- An antagonistic approach to issues aimed at ridiculing and inciting the public against particular individuals or public officers is only but a self-imposed role of a member of parliament.
- Recent public utterances by Deputy Speaker Gladys Boss somewhere in Uasin Gishu County, declaring that in three weeks’ time, some senior police officers in the County whom she mentioned by name will not only leave but be sacked from the service was demeaning.
I happened to have seen the sun for the first time at the time when Kenya’s second president, the late Daniel Arap Moi was serving his first year in office.
Although I was a toddler and didn’t know what was transpiring, the stories I was told as I was growing up about the years that preceded my coming into this earth were both good and bad.
It is typical of every nation.
I was told of how people fought for independence and how lives were lost, many maimed and displaced.
I was told of how the gallant sons and daughters of this country fought tirelessly with the British colonialists leading to the independence we celebrate every 12 of December.
Many gains were made, post-independence.
We attained the internal self-governance that enabled us to become a republic with all the sovereignty we enjoy today.
That’s why whenever the head of state speaks, he says, Kenya is a sovereign state.
This word is clearly embedded in the constitution of Kenya.
In modern democracies like Kenya, sovereign power rests with the people and is exercised through their representatives in parliament in this case, in both the Senate and the National Assembly.
Members of Parliament, when elected by the people become their ambassadors at the national level.
They have the full mandate and the will of the electors to ensure resources are distributed equitably, development reaches their areas/regions, address the concerns of their constituents during debates in parliament, ask questions on pertinent issues and make laws that govern the country.
Over the years, the role of a member of parliament has continued to be redefined, either for personal gains or for the satisfaction of the powers that be.
Some members of parliament, once elected to parliament, immediately usurp roles that are not defined in the constitution.
Some start acting as merchants of the state, wheeler dealers and bootlickers, for lack of a better word.
In the morning of my career, in the early 2000s, I had the privilege of sharing a table with three men whose history has been generous to record their activity in our post-independent parliament and subsequent parliaments.
They are the late Martin Joseph Shikuku, the late George Nthenge and the late Dr Bonaya Godana.
It was at the old media centre next to the old library of parliament, now converted into offices of the Senate.
I was the only odd one out in this group but sat there by virtue of being a television news reporter who was eager to learn from gentlemen.
Godana, being a sitting member of parliament ordered tea and snacks and signed for it.
The gentlemen reminisced their days together as members of the famous seventh parliament which Godana was the Deputy Speaker and the other two gentlemen sat on the volatile, aggressive and no-nonsense opposition benches.
I was in standard eight in 1993 when the life of the seventh parliament began and I loved listening to the report of their proceedings on ‘Leo katika bunge’ programme on KBC radio.
Newspapers too dedicated pages to report on debates in parliament. And so, their discussion was familiar to me.
One thing I learnt from their two-hour talk was that the role of a member of parliament is to champion the rights of his/her people through the right channels, either on the floor of the house or visiting the relevant offices to have a particular matter addressed.
An antagonistic approach to issues aimed at ridiculing and inciting the public against particular individuals or public officers is only but a self-imposed role of a member of parliament.
Recent public utterances by Deputy Speaker Gladys Boss somewhere in Uasin Gishu County, declaring that in three weeks’ time, some senior police officers in the County whom she mentioned by name will not only leave but be sacked from the service was demeaning.
Her utterances were meant to incite the public against the officers who were not given room to defend themselves.
In Parliament, the conduct of a member of parliament or public officer cannot be discussed without a substantive motion.
Madam Boss, being the custodian of house rules ought to have exercised sobriety in handling the matter.
Instead, she resorted to acts of barbarism, archaism and backwardness in dealing with the matter.
Public admonishing of people amounts to incitement.
It is an old-fashioned way of dealing with issues.
We are in the 21st Century for Christ’s sake.
If a police officer has failed to exercise his/her duties effectively, there are channels to use to have the matter addressed, and that cannot be going to the public and start shouting their names and saying how you will use your connections or closeness to power to have them sacked.
Respect must be our second name.
Philip Etale is the ODM party Director of Communications.