Tribalism and graft have put our MPs on wrong side of history

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It is undisputable that Kenyans today view Members of Parliament and other leaders with cynicism, despair and resignation. Though a product of Kenya’s most fraudulent and chaotic election, MPs have outdone themselves in inaction, self-inflicted paralysis, pursuit of self-interest and mutual comfort in each other’s company at the table of corruption and tribalism.

It may sound unfair to lump all our MPs as corrupt, inept and the proverbial badgers with snouts on the honey. It may sound callous to describe those we gave the power to legislate the laws that govern us and to sit at the high table of decision make thus.

There are handful that mean well for the country and have never unfairly put themselves at the position of advantage in the race for oil and maize. They have also not stolen public time, for which they are paid, to stay away from House business, cavorting with influence peddlers and the mandarins of corruption whose networks transcend regimes.

The good ones are very few, going by the numbers in the House and the depth of debate on such crucial matters as the corruption in the Cabinet.

And when they contribute, one could discern the fact that the majority do play to the gallery, are mouthpieces of their party chiefs and “sponsors”, or are goaded by party and tribal interest. Others simply exhibit the thirst for blood to settle political scores.

Why do we say so? The previous Parliament of course had the ignominious record of taking away the powers of the Kenya Anti-Corruption Commission to probe cases that occurred before it was created in 2003. With the stroke of the pen, Parliament blocked investigations into some of the country’s most serious and ruinous graft cases.

Constituents’ interest

This Parliament continued to build on this disrepute and infamy. Like all the others, it would have been a miraculous feat if it was not caught up in the web of working few hours, passing too few laws and yet being paid too much, evading tax and filing fraudulent claims.

The worst, of course, came this week when it emerged that some of the MPs could have staked out for financial inducement to take a position that would either pave way for a special tribunal to try post-election violence suspects, or the International Criminal Court at The Hague. One can just hope that this is mere allegation or a dream.

Not that it would be entirely surprising that MPs could engage in acts that betray the fact that they do not represent us or engage in dealings that run against the grain of their constituents’ interest.

Debate on such serious issues as corruption in the Cabinet was poignantly left to a handful of MPs, largely those who have abrogated themselves the role of unofficial opposition in the House. For example, despite the monstrosity of the Triton Affair in which the Government risks losing Sh7.6 billion to an individual who has since fled the country, focus in the House was riveted on the maize scandal. Not that the latter is permissible but again the House must exhibit conviction and principle in what it does, otherwise the nation would think MPs are once again engaging in political shadow-boxing.

This Parliament is two faced, at one time it is caring and alive to the needs of the nation and wishes of the electorate. The next time it is mean, partisan and blinded by the ethnic and narrow political interests. In between it is united by communion at the tribal and graft table. We must confront our MPs with the fact that they are on the wrong side of history.

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