By Jerry Okungu
June 23, 2013
Nobody expected that in three short months following the March elections, Kenyans would embark on the road to 2017 election mode. Yet this is what has happened. A spat between the Senate and the National Assembly, fuelled by President Uhuru Kenyatta’s action on the controversial law on Revenue Division did it all.
Soon after it became known that the Jubilee had caved in to MPs over the law makers’ salaries and lucrative allowances, teachers did not waste time. The KUPPET and KNUT officials rallied their members to demand their 1997 collective agreement which successive governments have been ignoring.
What the striking teachers are saying is simple: if this government can afford better pay for MPs and expensive laptops for children still struggling to learn their ABC and basic numbers under a tree at a cost of Ksh 60 billion, why not pay teachers well, construct classrooms and equip schools properly. More importantly, why not build computer labs for each school to be shared by all children in lower primary institutions at a much lower cost and use the rest of the billions to pay teachers well?
As if not to be left behind, the Kenyatta National Hospital also downed their tools almost simultaneously with Nairobi county workers. While KNH staff was demanding their Ksh 4 billion salary arrears and allowances, Nairobi county workers were crying foul over their three weeks delayed end of May salaries.
The decision by the Senate to lodge a complaint at the Supreme Court while at the same time embarking on the popular campaign to amend the constitution points to one thing: the Supreme Court may not rule in their favor no matter how logical and factual their case may be. They have the Supreme Court’s decision on the Raila Uhuru case to go by.
If indeed the Senators stay united and forge a strong bond with county governors in dealing with a common threat from the Executive and National Assembly, it simply means for the next several weeks and even months, this group will be building the political momentum in readiness for the next elections. And if they succeed in forcing a referendum and actually win the referendum poll, they might just repeat the ODM script of 2006 when half of the Kibaki government opposed the constitution and actually defeated the government.
This move to rope in governors in the dispute between the Senate, National Assembly and the President could be the reason the Executive hurriedly arranged a meeting with all governors in Nairobi to reward them with special number plates for their officials and diplomatic passports. Whether the 47 number plates and 47 diplomatic passports will compensate them enough to make them abandon pursuit of their Ksh 48 billion deducted from their Senate allocations remains to be seen.
The kind of re-alignment is very much in conformity with Kenyan politics. It is a different kettle of fish. Alignments and realignments are the order of things in Kenya.
Right now, there is an interesting coming together of MPs from the ruling coalition and minority coalition. They are all united in clamoring for more cash from the Treasury come rain or shine. Even the clamor is led by Jubilee MPs who are the majority in the National Assembly; three of the most vocal MPs in support of higher salaries are Luo MPs from ODM strong holds that should not be supporting the ruling coalition to fleece the people of Kenya.
In fact if anything, the 11th parliament is beginning to look like parliament under Daniel arap Moi. The circus that is called the vetting of presidential appointments seemed to be well planned and choreographed with some CORD MPs behaving like the outsiders who choose to grieve more than the bereaved family. In almost all vetted officers, some CORD MPs seem just too eager to cut short the debate by asking the Speaker to go straight to the question to the floor. And they are always the same MPs. And to tell you the truth, the august house is beginning to look like a conveyor belt that allows both the chuff and grain to pass through.
In the senate, the situation is a little different. It would appear like all senators have forged some unity of purpose especially after some thoughtless MPs intimated prematurely that the National Assembly should disband the Senate. Here senators have seen the need to hang together or else they be hanged separately.
The fear of derailing the devolution and subsequently disbanding the senate, county assemblies and special seats is the reason the political temperatures will heat up earlier than we thought.
Disenchantment with the Uhuru government has not come too soon for the National Government alone. Governors in different parts of the country are equally feeling the heat. Take the case of the Governor of Nakuru County. Here the governor has chosen to defy his vetting board and appointed to his cabinet characters that had been rejected by the board. In this impunity department, Kisumu has chosen to lead the park. The new governor not only sleeps in a hotels just five minutes drive from his home but has chosen to spend Ksh 70 million on four wheel drive cars for his cabinet at a time when harvesting hyacinth is going to cost the tax payer Ksh 50 million!
All these actions put together can only point to one thing; we are soon going to find ourselves on the road to the 2017 elections an angry electorate.