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February 16, 2019

Dissolve Parliament over bribery to win war on graft

Members of the National assembly at Parliament
Members of the National assembly at Parliament
The bribery and corruption fiasco that have engulfed the 12 Parliament are a national shame. This is a major blemish that needs resolute remedial action to redeem the image of both the institution and mother Kenya.

How ironical and embarrassing that such an infamy can be executed at a time the country was priding itself in renewed efforts to purge corruption and impunity, which have frustrated growth, development, the rule of law and national unity for years?

From the shocking misconduct by members of the National Assembly amidst flying accusations of real time bribery in the chamber and in the corridors of Parliament, it is now obvious that a sizeable number of MPs are incorrigible Lords of Impunity. To them, even the ongoing widely popular anti-corruption purge means nothing!

It is now instructive that the country will only reclaim its heart and soul by rising to the occasion and reining in on this Parliament, and the main culprits in the latest shame, in the most ruthless and effective manner. This scandal confirms our worst fears that the root cause of most of the problems chocking this country can be found in leadership.

Our leadership needs a major overhaul. A rejigging of Parliament offers the ideal starting point. I am talking from a point of knowledge, having been a member of the 11th Parliament and one fully engaged with matters Parliament most of the time. Desperate times call for desperate measures.

In the refreshing spirit of national reconciliation and reconstruction powered by the handshake, the country urgently needs to radically reform political leadership to boost this infant transformation effort.

National rescue and regeneration are top priorities for all patriotic Kenyans at this crucial time in our country’s History. It is obvious that all our efforts to reform won’t yield if we fail to tackle the pillars and enablers of the undesired past. Corrupt, non-responsive, partisan parliaments and legislators have been regular hurdles in the pursuit of the national good.

To be able to realistically install progressive leadership and constitutionalism, Kenya should get ruthless and urgently crash pockets within national political leadership that stand in the way of reforms. The current embattled Parliament is one such.

The Constitution may be seemingly silent on any provisions for summary recall of Parliament midstream for gross transgressions, but its spirit is for vacation from office all state officers who bring shame and  disrepute to public office. So is the 12th Parliament, almost collectively, when Kenyans review the conduct of committees, various levels of leadership therein and scandalous handling of various tasks taken on the floor.

None other than National Assembly Speaker Justin Muturi himself recently was forced to openly castigate members of committees of getting too cozy with scandalous persons of interest summoned for questioning over various offences of great pain to citizens. This was witnessed during the grilling of suspects in the Solai Dam tragedy, sugar imports saga and several others.

Allegations about some legislators taking bribes to make crucial decisions on important bills and motions in the House are sickening. The country has been betrayed!

The illicit developments during the sensitive and controversial contraband-cum-poisonous sugar imports have powerfully vindicated the press as true whistle-blowers of the rot in the House. Instructively this happened against a backdrop of attempts to punish and cow a section of parliamentary journalists who blew the lid off the rot.

The allegations, which have been corroborated variously by several legislators, some who resisted crude attempts to ensnare them last Thursday, shockingly come hot on the heels of earlier media reports indicting Parliament as a house of corruption and bribe taking. It has caused pandemonium across the country, with many cursing.

The bribery incident is just the latest in a litany of other regrettable conduct of MPs. The Holy book says that if it be your eye that makes you sin, then get rid of it. Likewise, if it is our Parliament that will stand in the way of the war to eradicate corruption, impunity and lawlessness in Kenya, then we are duty bound to get rid of it.

There has been precedent. In 1983, former President Daniel Moi when faced with challenges to his hold onto power with talk of camps within Parliament fomenting factional frictions, he dissolved Parliament and called for a snap general election. It worked for him to achieve the goal he had of having a user-friendly Parliament to suit him in those circumstances.

Today, our goals as a country together with this “handshake regime” are more compelling. The country badly needs a user-friendly Parliament to boost and oil the war on corruption, the fight against impunity, against negative ethnicity and to entrench reforms for political and economic transformation. There is need for a Parliament of credible, focused patriots, who will help the Executive and national institutions in mobilising the country in the ongoing battles, while churning out progressive, ideal legislations to anchor the new trajectory.

Therefore, we should urgently pick out any opening allowing for the disbandment of this 12th Parliament to call for fresh national parliamentary elections to weed out the chuff and bring in new, more reliable minds for fresh ideas and sanity.


The writer is ODM national treasurer and former MP for Kitutu-Masaba



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