Elites are rap­ing our val­ues, and peo­ple are get­ting testy

Be­trayed by its rep­re­sen­ta­tives in Par­lia­ment, the pop­u­lace is get­ting dan­ger­ously des­per­ate

Nairobi Law Monthly - - Review - PADDY KARANJA

Late last year, EACC chief ex­ec­u­tive Halakhe Waqo handed to the speaker of the Na­tional as­sem­bly Justin Mu­turi an in­ves­tiga­tive re­port which re­vealed cor­rupt prac­tices and mis­use of par­lia­men­tary priv­i­leges by mem­bers of the Au­gust House.

Ac­cord­ing to the re­port MPS were found to have made fic­ti­tious mileage claims and con­nived in earn­ing un­der­served sit­ting al­lowances. At that time Mu­turi con­curred with the re­port and promised that change was go­ing to take place to en­sure ac­count­abil­ity. Af­ter a fort­night, how­ever, when the re­port was to be tabled in the house, MPS threat­ened to im­peach the Speaker who backed down.

Our fledg­ling democ­racy is un­der real threat, and the schemers of its an­ni­hi­la­tion are obliv­i­ous of the same. They in­stead cam­ou­flage as voices of rea­son rid­ing on the pop­u­lar rhetoric of a bet­ter Kenya, dis­cred­it­ing ev­ery­thing be­ing done by oth­ers. Yet the mo­ti­va­tion of their ac­tions is that of self ag­gran­dis­e­ment and greed for power and quick money.

The rep­re­sen­ta­tives whom we have en­trusted with the cus­tody of this democ­racy have be­come wolves in the sheep’s cloth­ing. It is no longer about “Wan­jiku”, when they get to Par­lia­ment. The con­vic­tions and the val­ues of good gov­er­nance change very fast, es­pe­cially at the view of the win­dow through which I see the pro­ceeds of na­tional cof­fers. We have an as­sem­bly that has abused its pow­ers with un­fet­tered fre­quency and im­punity, and has not held those pow­ers and priv­i­leges on be­half of “Wan­jiku” as en­vis­aged by the law.

MPS have bla­tantly re­fused to be ac­count­able and to be asked ques­tions of in­tegrity yet they sit in com­mit­tees to vet oth­ers on in­tegrity. It is as if they have a di­vine right and ab­so­lute power to do with us as they please. It is a tragedy in­deed.

The chair of the Jus­tice and Le­gal Affairs Com­mit­tee Sa­muel Chep­konga stood in the house and as­serted that EACC can­not be al­lowed to dis­par­age mem­bers of the House by re­port­ing on their mis­con­duct (Ci­ti­zen TV). Ac­cord­ing to him, telling MPS to live right as far as pub­lic re­sources are con­cerned is in it­self dis­parag­ing (how ter­mi­nolo­gies change when they don’t favour one).

Mem­bers re­solved to shake the EACC again like the way they did with Pa­trick Lu­mumba, and send Halakhe home for do­ing his job. It is all very un­for­tu­nate that the in­sti­tu­tion we cre­ated to guard us against ex­ploita­tion by rogue elites is at the mercy of a rogue leg­is­la­ture, one de­void of cred­i­bil­ity. The House has no moral au­thor­ity to pass any law if it can­not be ac­count­able on its pow­ers and obey the ex­ist­ing law of the land. MPS have been on the ram­page pun­ish­ing or­gans of govern­ment that rub them the wrong way for de­mand­ing ac­count­abil­ity.

On De­cem­ber 19 last year, Kup­pet Sec­re­taryGen­eral Akello Misori, was quoted in the Stan­dard news­pa­pers as say­ing that the union would lobby Par­lia­ment to dis­man­tle con­sti­tu­tional com­mis­sions that stood in the way of teach­ers’ de­mands for higher pay.

From th­ese ac­counts, it is very ev­i­dent that those who hold power, in­clud­ing teach­ers – who are now a semi-elite group – have em­braced a cul­ture of im­punity to the ex­tent that they can­not with­stand dic­tates of the Con­sti­tu­tion when the lat­ter does not favour them. Teach­ers, like MPS, have demon­strated that the Con­sti­tu­tion is only supreme when it speaks to their de­sires, even when the greater pub­lic in­ter­est is at stake. They have trans­formed their rep­re­sen­ta­tive or­gans into rogue en­ti­ties which ad­vo­cate for the rule of the jun­gle to get what they want at the ex­pense of the pub­lic.

Kenyans passed the con­sti­tu­tion in the hope that it would lib­er­ate them from bad gov­er­nance, mis­rule and ex­ploita­tion by the elites through plun­der­ing of na­tional re­sources, a prac­tice that for a long time had con­demned our chil­dren and suc­ces­sive gen­er­a­tions to poverty and mis­ery.

The Con­sti­tu­tion and its wise drafters recog­nised that man is greedy, self­ish and can eas­ily re­lapse to the state of na­ture ide­alised by Thomas Hobbes, in the ab­sence of the rule of law. In pre­vent­ing this

sce­nario in a coun­try where re­sources are scarce, it es­tab­lished struc­tures to con­trol this way­ward be­hav­iour at all lev­els of power, a be­hav­iour which would oth­er­wise deny the larger pub­lic its so­cial and eco­nomic rights.

Con­sti­tu­tional com­mis­sions are a power reg­u­la­tor. They me­di­ate power re­la­tions be­tween the more pow­er­ful and the less pow­er­ful. They are the only hope for an eq­ui­table and just so­ci­ety which ma­jor­ity of Kenyans crave for. A com­mis­sion that stops the Leg­is­la­ture from award­ing it­self out­ra­geous salaries is the saviour of the tax payer. A com­mis­sion that reg­u­lates and har­monises the pub­lic wage bill, re­strict­ing some or­gans of govern­ment from over­bur­den­ing Kenyans and slic­ing huge chunks of the na­tional cake at the ex­pense of oth­ers is the only hope in ad­min­is­ter­ing equity and re­cov­er­ing money to fund wide­spread de­vel­op­ment.

It looks like teach­ers have found like minds in the mem­bers of par­lia­ment in ad­vo­cat­ing for the rule of the jun­gle when it comes to salaries, by con­niv­ing to dis­man­tle in­sti­tu­tions and plun­der the econ­omy as they wish. It is wor­ry­ing, look­ing at the con­fi­dence ex­uded by the teach­ers’ body in pur­su­ing this line.

We must ac­cept the char­ac­ter of the law and cul­ti­vate a cul­ture of sta­bil­ity and con­sis­tency, a gen­er­a­tion whose word matches with ac­tion. We need to dis­card a men­tal­ity and mind­set such as that ex­hib­ited by the likes of Al­fred Keter, they of con­flict­ing ac­count­abil­i­ties. This crop of lead­ers be­lieves that we can set the law aside when it of­fends us be­cause “we made it, af­ter all”. Yet we pro­claim re­spect and obe­di­ence to the same law when we seek to take away a job from some­one we hate; act­ing as mer­ce­nar­ies for hire. This selec­tive ap­pli­ca­tion of, and al­le­giance to, the law is a dan­ger­ous can­cer to this coun­try.

The Con­sti­tu­tion we passed so over­whelm­ingly, and with such en­thu­si­asm, has sud­denly be­come a bad doc­u­ment. Those who cham­pi­oned for it are the same ones who want it changed. It can only be ar­gued and le­git­i­mately so, that the pre­vail­ing political ar­range­ments have de­nied them the op­por­tu­nity to ex­ploit the same con­sti­tu­tion for their self­ish gains. We can ac­cu­rately hy­poth­e­sise that were they to be in an ex­pe­di­ent po­si­tion, def­i­nitely they wouldn’t de­mand for any changes.

The coun­try is re­laps­ing into a sorry state, where we pro­fess the rule of law when, and only when, it favours our de­sires; it is not worth our al­le­giance when it blocks us. That is not the in­tent of a con­sti­tu­tion. A con­sti­tu­tion is a two edged sword, it pro­vides and de­nies in or­der to cre­ate equity and fair­ness.

Sad though, is the fact that the pro­po­nents of con­sti­tu­tional amend­ment are the same politi­cians who are plun­der­ing our re­sources. We have been told more money is re­quired in the coun­ties, yet the lit­tle the coun­ties have re­ceived has been char­ac­terised by wan­ton cor­rup­tion and wastage. So why do th­ese pro­po­nents want money to coun­ties? Prob­a­bly that’s where there ex­ist loop­holes to plun­der more. Have the coun­ties be­come ac­count­able enough to war­rant any in­crease? It is an as­sertive no.

There is im­mi­nent dan­ger and con­spir­acy to deny na­tional govern­ment the re­sources cru­cial for na­tional projects as a way of weak­en­ing the of­fice of the Pres­i­dent, and to balka­nise the na­tion along eth­nic lines for political ex­pe­di­ency. Weak­en­ing the pres­i­dency be­cause a cer­tain in­di­vid­ual does not oc­cupy the of­fice is miss­ing the point and be­ing my­opic.

We need a sense of na­tion­hood for us to sur­vive; the pres­i­dency is that pil­lar of our one­ness and we need to sup­port its func­tions. Peo­ple have been mes­merised by the county govern­ment pow­ers such that some are imag­ing of their own ter­ri­to­rial in­tegrity. The un­savoury vo­cab­u­lary of our “peo­ple”, our “re­sources” and our “county” is in­creas­ingly gain­ing mo­men­tum, pre­cip­i­tat­ing an aura of eth­nic iso­la­tion and sec­tar­ian ide­olo­gies.

The Con­sti­tu­tion is our guardian; in­di­vid­u­als will come and go, and we must not let politi­cians only to guide this amend­ment de­bate; they should not be the ones to de­ter­mine the wrongs and rights in the law. “Wan­jiku” must raise wor­thy and gen­uine spokesper­sons to steer this de­bate. Civil so­ci­ety or­gans must be at the cen­tre of the en­vis­aged ref­er­en­dum.

The truth is that the pop­u­lace is be­com­ing des­per­ate; it has been be­trayed by the rep­re­sen­ta­tives in Par­lia­ment. Th­ese cus­to­di­ans of our democ­racy are rap­ing it left, right and cen­tre. The cor­rup­tion in govern­ment min­istries looks like a re­venge mis­sion on the im­punity of Par­lia­ment. Work­ers in the ser­vice ar­gue “if par­lia­ment is do­ing it and get­ting away scot free, why can’t we?”

For how long will this democ­racy stand and for whose ben­e­fit?

“COR­RUP­TION IN GOVERN­MENT MIN­ISTRIES LOOKS LIKE A RE­VENGE MIS­SION ON THE IM­PUNITY OF PAR­LIA­MENT. WORK­ERS IN THE SER­VICE AR­GUE ‘IF PAR­LIA­MENT IS DO­ING IT AND GET­TING AWAY SCOT FREE, WHY CAN’T WE?’”

Par­lia­ment build­ing.

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