Shame:200 Kenyan MPs without a Motion or Bill to their name
NAIROBI: The spotlight has turned on at least 200 MPs who have neither filed a Bill nor a Motion in the august House for a full year, yet many of them were elected to do just that — make laws and represent their people in Parliament.
The Standard On Sunday has reviewed parliamentary records which show that even though the majority of MPs participate in debates, only 99 had made an attempt to file Bills in the House. Of these, just 15 lawmakers had managed to get Bills published with their name on it.
Still, only 50 MPs filed Motions in the House for debate on issues of concern to their people and to the country. The 200 MPs whose names are missing in the records of lawmakers who filed serious business in the House raises questions on whether it is prudent to have a House of 349 members where the majority are passengers riding on the backs of just 150 of their colleagues to do the thinking and the heavy-lifting.
It costs the Kenyan taxpayer Sh21 million a year to keep an MP in the House, according to the Institute of Economic Affairs. That colossal amount takes care of the sitting allowance, salary, medical insurance, mileage re-imbursement and domestic and foreign travel. If the taxpayer, who also happens to be the employer of the MPs, was to ask for returns on their investment, only 150 of them will have something to show that they spent public money prudently.
“That’s wasted money for us. The country has invested heavily in the Legislature. It is not enough for them to give us the rhetoric outside the House, they should do what matters in the House…no wonder the issues that matter are not being given due attention,” said Jessica Musila, the Executive Director of Mzalendo, a watchdog of MPs’ performance.
In an interview with The Standard On Sunday on the performance of the MPs this year, Speaker Justin Muturi said the National Assembly had done “quite
“By and large on the legislative front, I think the House has done very well. Looking at the latest edition of the Bills, especially those to do with implementing the Constitution, it is an indication of the House that is working very well,” said Muturi.
The Speaker’s overall assessment on the output is based on the fact that Majority Leader Aden Duale, his deputy Naomi Shaaban and committee chairpersons Mutava Musyimi (Mbeere South), Benjamin Langat (Ainamoi), Samuel Chepkonga (Ainabkoi), Amina Abdalla (nominated) and Soipan Tuya (Narok) have done the bulk of the work to make sure Bills are passed and House resolutions implemented.
But he noted that the committees are still lazy in processing petitions that are brought into the House on various issues. “Petitions have remained in committees for far too long, but we have put mechanisms to ensure every committee is kept on its toes through the regular Wednesday afternoon reports apprising the House about pending business,” said Muturi. All government Bills come in Duale’s name and he has to personally be in the House to push them through. He is by far the most hardworking legislator, driving the agenda of the ruling Jubilee coalition, balancing party politics and pursuing his personal interests on behalf of his people with an eye on the next elections. He steered through the Bills to implement the Constitution, the bulk which have now been assented to.
Asked what he thinks about the 15 private members who have filed Bills, he was a worried man. “It is worrying. Can you imagine?” the Majority Leader told The Standard on Sunday.
The curious thing is that while the government has brought 55 Bills through Duale and the Jubilee-led House committees, the Opposition has brought none. Individual MPs hassled through the rigid bureaucracy and emerged with 15 Bills.
The members who have Bills to their name are David Ochieng (Ugenya), Peter Kaluma (Homa Bay Town), Emmanuel Wangwe (Navakholo), Chris Wamalwa (Kiminini), Cecilia Ng’etich (Bomet), Johnson Sakaja (nominated), Irungu Kang’ata (Kiharu), Agostinho Neto (Ndhiwa), Priscilla Nyokabi (Nyeri), Stephen Mule (Matungulu), Nicholas Gumbo (Rarieda), Adan Keynan (Eldas), Boniface Otsiula (Bumula), Jude Njomo (Kiambu) and Silas Tiren (Moiben)
The scrapping of exam fees for primary and secondary students, taming of high interest rates, cheap loans for university students, creating a national employment bureau, and creating a welfare club for retired MPs are some of the proposals in the 15 Bills that were filed by individual lawmakers.
Minority Leader Francis Nyenze (Kitui West) leads the Opposition agenda in the House. He has neither a Bill nor a Motion to his name.
When The Standard On Sunday asked him why the situation is so, he complained that the “tyranny of numbers” had conspired to block all the Opposition Bills through the legislative red-tape, more so, prior to the publication of the Bills, or before Motions are allowed into the House.
“The tyranny of numbers has really affected us. But I want to assure you that my members are working very hard… so many of their Bills are stuck here,” said Nyenze in an interview.
In the schedule of legislative proposals (the draft Bills before publication), CORD MPs have individually sponsored 76 proposals, of which only seven got published. Jubilee lawmakers have individually sponsored 100 proposals, only eight of which have been published. Independent lawmaker Patrick Musimba
(Kibwezi West) has filed two proposals for Bills, but these have not been published
“These legislative proposals are mainly by individual members and will result into what is commonly referred to as “private member” Bills upon publication,” explained Muturi.
CORD’s Ababu Namwamba (Budalang’i), Isaac Mwaura (nominated), John K’obado (Uriri), Ms Joyce Lay (Taveta), John Mbadi (Suba), Millie Odhiambo (Mbita), Abdulswamad Sharrif (Mvita), Neto and Kaluma are some of those with pending legislative proposals. Namwamba has 10 proposals stuck in the pipeline.
Opiyo Wandayi (Ugunja), one of the vocal MPs who contributes to Bills and Motions, has neither a Bill nor a Motion to his name. Asked why that was so, he too blamed the bureaucracy for killing his legislative dream.
“We have tried. We have brought things here but they are killed because we are told they are money Bills and therefore we don’t get the permission of the Budget and Appropriations Committee,” he said.