Why Parliament, Executive are strange bedfellows
It is never a dull moment in Kenya. Even as Kenyans are overwhelmed by the effects of the coronavirus pandemic, it seems not to bother our politicians, who have seemingly decided we can walk and chew gum at the same time.
From the pronouncements by a senior leader that Parliament is dead to the infighting in Jubilee and politics grabbing (no pun intended) space of our newspapers’ front pages, all indications are that we are back to default setting—high-octane politics.
I mean, if we have to talk about politics at this time then it better be serious discourse that illuminates the political dispensation with honest brutality.
A lot has been said about separation of power and how the 2010 Constitution has given Parliament autonomy from the Executive.
That is an indisputable fact. But our political culture gives the relationship between the two a nuanced colouration.
You see, when a top leader in the Senate says Parliament is dead, he is fairly right because dead or alive is a question of either public interest or selfish interests.
When the Jubilee Party was campaigning ahead of the 2017 General Election, it was pursuing two things: the presidency and to have majority members in both the Senate and National Assembly. They got both.
This nuanced colouration means the high numbers in Parliament ought to be providing a legislative framework to anchor the implementation of the Jubilee manifesto and the Big Four Agenda.
While they may do it purely for party interests, the MPs owe it Kenyans to fast-track development blueprints that their party promised.
Therefore, it is incumbent upon the very MPs and senators who went round asking us to vote for Jubilee to facilitate the realisation of the ruling party’s manifesto, the Big Four and the President’s quest to unite Kenyans and rid the country of graft.
It is a no-brainer that achieving this requires an inclusive and consultative approach between the Jubilee leadership in the Executive and Parliament. President Uhuru Kenyatta seems to have led from the front by reaching out to Opposition chief Raila Odinga.
That seems to have changed the colourations of the Jubilee formation and perhaps informs why misplaced pronouncements of death of Parliament holds some convenient truth depending on where you sit or stand.
The august House is dead to those who are not supportive of the President agenda because it frustrates their political ambitions.
As Kenyans what we need to situate broadly is whether the President’s agenda and the support he gets from Parliament is addressing our interests.
There are two things that legislators can do to pursue the interests of Kenyans as they are mandated to.
One, perform their oversight role with diligence and expose any action or lack, thereof, by the Executive that has not worked in the interest of the public.
They can start with the fight against corruption and explain to Kenyans what is not right in fighting a vice that has been endemic, especially now that in the history of our country a serious commitment to end the vice has seen top leaders arraigned in court and charged.
In fact, money recovered from economic crimes has now come in as a critical resource in the fight against Covid -19.
Second, those claiming that Parliament is dead should present the groundbreaking bills they have come up with that have been crushed by the Executive in Parliament.
The public today is a lot more informed and such a presentation by these MPs would help their cause, especially if these bills are pro-citizenry. —The writer is a PhD candidate in political communication