Third Eye

Uhuru move to veto MPs’ egoistic bill inspires hope

Friday, September 27th, 2019 00:00 |
President Uhuru Kenyatta. Photo/Courtesy

Cornel  Rasanga       

President Uhuru Kenyatta’s recent veto of  a bill in which MPs would have undermined  the mandate of the Salaries and Remuneration Commission (SRC) deserves  a pat  on the  back.

The insatiable appetite for the scarce national resources informed the thought to delink the welfare of parliamentarians and its staff from SRC constitutional mandate. SRC tried in vain to recover the award from the mighty lawmakers. 

The abortive  legislation—Parliamentary Service Bill, 2019—comes  hot on the  heels  of  a defiant  Parliamentary Service Commission (PSC) move to award MPs  backdated Sh250,000  monthly house  rent allowances and  questionable overseas  trip for  90 members. 

Until today, Parliament  has refused to accept the fact that the  review of salaries  and  allowances of  State  officers and  public servants is the mandate of the salaries commission. The more reason that it enlisted  the  services  of colleagues  in the  PSC to draft  the legislation delinking  the  legislative monetary matters  from  SRC.   

The  foregoing observation  compelled the  President  to veto the  self-serving  bill  that promised to  widen  the  looting floodgates  in a  nation choking in  debt, burdened by the  heavy wage bill  and unbearable cost of living.

Behind the veto lurks a hitch, the “holier than thou and larger than life” monster, the PSC. Unlike  other  statutory  commissions, membership of the  PSC is  drawn from among lustful Members of Parliament who are in the  habit  of  introducing  and enacting laws to suit their circumstances. 

The veto could be a temporary measure if not an exercise in futility in an institution where impunity reigns supreme, with PSC doubling as a rubber stamp of lawmakers selfish desires. 

That notwithstanding, Parliament is not above the law that  created  SRC to address the welfare of State officers and public servants  in general. The august House has been abusing its powers by being a master of  blackmail and threats of those who question its  decisions. 

Yet counties have nothing to smile about despite the President’s veto, abandoned  at  the  hour of need by the Senate  and the  Executive after MPs reduced county allocations.  What a paradox in the hands of a symbol of national unity! 

Lawmakers, for  instance,  were  stone  silent  on the  governors  campaign for increased allocation  and enhanced autonomy. Instead, senators have been campaigning to micromanage devolved units in what threatens to sabotage devolution. 

It is  not surprising, therefore, that the  so called  standoff  between the  National Assembly and the  Senate  over the  allocation of funds to  counties was a case of the latter shedding crocodile tears.

Mr President, the counties are asking you to walk the talk now and live by your word. Counties’ survival in this turbulent society largely depends on the goodwill of the executive and not the two Houses that have failed to lived up to their vows. 

The  roles  of State organs, Parliament  and  constitutional offices included, are supposed to be harmonious, complimentary and  the  very least,  acrimonious.  

Events of the recent past paint completely a different picture. That is  a  cause  for  concern  more  so  for the  infant counties who could be staring at a  bleak future with  insensitive leaders  at the  helm. 

The writer is the governor of Siaya county—[email protected]

More on Third Eye