Weekly Newsletter - Issue No 169
15 January - 21 January, 2017


Parliament still a dead beat dad; is there hope for better?

In a country where it’s normal for some citizens to miss certain meals; live in shacks unworthy of a pig sty and spend their days worrying about tomorrow, it’s quite safe to apply the metaphor of Parliamentarians as deadbeat dads; unwilling, though capable of meeting their constituent’s needs because of selfishness.

The irony of democratic politics is that poor people withstand harsh weather, stand on meandering lines with no visible end for hours to vote someone who doesn’t live the life they live; some haven’t even spent a day waiting for anything in their life.

It’s as though voters have some kind of Stockholm syndrome. It doesn’t matter how many good men show up for the baby mama, she prefers the deadbeat dad with all his flaws. The working adage here is, better the devil you know. As a result major towns in the country from Nairobi to Mombasa are filthy and getting worse by the day and it’s not for lack of good leaders.

Since the beginning of the year we’ve heard of devastating media reports of fathers and mothers killing their children and themselves. Only this week an 11year-old child took his own life over worries of this world after his father left them.

It’s easy to consider these as isolated cases and wonder how they relate to Members of Parliament but if you think about democracy in its philosophical sense; people purely engage in a general election exercise in the hope that life could change for the better. More importantly that their representatives will find ways if not pass laws to make their lives bearable where it can’t be better.

Sadly, the 12th Parliament like the previous Houses is more concerned with personal gains than their main mandate. They have united to fiercely fight the gazette notice by the Salaries and Remuneration Commission (SRC) to slash their salaries, perks and do away with the car grant. Through the Parliamentary Service Commission (PSC) they have sought the court orders to ignore the SRC pay cuts even if it means misrepresenting the facts in a court of law. It turns out PSC did not divulge crucial information to the High Court after SRC filed a case to discard their case.

Meanwhile the country is sagging under the weight of debt that experts now say each Kenyan has a Kes. 100,000 debt courtesy of these bad loans. Our government refuses to call them bad loans, insisting the Eurobond among others were wisely invested. The move by SRC was going to save the country Kes 8.85 billion annually.

Never mind the decision by SRC to cut these salaries was based on among other things the rising wage bill. But MPs won’t hear any of it. They don’t care that majority of them were elected by people who have never held down any worthwhile job. They don’t care that over 80 per cent of Kenyans earn below Kes. 70, 0000; they feel the slashing of their salaries to Kes. 621,250 is disrespectful and fails to capture their problems. It’s almost laughable, if only it was that trivial.

News of the Week

Senate to Fast Track Deputy Governor Bill

Senate Speaker Kenneth Lusaka promises to prioritize the amendments to the County Governments Act to deal with the legislative gaps that are slowing down proper functioning of the county governments. The debate on the Deputy Governor Bill was ignited after Nairobi Deputy Governor, Polycarp Igathe resigned over what he termed, inability to win the trust of his boss, the Nairobi Governor.

His resignation has also caused another debate on the role of the deputy governor as his colleagues now demand that the law be clear on their functions. Narok Deputy Governor Evelyn Aruasa said that their position was anchored in the Constitution and besides helping governors deliver on their mandate, there was need to define clearly the role of a deputy governor as it is currently vague.


Executive Reigns in on Defiant Legislators

The Executive proved once again that they controlled the Legislature after they showed the four rebel MPs their place. The four MPs elected to various committees were asked to step down in favor of those positioned by the party leadership but refused, choosing instead to go to court, a decision that greatly hurt the party image. The four MPs: Nandi Hills MP Alfred Keter (Labour and Social Welfare), Marakwet MP David Bowen (Environment and Natural Resources), Moiben’s Silas Tiren (Agriculture) and Emgwen MP Alex Kosgey (Trade, Industry and Cooperatives) all chose to stay put defying the top party leadership.

They had argued that committee chairmen are elected by MPs and not appointed from State House. However, they underestimated the will and power the Executive has over Legislature as they found themselves out of office after the committee members of all the four committees gave them a no-confidence vote as directed by President Uhuru Kenyatta.

Edith Nyenze to have an easy win in Kitui West

Wiper Candidate for the Kitui West bi-election, Edith Nyenze is likely to win the polls after NASA affiliate parties indicated they will not be fielding any candidate and will throw their weight behind her. Though their influence in the region is weak, Jubilee Party also indicated their support for the Wiper candidate saying they will not be fielding a candidate either. They were however quick to correct that they were supporting Mrs. Nyenze as a person and not the party-Wiper. She is the wife to the late Francis Nyenze who represented the people of Kitui West until his death.


NASA remains adamant on the Swearing-in plans

Opposition coalition National Super Alliance (NASA) maintains they will conduct the swearing-in of their leaders Raila Odinga and Kalonzo Musyoka. Speaking to Voice of America (VOA) Raila Odinga confirmed the 30th January swearing-in plans are on course and they will go ahead and form a parallel government, complete with a cabinet. He further alluded to running the said government from exile if need be.

The government is not taking that threat lightly and has so far ensured the previously preferred ground for the swearing-in event is no longer available. A public notice by the County Government indicates Uhuru Park has been closed for renovation until further notice. This comes shortly after the Attorney General Githu Muigai moved to the High Court to quash any further establishment of the People’s Assembly. Referring to diplomatic interventions by foreign countries Mr. Odinga told VOA that Kenyans will have to put out the fire themselves and that only then will the diplomats come in.



Quote of the Week

"...for a patient to be murdered in hospital, it means that all the other patients, not just in KNH but in many other public hospitals will now die possibly of heart attack out of fear that they could be murdered."

Quote by former Kakamega Senator Bonny Khalwale when seeking an answer on the circumstances surrounding the death of Mr. Cosmas Mutunga at KNH
  on December 1, 2015

Read the Hansard

Lest we forget

"Why do we put electric fences and razor wires around our homes? It is not for fear of lions and buffalos from Nairobi National Park but for fear of fellow Kenyans. We must do something about extreme inequality in this country if we are to live in harmony."

Sentiments by former Rarieda MP Hon. Nicholas Gumbo when debating the the miscellaneous fees and levies bill on May 14, 2016.

Read the Hansard

Newsmaker this Week

Embakasi East MP, Paul Ongili Owino alias Babu made headlines this week after a dramatic arrest that saw him spend two nights in a police cell. The MP was arrested by Flying Squad detectives outside Parliament Buildings for allegedly assaulting a parking attendant. Babu however, links his arrest to an ongoing case where his opponent in the August 8th polls petitioned to have his win overturned on grounds of violence among others. The Legislator explained that the police were working in cahoots with the petitioner to paint him as violent in the hope that it could influence the ongoing case.

Nonetheless this is not the first time, the first-time lawmaker is being arrested arbitrarily. He has in the past been arrested taken to court, released only to be re-arrested again much to the chagrin of his supporters and the opposition coalition NASA. The release of the Embakasi MP was secured by the Jubilee Senator, Johnson Sakaja among other colleagues. Senator Sakaja’s efforts however were received with mixed reaction considering the perceived bad blood between Jubilee and NASA. Efforts by Babu Owino’s party leader Raila Odinga and Ford Kenya leader Moses Wetangula to secure his release failed to materialize.


Copyright © 2017 All rights reserved.

Mzalendo Trust, Heinrich Boll Foundation,
Prof. Wangari Mathai Road.
P. O. Box 21765 00505 Nairobi, Kenya

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