The new constitution was about strong institutions, not strong men
By S O
President Uhuru, finally, has broken his silence over the recent scolding of Kenya’s opposition leaders by US President Barack Obama.
As usual, in country powered by media trivialization of issues; the scolding of the opposition became the biggest takeaway from Obama visit.
Jubilee regime politicians hanged on it for the better part of last week. As we approach the weekend; President Uhuru has again revisited the issue, claiming the opposition was washing the country’s dirty linen in public.
Returning to Obama’s gaffe -I call it a gaffe because Obama appeared frustratingly ignorant about many things happening in Kenya today – serves to divert attention on the massive corruption and loss of billions exposed by the Auditor General.
President Uhuru is yet to comment on the revelations by the Auditor General. However, other leaders on his side have shown indifference, if not outright annoyance, with the office and its current holder, Edward Ouko.
At legislative level; he rejected several amendments which the opposition had put in the Public Audit Bill (2015) to strengthen the office of the Auditor General. Parliament, where his majority coalition party tyrannises, ended up not only purging the Auditor General’s office of the needed functional independence but also acutely reduced its budgetary allocation.
To destroy the functional independence of the office; Jubilee alliance, through House Majority Leader Aden Duale, moved an amendment to give public service commission and cabinet secretary in charge of treasury power to second staff to the office of the AG.
The AG can no longer hire,fire or transfer. At the same time, PSC and treasury can recall their staff seconded to the AG’s office anytime, however critical the stage of audit is. This tactic worked before. When the national land commission tussled with lands ministry over land adjudication in the country, the then ‘hard-working’ CS Charity Ngilu recalled all the 70 staff the lands ministry had seconded to NLC.
It crippled the commission. In future, land conflicts will likely be settled by machetes and arrows again.
There used to be two powerful offices which checked on corruption and malfeasance inside government. The Efficiency Monitoring Unit and the Inspectorate of State Corporation used to send chills in the whole government.
These two were the first to be destroyed. Many other Agenda Four institutions have either been destroyed or weakened, or morphed into regime appendages.
One of the frustrations opposition MPs who want to genuinely check the government have had with this current parliament is that however much bipartisanship goes into coming up with a Bill, the ‘supra-parliament’ at State House eventually determines what becomes law and what doesn’t.
The frequency with which state house rejects bills sent to it for assent has made some MPs no longer bother to make laws.
I speak a lot with Suna East MP Junet Mohamed and whenever I ask him why he nowadays no longer participates in parliamentary debates as actively and passionately as he used to do, he tells me why waste precious time in parliament contributing to debates when some people outside parliament have already decided on what becomes law and what doesn’t.
The MP, like many of his steadfast colleagues, have resorted to paying more work at committee level and back in the constituencies.
According to Hon. Junet, executive stranglehold of parliament will only be cured when the opposition becomes the majority party with the numbers to overturn a presidential veto.
The tactic now is; once the President has rejected a Bill, Jubilee MPs boycott sessions leaving the opposition with insignificant numbers to overturn such a veto.
The same happens when adopting reports. Jubilee MPs can gang up to shoot down any report which indicts the regime, or its top leaders. That’s how they recently shot down the ”Hustler Jet” report.
How, then, can the opposition work with a government whose main obsession is to protect itself by destroying independent institutions?
The new constitution was about strong institutions, not strong men.