Friday, July 18, 2008



Friday, July 18, 2008
By Lumiti Khabuchi
Kenya Times

KENYAN leaders, a number of them long used to impunity and opaque dealings have no choice but to change tact. The reason, an assertive and uncompromising legislature and a vibrant, almost nosy Fourth Estate.

Buzzwords such as accountability, transparency and good governance are being given fresh impetus and meaning, much to the discomfort of members of the executive wing of government, more so Cabinet ministers.

There must be ministers who are finding their posh offices occasionally most suffocating. Should this trend continue? Opinion is unanimous that an assertive parliament can only enhance good governance practices and spur this country to higher achievements. By acting public gadflies MPs, ensure the legislature fulfills their oversight role on behalf of the people.

The practice has been impunity with which the executive has been managing affairs of state. Kenyans have suffered massive losses as leaders assumed they And with a catalogue of Acts strengthening transparency, days for those who went to positions of leadership to expressly feather their nests could be gone. Every other day in this country, there is likely to be a newspaper headline exposing some wrong doing which perpetrators would rather were swept under the carpet.

In so doing, Kenya is being transformed into a country where the era of ‘anything goes’ is becoming history. Every minister, permanent secretary or some other public servant has a reason to look over their shoulders lest somebody disfigures their career. Recently, the House forced unceremonious exit of Finance minister Amos Kimunya over the controversial sale of the Grand Regency Hotel.

That it required the intervention of a fellow minister who literary played the whistle blower role. Orengo felt more compelled to forsake the principle of collective responsibility arising from the unprocedural manner the hotel had been sold and duly informed Kenyans. Even as Kimunya caved in just a day after he had sworn not to bow to pressure, Kenyans celebrated and had the last laugh. If the media had on its part not amplified the saga, chances are that the scandal would not have seen the light of day.

Leaders may occasionally find media irritating but the watch-dog role newsmen play is important for the welfare of society. After Kimunya, questions have been raised over the manner Immigration minister Otieno Kajwang’ handled the permit saga in respect of a number of foreign missionaries.

Had the minister not come out clearly to explain circumstances under which he cleared some foreigners into the country, he was as good as finished. And currently in the eye of a storm is Deputy Prime Minister Uhuru Kenyatta over matters that amount to abuse of office. Uhuru is accused of misusing his powers as minister for local government in the nomination of councillors.

The ghosts of these councilliors are now hanging around his neck like an albatross. It is clear that unless the minister comes out openly to tell Kenyans what prevailed, resorting to ethnic cocoons for protection will not do much in helping sort out the matters at hand. Some legislators drawn from the larger Mt. Kenya region the other day came out in support of the DPM.

However, instead of responding to critical matters at hand, they resorted to petty ethnic politics. It is inexplicable that anybody who is raising a patriotic matter should be subjected to the insults the PNU MPs directed at Ababu Namwamba who had declared he would raise the censure motion.

The laager mentality is something of yesteryears politics and when such politics are being embraced by fairly younger generation of players, then ones heart bleeds for our country. My take is that Uhuru acted in contravention of the law and the truth about his unilateral actions must be investigated. Only this way shall we be building a society where the constitution reigns supreme.

If Chief Whip George Thuo and his group have evidence linking Kajwang to graft, for heavens sake let them not spare the man. But this can not be on the basis of quid -pro- quo.

It has clearly emerged that however senior some one might be, as long as they are holding public office, there is need for accountability and responsibility. Parliamentarians must not be intimidated to lift their eyes off the business at hand.