Are Kenyans getting value for their money from MPs?

Posted by on 28th June 2019

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On the release of the Bunge Scorecard this past Sunday, we anticipated that it would create buzz as it has done since the inception of it in 2014. The release of the scorecard for the past five years has been characterized by equal applause and backlash from constituents to their leaders depending on where the latter sits on this list. Understandably, Kenyans are interested and invested in knowing whether their representatives are implementing their mandate as spelt out in the Constitution. Being the MPs’ employers, it makes sense to see whether we’re getting value for our money.

This report reviewed the Hansard from September 2017 to December 2018. A period during which the political environment underwent many changes. Kenya had just come from a historic Presidential election annulment, then went through a second Presidential election late in 2017, then Raila Odinga was sworn is the people’s president in January 2018 before shortly going into the handshake mood in March that same year. Which would explain the interesting findings that this report contained. Unlike previous years where the opposition emerged the top, this report revealed a dominance by the ruling party. Begging the question, did the handshake quell the opposition’s appetite to critique Jubilee’s stand on issues?

As expected, a few legislators from both sides of the divide came out to dismiss the report on the basis that using the number of one’s appearance on the Hansard wasn’t sufficient enough to prove that they indeed work. Which may be a valid point, considering that the mandate of an MP isn’t restricted to the floor of the House. However, the burden of proof lies with the legislators to showcase how they have used their time in Barazas and church fundraisers to undertake their roles of appropriation, oversight, participation and legislation. Sadly, those who’ve come out to rubbish the Scorecard have been seen politicking, drumming support for their preferred candidate for an election that is about 3 years away.

Nominated MP, Hon David Ole Sankok called on fellow legislators to focus less on baraza politics and more on Parliament debates where their voices make the most impact as the Kenyan voter has charged them to legislate on behalf of the nation. The report does not mean to paint those who’ve spoken a few times as failures, rather it hopes to show MPs that there is a lot of room to improve their service to mwananchi. If anything, this could be used as a basis to self-evaluate and work on improving delivery to their respective constituencies.

While we forge ahead, Kenyans should not deal with the feeling of helplessness that comes with the release of another MP-focused report thinking it won’t have a clear way forward. Unbeknownst to most Kenyans, the power to chart the way forward has always been in their hands as laid out in the Constitution. Kenyans can and should be actively involving themselves in in the law and budget-making process to make their views count. Sideshows shouldn’t distract them from their right to information on pertinent issues and laws, which is the mandate of their MP.

Kenyans should not feel powerless and bound to an underperforming MP considering that Article 104 (1) gives the electorate the right to recall a representative before the end of their term. Kenyans should not be bound to unconstitutional laws passed in Parliament since they have the right to go to court and challenge them. Finally, when your representative uses the NG-CDF as their defense, ask them to show tangible proof of development facilitated by the spending of the fund.