By Jedidah Nguyo with Ogova Ondego
Published May 16, 2015
“We are the Government…Who are you?..We are the ones who make the law…You are waiting to hear from who? God? Jesus Christ to call you?…We are the ones who make the law. We also break the law when we want to ….’
That was Alfred Keter, the Member of Parliament (MP) for Nandi Hills in Rift Valley who, in the company of Sonia Birdi, a nominated MP, is captured on video on January 24, 2015 while ranting, raving and threatening police officers and civil servants who man the Weigh Bridge in Gilgil on the Nairobi-Nakuru highway for impounding trucks related to the duo. What angered Keter and Birdi was the fact that the officers had stuck to the law and not bent it in the favour of the gods–Keter and Birdi–who make that law!
after this the speaker of Kenya’s National Assembly, Justin Muturi, narrowly survived being ousted from his position on March 24, 2015 for having failed to protect the “honour, dignity and integrity of Parliament”.
Patrick Musimba, MP for Kibwezi Constituency in eastern Kenya had wanted the Speaker censured for, among other shortcomings, incompetence, partisanship, favouritism and disrespect. He had accused Muturi of making “contemptuous, malicious and unfounded allegations”.
Muturi had been accused of using disrespectful language against Opposition MPs: “The honorable MP with a bald head, with a receding hairline, the one behind there. This is not Kibera. You should not shout across. This is not Kibera and you are not selling fish” and “… Hon. Momanyi; you think you can’t be seen because you are vertically challenged….?”
That the Constitutional Court had declared sections of the Security Laws (Amendment) Bill 2014 introduced in Parliament by the Executive whose passing Muturi had presided over as unconstitutional was taken by the Opposition as a manifestation of the Speaker’s incompetence. Four MPs had been assaulted, two engaged in a fist-fight and the Deputy Speaker had water poured on her before the Bill was pushed through.
This, coming hot on the heels of sexual harassment and corruption within Parliament did little to restore the diminishing respect for Parliament that is now being derisively referred to as the ‘House of Shame’.
Francis Waititu, the Juja MP had just been accused of sacking an secretary for allegedly refusing to give in to his sexual demands. Also reported was Gideon Mwiti, the MP for Imenti central, who was arrested and arraigned in court on charges of having raped a woman who was doing public relations for him.
Joyce Lay, the Women’s Representative for Taita Taveta Constituency, accused Elisha Busienei , the MP for Turbo, of insulting her after she turned down his sex plea during a meeting they had attended with the President of Kenya in Japan.
Parliament’s Public Accounts Committee was first suspended and then disbanded following allegations that some of its members had taken bribes to clear certain public servants of corruption.
But just before these not-so-honourable acts came to the attention of the Kenyan public, it was this very house that had demanded that anyone who did not address its members as ‘Honorable’ would be guilty of an offence that attracted a 12-month jail term and/or a Sh2 Million fine.
The Bill, that was in second reading in April 2014, sought to place MPs above MPs Governors, Supreme Court Judges, former Presidents and Vice-Presidents, Cabinet Secretaries, Principal Secretaries and the Attorney-General. Oh, really? Is ‘respect’ is earned or forced from people?
The National Values of Kenya, according to Chapter Two of the Constitution that came into force in 2010, are Patriotism, National Unity, Sharing and Devolution of Power, Democracy and Participation of the People, Human Dignity, Equity, Social Justice, Inclusiveness and Protection of the Marginalized, Good Governance, Integrity, Transparency and Accountability, and Sustainable Development .
Are Parliamentarians governed by these ‘National Values’? Are Corruption, Sexual Harassment, Intimidation, Abuse of Office and Impunity part of Kenya’s national culture?