It is no longer surprising for Members to make news for the wrong reasons. Our MPs have performed dismally, with the corruption albatross hanging around the necks of many of them getting heavier.
The House is mired in corruption scandals, with committees probing various issues of public interest the worst hit. Just last week, a parliamentary committee was in the news again for allegedly attempting to sugarcoat a report on importation of contaminated sugar.
Parliament is supposed to be an assemblage of men and women who ooze nobility and integrity at every turn. It is supposed to be a congress of select anointed by the electorate to represent them, make laws and oversight the government.
But unfortunately, greed has sullied a section of our honourables’ role as the last port of call for oversight and accountability. Parliamentary oversight function is one of the cornerstones of democracy.
The unremitting indictment of National Assembly and Senate over integrity has dealt a blow to its role as the guardian of public resources and interests. MPs have accused the media of waging a vendetta against them, but facts are stubborn.
In recent past, various National Assembly and Senate committees have engaged in a number of probes on matters of public interest. These committees have summoned State officers and private citizens on the same but to date, there have been few conclusive closures on these matters.
There are numerous cases where the committees have played to the public gallery courtesy of the media microphones, lenses and pens, but eventually nothing has come out of the media razzmatazz. The list is long. For example, the current probe on the sugar saga seems to have exposed the underhand deals suspected to be aimed at masking the truth on the matter that put Kenyans’ health at risk.
While their initial findings were even dismissed by their colleagues as “ridiculous and a big joke”, the current report to be debated this week has divided members, with some accusing the joint committee leadership of doctoring the final report to absolve some suspects.
The probe on the National Youth Service and Kenya Power corruption scandals was also hitting a cul-de-sac until the Directorate of Criminal Investigations and Director of Public Prosecutions seized the matters. In the last Parliament, a former Cabinet secretary accused a committee of demanding Sh10 million to help clear her name.
A number of times the MPs have also appeared to be frivolous and vengeful, especially when carrying vetting for people nominated for various positions. A case in point is how members of the Defence and Foreign Relations committee treated former Salaries and Remuneration Commission chair Sarah Serem for proposing the slashing of MPs salaries during her tenure.
Parliament has engaged in several other probes touching on almost all the facets of the economy but nothing meaningful has come out of the investigations. Yet the country continues to lose to greedy individuals. In the meantime, MPs earn allowances for the probes.
This circus must now come to an end. It is upon the leadership of the two Houses to rein in the renegade members because the work of Parliament is too critical to be left in the hands ravenous individuals. —[email protected]