As leaders underperform, citizens must step in

Wednesday, May 15th, 2024 06:50 | By
National Assembly
National Assembly in session. PHOTO/@NAssemblyKE/X

The conduct of Kenya’s National Assembly in the last three weeks has left a lot to be desired. One wishes that we had no House to refer to as the Legislature. Kenya is currently facing many problems, from economic and social to cultural and cohesion. However, the biggest problem the country has is its lawmakers who come under the grand brand name of Parliament.

Parliament is a combination of shame and disaster all wrapped up into one. On August 9, 2022, Kenyans elected a new set of leaders to  steer the affairs of the country for five years. They were optimistic the new leaders would usher in a fresh change. They were mistaken!

Incumbent MPs are a great disappointment. Whereas elections are important in the political calendar of any democratic country, and citizens participate with absolute determination and resolve, Kenya’s situation is retrogressive indeed. The Legislature keeps churning out a crop of ne’er-do-wells each half decade. The outcome of the presidential election was contested in the Supreme Court, which affirmed the results announced by the electoral agency IEBC. As required in every democracy, the verdict of the highest court in the land settled that matter once and for all.

That issue is long over and the leaders elected in 2022 have the constitutional responsibility to determine Kenya’s destiny in the next five years. Consequently, it is now time all the leaders who were given the mandate to drive the development agenda forward to get serious, settle down and work. 

Our political elite is taking too long to realise this simple fact. The poor state of the economy cannot allow either leaders in government or the opposition to sleep at the switch. Which they are. Both the government and the opposition have to keep their eyes on the ball if we are to avert a litany of catastrophes. Unfortunately, they are not!

The opposition appears confused and unprepared to execute its constitutional mandate to keep the Kenya Kwanza administration of President William Ruto in check. That callous, if not lackadaisical, attitude, too, will cost Kenya a lot. It is time the opposition woke up to the realities of the day and start fulfilling its legally stipulated mandate. 

The National Assembly’s decision to exonerate the Agriculture Cabinet Secretary Mithika Linturi from blame in the impure fertiliser scandal that has gripped the country since February is a great shame. The fact that Ruto himself, as the appointing authority, has found nothing untoward in Linturi’s conduct as the minister in charge is very discouraging. That is akin to promoting impunity.

The fertiliser scam came on the heels of three improprieties of international import. First was the importation and sale of sugar contaminated with mercury. Then came the Sh17 billion oil import scandal and later the multi-million-shilling edible oil saga. 

In all these, too much noise was made but no action taken, to the detriment of the taxpayer. That does not bode well for Kenya. We have an administration that appears to be embracing economic malpractices with zeal and an opposition that is happy to promote the same with gusto.

It all boils down to citizens. They must safeguard integrity, transparency, democracy, peace, unity and stability at all times. This we must do by confronting our challenges collectively without invoking ethnic or partisan reasons in a bid to solve them.

Every Kenyan leader—political, religious, professional or otherwise—has a cardinal calling to advance the unity, peace and stability of the nation because the Parliament that we entrusted with this mandate has failed horribly. We must hold our political leaders to account.

The author is the Revise Editor, People Daily — [email protected]

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