It is important that the decorum and dignity of the House is upheld at all times. The image of Parliament in the public mind should be one where proceedings, debates and discussions take place with a view to resolve issues through a constructive and co-operative approach-. Pratibha Patil (an Indian Politician)
Since the promulgation of the new Constitution of Kenya, 2010, the resilient people of the Republic of Kenya have been subjected to all manners of theatrics, sideshows and intermittent conundrum by the legislative arm of the government the Kenya. Its ineptitude has led to the quandary we find ourselves in; a rogue Parliament, a seemingly peripheral Senate, a perceived rift and the rule of law.
The role of Parliament in making laws is sacrosanct. It is through that process that elected leaders execute their lawmaking function on behalf of the citizens. However, the underpinning of legislation is prudence. Conventionally those who are entrusted to do such must all times be judicious and exhibit a superior demeanor. This cannot be said of our Members of Parliament.
The key object of the Ethics & Ant-Corruption Commission, EACC (amendment) Bill, 2015 was to give the secretariat an upper hand over the Commissions. They wanted the Secretariat strengthened by wielding more prosecutorial powers while keeping Commissioners away from the core mandate of fighting graft, economic crimes & abuse of office
The terms of service of the chairperson and members of the Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission EACC, could be revised from permanent to part time basis if the Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission Amendment Bill 2015 introduced in the national assembly is enacted.
The Bill also seeks to increase the number of EACC commissioners from the current three to five on part time basis and not full time for a six year non-renewable term. According to the Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission Act, 2011 the chairperson and two members of the Commission are appointed on a full time basis for a single term of six years and are not eligible for re-appointment.
But the arrangement might change after a Bill seeking to amend the Act was introduced in the National Assembly for enactment. The amendment of the Justice and Legal Affairs Committee sought to amend section 4 of the principal act to increase composition of the commission from the current three to five commissioners but on a part time basis.
However, during the sitting of the plenary of the whole House, debatesdegenerated into shouting matches when the Hon. Member for Kiminini,Chris Wamalwa put spanner into the works by introducing frivolous and illegal amendments to the Bill to declare the seat of the CEO and Deputy CEO vacant. The Hon. Member veered off from the substance to individuals.Strangely, some Members raised flimsy issues, asked humdrum questions and made ridiculous claims that muddied the entire session and turn it into a theatre of absurd.
We are reliably informed that prominent personalities under investigation by the Ethics & Anti-Corruption Could have played a bigger role in the passage of the Bill which recommends the sacking of the team’s secretariat bosses. The manner in which MPs voted accross the political divide indicated that they were acting to save either a Cabinet Secretary or a Principal Secretary from their region or tribe. Their move was marked by revenge and partisan politics. Other MPs were bitter with the secretariat headed by the able CEO and his deputy for furnishing President Uhuru Kenyatta with the infamous list of shame tabled in Parliament in March that indicted many legislators, Cabinet Secretaries, principal secretaries, governors andparastatal chiefs. A number of those accused were forced out of office and their fate remains unclear.
Most MPs from Ukambani and the Rift Valley heartland of the United Republican Party (URP) all unanimously voted for the removal of the CEO, Mr. Waqo and his deputy. Some in central Kenya and Coast supported the amendment too. It is an open secret that most of those who supported the amendment are in one way or another allegedly mentioned directly or indirectlyin graft scandals. This is just a shallow bravado and hollow personal vendetta against the Chief Executive Officer, Mr.Halakhe Waqo and his deputy Mr. Michael Mubea came into play.
What was meant to be a sober engagement on amending a piece of legislative proposal turned into a showof circus! Mr. Waqo & Mr. Mubea were in the office not by priviledge or at the behest of any individual but by their constitutional right which was infringed by some Members of the August House.Their alleged removal from officeis purely against the rules of natural justice owing to the fact that the officers were made victims of circumstance devoid of fair hearing. Parliament does not have powers to sack public officers without following proper norms. This isblatant breach of the traditions, precedents, customs & usages of Commonwealth Parliamentary practices & procedures and other jurisdictions.
To buttress the above assertions, Suna East MP Mohamed Junet (ODM) candidly said, “There was a lot of political theatrics played on the floor of the House during the debates, it looked like any person who the Commission has accused of corruption had a representative in the House”. This is not the first time that the public has witnessed such a charade, just some weeks ago, principal secretary MonicaJuma was deliberately roasted by the very parliament on issues bordering on trivialities and other mundane things.
Moreover, Commission for the implementation of the Constitution Chairman, Charles Nyachae said, “Tothe extent that it seems to be intent rather than consequential , I think it’s bad practice and it is not consistent with the spirit of the exercise by parliament of its legislative powers”
This is subsequent extension ofmarginalization of individuals who hail from Northern Kenya, who scaled up the ladder against the odds. Mr. Waqo’s performance at the helm of EACC was and is exemplary and beyond reproach. This is due to fact that there is a good will between the graft body and the President in fighting corruption in the country. Interestingly, none of the official appointed to head the anti-graft body since its formation in the late 90s ever completed their term successfully in what has posed a challenge in the fight against corruption in the country.
The tragedy is that because of the perversion, parliament itself has lost moral authority to exercise its constitutional right of enacting laws as nobody will take it seriously. As states subsist in part by keeping their weakness from being known so is thequite of families to have their parliament within doors and to compose and determine all emergent differences there.
Given this background, it becomes obvious that the vote to send the EACC leadership packing was ill-motivated and sets a bad precedence as the National Assembly is not expected to interfere with operations of independent commissions. Even more disconcerting is that sacking the management team renders EACC technically unable to carry out its mandate.
Broadly, all these intrigues demonstrate the inherent challenges in the fight against corruption. The commission has fundamental flaws while many extraneous factors abound that compromise its ability to deal with graft. But amending the laws and targeting individuals is no panacea to the ills afflicting the agency.
It is time Parliament is told of its boundaries. It is like a river which has burst its banks, threatening to wash away everyone. The river must be brought back to its course. Kenyans deserve better practice of rule of law.
It is our humble petition on behalf of thegreat people of the larger Northern Kenya to His Excellency President,Uhuru Kenyatta, C.G.H, not to assent to the Bill with illegitimate clauses that was passed on Thursday 9th July, 2015.It is our hope that, His Excellency the President will heed our prayers.
LEADERS FROM NORTHERN KENYA,
YOUTH ALLIANCE & OTHER STAKE HOLDERS
NORTHERN KENYA CIVIL SOCIETY FORUM