constitution and Parliament standing orders. Article 75 of the Constitution is clear that state officers’ public and private behavior must avoid conflict of interest between their personal interest and public or official duties. Compromising any public or official interest in favor of a personal interest demeans the office the officer holds. The standing orders further elaborate and give guidelines on this issue.
It is clear that corruption festers prominently at the committee level, which is pivotal in determining and shaping debate in the plenary. These strong allegations imply that whatever happens at the plenary is normally already decided upon and it is just a stamping exercise.
It is also clear that MPs who have been adversely mentioned are in breach of the Constitution and standing orders. A breach of law is a serious crime which should not be condoned. The Parliamentarians adversely mentioned have shown no remorse whatsoever. A parliamentary committees audit is recommended. The audit ideally should be carried out by representatives of the Independent Commissions with a view of prosecuting them in a court of law in order to set precedence, nip the vice and protect the dignity of the House.
What do you think?