Businesses bleed when MPs abuse legislative justice

Monday, May 18th, 2020 00:00 |
Parliament. Photo/File

John Kabucua  

It is curious that for the first time National Assembly’s Public Accounts Committee (PAC) found it necessary to defend itself with an op-ed penned by its vice-chair Jessica Mbalu, MP for Kibwezi, that was published in this newspaper on April 27. 

This was after the committee has had some of its recommendations overturned by courts on grounds of overstepping its mandate and appearing to convert relevant authorities into National Assembly’s puppets.

One of such adverse recommendations involved Sing’oei Murkomen and Sigei Associates regarding transactions related to the 2016 National Youth Service scandal. 

Instead of finding that crimes were committed and allow investigative agencies to do their work, PAC exceeded its limit and recommended in its March 2017 report that the Office of Director of Public Prosecution prefers charges of abetting money laundering against the law firm. 

But this is just one of many cases involving transgressions by the committee.

A 2019 report by the current PAC made staggering recommendations against Idemia, which managed the elections management system in 2017, to have acted in breach of the Companies Act by doing business in the country without being registered. 

Some of its recommendations were that Idemia be probed and blacklisted from doing business in Kenya for 10 years and that the Directorate of Criminal Investigations (DCI) and DPP undertake investigations against Idemia, its officers and local representatives. 

While attempting to cover their shame from unnoticing readers, the committee claimed in its  op-ed that it has endeavoured at all times to discharge its responsibility with utmost diligence and objectivity. 

This is insincere of them and perfunctory considering that both the aforementioned cases were quashed by High Court.

Their op-ed also said the National Assembly adopted the committee’s report on the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) with amendments. 

Interestingly, the motion to amend PAC’s recommendations was moved by MP Peter Kaluma who is not a member of PAC and who, just like many of the lawmakers present, had no background understanding of the subject matter.

In short, the Auditor General compiled a report which the MPs considered and came up with adverse recommendations and tabled before the House; and approved it for implementation.

Since the buck of implementation stops with the mandated agencies, would it not be easier for the Auditor General’s reports to be submitted to the agencies instead of going through Parliament only to be overruled by the Judiciary?

American Nathan Roscoe Pound, in his examples of legislative justice in 1914, concluded that legislative justice exhibits all the bad features of justice without law. That legislative justice is unequal and unstable. 

In the case of Sing’oei Murkomen and Sigei Associates, the court ruled that PAC transgressed into the boundary of the investigative and prosecutorial agencies by trying to influence their independence.

As for Idemia, the court ruled that Parliament had overstepped its mandate and invoked laws that did not exist at the time.

This unfortunate behaviour is typical of the National Assembly and its committees.

According to World Bank’s 2019 annual ratings on ease of doing business, Kenya was ranked 56 among 190 economies.

But while this is purportedly Kenya’s selling point to investors, it contradicts all the tribulations that Parliament has subjected many businesses to. 

Lawmakers are being deliberately counterproductive on the ease of doing business efforts by shaking down investors and  business heads. —The writer is a Political Communication lecturer

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