- I submit that the reason why the Punguza Mizigo initiative has failed in county assemblies is because we do not have warriors. We have gladiators in an arena.
- In economic-speak, the trick they have used to defeat this bill is known as the poison pill.
Unrealistic. Populist. Unsubstantial. Retrogressive. These are a few of the choice adjectives that county assemblies have christened the Punguza Mizigo Bill as their reasons for rejecting its proposals.
Punguza Mizigo is a constitutional amendment bill that seeks to inter alia reduce parliamentary expenditure in Kenya from Sh36.8 billion to Sh5 billion per year; reduce the number of MPs from 416 to 147; abolish MCA and Senate nominations; reduce the presidential two five-year terms to one seven-year term; and abolish the position of deputy governor.
To any rational mortal, these all seem to be very sensible proposals. So begs the question, why has it suffered such immense defeat in most county assemblies? And those shooting it down are the very people that are expected to be the custodians of the interests of their electorates?
On several occasions, we have witnessed MCAs' barbaric conduct in the county assemblies across the nation. They have physically assaulted each other, broken furniture and desecrated the very spaces and instruments that are intended and designed to create law and order.
And their reasons have been as flimsy as chiffon, ranging from disagreements on reinstated and replacement of House speakers; on budget stalemates; and over party nominations. Matters that any person worthy of the title honourable could have amicably settled.
Going by the number of county assemblies across the country that have engaged in fist fights, it is not a secret that our elected representatives have a warlike not a warrior culture. Allow me to explain.
So rather than think about posterity, the MCAs have projected the proposals on themselves and where they would like to position themselves politically in the future.
On one hand, warrior cultures cultivate both the lover and the fighter, so that a person knows when to fight, does not take trivial things as an affront, and knows the value of what he takes from another, whether that is his pride, his dignity, or his life.
With warriors, fights and battles are a last resort. In the heart of a warrior is an unconditional willingness to protect other people from harm. A warrior trains and prepares with the knowledge that they might have to protect themselves or someone else. Thus they dedicate themselves to a cause or a goal greater than themselves.
On the other hand, warlike cultures cultivate gladiators whose only purpose is domination, control and gaining dominion over others. They only know how to fight one way, which is physical. They fight for personal gain and only know competition where winning is a zero-sum game. They have no ethics or morals. In this culture, you don’t take what you need, but what you want, and lash out at whatever hurts or disagrees with you.
I submit that the reason why the Punguza Mizigo initiative has failed in county assemblies is because we do not have warriors. We have gladiators in an arena. And this has subsequently made the bill a poisoned chalice. A poisoned chalice is something that seems very good when it is first received, but in fact does great harm to the person who receives it.
So rather than think about posterity, the MCAs have projected the proposals on themselves and where they would like to position themselves politically in the future. In accepting the bill, those that have aspirations for becoming MPs, know that their chances have shrunk significantly; those with ambitions to become deputy governors, know that their dreams are dead on arrival; and those who are nominated, know that this would be the last time they would be enjoying their easy ride to Parliament.
In economic-speak, the trick they have used to defeat this bill is known as the poison pill. The poison pill is a provision in a bill that leads to people who would have supported it opposing it instead. In every account, when the MCAs have rejected the bill, the top reason they have cited is the provision to reduce the number of MPs which will result in under-representation particularly in the populous counties. But why are they grieving more than the bereaved? Have we the electorate, complained about being under-represented?
In accepting the bill, those that have aspirations for becoming MPs, know that their chances have shrunk significantly; those with ambitions to become deputy governors, know that their dreams are dead on arrival; and those who are nominated, know that this would be the last time they would be enjoying their easy ride to Parliament.
Finally, my unsolicited advice is to Wanjiku; one day a man travelled deep into the jungle and met a monkey. He said hello and was surprised when the monkey returned his greeting. He asked the monkey about this and the monkey said, “yes we can speak, we just hide it”. The man then told the monkey that we humans say that monkeys and humans are of the same family. The monkey was really happy to meet his new relative.
Suddenly, a lion charged towards them and the monkey quickly pulled the man high up into a tree. When night fell, the man and the monkey agreed to sleep in turns while the other stayed up keeping watch. The man slept first at which point the lion pleaded with the monkey to throw the man down and he would set the monkey free. The monkey declined and told the lion that the man was his family.
When it was the man’s turn to keep watch, the lion pleaded with him to throw the monkey down. Without hesitation, the man threw the monkey down, but he quickly woke up and jumped back into the tree before the lion could pounce on him. Filled with embarrassment, the man did not speak again to the monkey.
Eventually, the lion fell asleep and the monkey helped the man climb down the tree and walked him safely all the way to the edge of the jungle. Before turning back, he requested if he could ask the man a favour. At this the man was so happy that the monkey still considered him his family despite the fact that he had betrayed his trust. The monkey said to him, “kindly do not mention to anyone that we are family”.
Likewise, next time an elected official or one running for office calls you family in order to solicit for your support or vote, remember the monkey. Be advised that you are not related.
“Out of every one hundred men, ten shouldn’t even be there, eighty are just targets, nine are the real fighters, and we are lucky to have them, for they make the battle. Ah!, but one, one is a warrior, and he will bring the others back - Heraclitus