By Jerry Okungu
October 8, 2012
Not all MPs in Kenya’s tenth parliament are thugs and pirates. Not MPs are all robbers that visit the public coffers in the dead of the night then load sacks of cash into their tracks when the rest of Kenyans are asleep. But we have just about 30 such criminals in parliament that are fond of passing outrageous bills that border on high treason. If they are not amending the finance bill at night to line up their pockets, they mutilate drafted laws to allow them to hop from party to party until the cows come home. If they are not doing either of the above, they are busy watering down Ethics and Integrity law to allow thieves, murderers, drug lords and rapists to continue being elected to public office.
The 30 MPs who awarded themselves cash did not work alone. They were in cahoots with that disgraced commission called the Parliamentary Service Commission and the Minister for Finance. They must have got the nod that indeed they could get away with it. After all, the Speaker of the National Assembly had earlier publicly stated that MPs earned peanuts and therefore deserved a pay rise.
Kenyans can no longer be hurt or shocked by strange activities in parliament. The behavior of Kenya’s MPs has become a way of life and sadly enough, citizens are getting used to their mischief. It is the kind of insensitivity that numbs the body.
However, there is one thing that citizens of this country can do. And the media can help with this. Kenyans need to have the names and pictures of all those 30 MPs that conspired to steal from Kenyans last Thursday night. Their names, pictures and constituencies they come from should be public knowledge; published in all media channels for seven days so that Kenyans can digest the list of shame.
Having done that, ordinary Kenyans should move to court to remove them from parliament and permanently bar them from holding public office since what they did went against public morality, ethics and integrity. They misused their positions and office to enrich themselves. It amounted to abuse of office.
Recent events in parliament, the Executive and judiciary arms of government indicate that the new constitution is indeed under threat. The good parts of the constitution that made it attractive to Kenyans at the referendum and promulgation are being eaten away bit by bit by the lords of impunity who feel threatened by the very constitution we passed just the other day.
If the constitution created the Commission on the Implementation of the Constitution to be in charge of bills for the implementation of the constitution, where does parliament get powers to mutilate such bills to serve its selfish interests?
If the constitution created the Salaries and Remuneration Commission for all state officers in the public service, where do parliamentarians get the powers to be the employer and employees at the same time?
If the constitution created the separation of powers among the three arms of government, where does the Executive get powers to disobey court orders?
If the constitution created Judges and Magistrates Vetting Board, where does the judiciary get the powers to halt its operations?
Blatant disregard for the constitution when it suits us in parliament, Executive or Judiciary does not auger well for the well being of Kenya, more so at this critical moment in our history.
What happened in parliament last week was callous and dangerous for this nation. It was the kind of act that makes governments be overthrown. It was an incitement of the highest order; more so when it came so soon after the long teachers and doctors’ strike. What these 30 MPs ended up telling Kenyans was that indeed there is money to be played around with however, only MPs are allowed to enjoy that privilege.
One CIC commissioner had an interesting thing to say about this unfortunate bill. He was of the opinion that since the bill was against the constitution, it would remain a nullity even if the President signed it into law; meaning that whoever paid the MPs such amounts would be held personally responsible in a court of law.
Thank God the President had the presence of mind to reject the bill as unconstitutional and unsustainable
However, I hope there is room for the law to go further. These 30 MPs who passed the obnoxious bill must each be held personally responsible for planning to fraudulently obtain money from the public. They have to be charged with economic crime and punished for it so that they become an example to others who may in future want to go through the same route in the dead of the night.
These 30 MPs may have inadvertently conspired to cause chaos in Kenya on the eve of the elections so that elections could be postponed.
Imagine what other Kenyan workers would do if they realized that there was cash to be lavished on 222 law makers and their Speaker while they went hungry every night! What would happen if all civil servants, teachers, doctors and state corporation workers downed their tools demanding pay rises?
What would happen if all the jobless youths, university students, lecturers and non teaching staff went on strike demanding jobs, allowances and more pay? What would happen if all the armed forces, the police, the military and prison guards went on strike to demand better pay and terms of service? There would be no end to chaos in Kenya. It is the reason this reckless act by MPs must be stopped in its tracks.