Kenyan MPs fly out to learn catering-#WhatWouldMagufuliDo
Members of the National Assembly’s catering committee have visited Asia, Europe and Africa to learn from other countries.
Mr Elijah Lagat, the vice chairman of the National Assembly’s Catering and Health Club Committee said his team had been to India, Ethiopia and the Netherlands on “benchmarking tours”.
The committee, which manages the members’ restaurant and health club, was briefing the House in a session marked by hearty laughter.
Members expressed concern about the quality of food and the services offered at the health club located at the basement of Continental House.
“I’ll not talk about the trips,” said Mr Lagat, the MP for Chesumei.
The presentation of the report gave Majority Leader Aden Duale an opportunity to complain about the quality of food at the restaurant and the services offered at the club, for which MPs pay Sh2,000 each month to use.
“If you go to the Senate, it is like the Intercontinental. In ours, the cupcakes and the mandazi look like they were cooked a long time ago,” he said.
The machines at the health club are old and the massage rooms and toilets are in a bad state, he added.
Mr Duale said from his analysis, MPs are in an “Animal Farm” situation, where some are considered “more equal” than others and treated better. He proposed that the services be outsourced.
He lamented the deterioration of services at the restaurant, saying in the past, when there were only 222 MPs in the House, things were better. There are currently 349 MPs.
A restaurant was supposed to be in the new wing of Parliament but it has not been opened yet. Deputy Minority Leader Jakoyo Midiwo, also a member of the committee, said “the food is very enjoyable. The services too.”
He said MPs had made the situation at the restaurant bad because they had broken the rule limiting the number of visitors to two per MP and were instead bringing hordes of constituents for lunch.
Mr Midiwo said MPs are in a situation similar to boarding school students, who scramble to get to the Dining Hall early to get the top layer of soup because it has the fat and the best bits of meat.
“We cannot have 400 members eating with their visitors every day. When members are in here deliberating, others are there eating the top layer with their constituents,” he said.
He said some employees of the restaurant have been casual workers for a long time and asked the Parliamentary Service Commission to give them permanent jobs.
With a smile, Speaker Justin Muturi asked the committee to table in the House reports from these benchmarking tours for their colleagues to read.
“The cooks should also be going for the trips so that they can learn how to do the job better. Even if you go, you will only go to eat,” he said.
Mr Muturi said the Parliamentary Service Commission, which he heads, will come up with a solution to the issues raised.
A recent study estimated that 18 million Kenyans live in extreme poverty and may not afford a square meal a day.