Wednesday, February 15, 2012



Kenya National Assembly Speaker, Mr Kenneth Marende. Photo/WILLIAM OERI
Kenya National Assembly Speaker, Mr Kenneth Marende. Photo/WILLIAM OERI 
Posted  Friday, January 20  2012 at  20:47
House Speaker Kenneth Marende has a grand vision. He longs for the day when the whole continent will elect MPs to sit in the Pan African Parliament.
These MPs will then keep the African Union on its toes. That Parliament will also make laws to govern the continent’s regimes.
Mr Marende hopes the AU will fund such a body to ensure an end to institutionalised corruption and impunity; runaway poverty and general under-development.
The Speaker must surely know what he’s talking about, having tasted the fruits of legislative autonomy that Kenya’s Parliament enjoys.
Under his tenure, Kenya’s Parliament — even without an official opposition — has stepped up its oversight role and kept the Executive on its toes.
The problem is, when it comes to continental politics, there are many dynamics at play.
It all boils down to money. Who will pay for the sustenance of the Parliament? Who will manage the election of country representatives to that body?
Currently, countries subscribe to the Parliament and second MPs. As a result, it has been relegated to a continental lobby without “virulent teeth that will bite, cut and chew” as Mr Marende envisions.
Mr Marende told the Pan Africa Parliament this week in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, that the first step to ensure that governance on the continent improves will be to amend the treaty establishing the AU and set up an autonomous legislative authority with continental jurisdiction.
“Africa has a common destiny and has to embrace policies, mechanisms and strategies that lead to integration, cohesion and solidarity that will enable it to harness opportunities available to the continent.
“The Pan African Parliament is the centrepiece, the engine that has to make this happen,” Mr Marende said.
Now, imagine someone like Dr Boni Khalwale, the firebrand lawmaker from Ikolomani standing up in such forum to contribute to debate on the problems of Zimbabwe:
“To bring economic stability to Zimbabwe, (the President, Mr Robert) Mugabe must go! To end impunity in that land, Mugabe must go! To ensure media freedom, Mugabe must go!”
Or you can picture Gitobu Imanyara, another no-nonsense MP from Imenti Central contributing to debate on the International Criminal Court arrest warrant for Sudan’s President Omar Hassan al Bashir:
“We cannot entertain suspects of international crimes to continue leading our people while slaughtering some of them! That should stop.”
That would be something! Or you can picture the Parliamentarians debating the censure of Kenya’s President Mwai Kibaki for sending troops to Somalia, when the AU has a functional and operational peacekeeping force on the ground.
But for now it remains just part of Mr Marende’s grand vision. And no, he is not following in the footsteps of Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi who dreamt of being the President of a United States of Africa. Or is he?