Our low standards of leadership are breeding a disdainful crop of leaders

Truth be told, when it comes to electing good leaders, Kenyans have always performed dismally. The August house has never missed a good number of convicts, cons, launderers, suspects and generally people who cannot finish reading a clause in Chapter 6 of Kenya’s constitution without it upsetting them (obviously, this is not to say that we don’t have good people there). Good people, without sounding like we are gaslighting Kenyans, many are the times that the conclusion is that Kenyans are the authors of their country’s bad governance. 

To put this whole issue into perspective, in the past weeks, a particular leader who has never given his maiden speech arrogantly boasted that he never attends Parliament and relegated Parliament to a tea taking restaurant and a house of gossip. Isn’t this the peak of disdain to the electorate and arrogance of power? Where would an elected leader get the guts to address citizens in this manner without any fear of not being re-elected? Why would an elected leader show disregard of the August house and rank it this low despite being an elected leader? The answers to these questions lie in who we elect as our leaders and how we elect these leaders. 

The “who” is an obvious answer since we mostly elect the worst amongst us, those who lie best and even bribe to get our votes. No wonder when they get to power, they disregard and treat citizens with utmost contempt. As justification for failure to attend Parliamentary sittings, the said Member of Parliament noted that he is “busy looking for money”. Do we elect Members of Parliament to go looking for money or to represent us? 

Reading through Kenyans opinions on the said remarks, it was disheartening to see some Kenyans qualifying the rogue sentiments and even saying that that particular MP has “delivered on the ground”. For most members, like him, who show disdain and contempt for parliamentary attendance and contributions, their fall back is an impressive constituency record.  A review of the Auditor General’s report on the NGCDF spend of this particular constituency would however show otherwise. The Auditor General has over the years consistently given a qualified opinion on his constituency’s book of accounts, the same audit queries recurring over the years. The auditor raises issues such as unsatisfactory implementation of the projects, unsupported payments, delays in implementation of projects, bypassing procurement procedures among others. Good people, if this particular MP was busy on the ground, then managing a meager NGCDF would not be a problem. Is that so? Ultimately, the role of an MP is to represent, legislate and oversight on behalf of the constituents who have delegated power to them.

Kenyans hand out culture and worship of money and the rich, immediately turns them blind to such gross misdemeanors and stoop low to the extent of normalizing political arrogance and contempt directed towards them by the political class . In a decent and morally upright society such a Member of Parliament would never come close to any leadership position. This same person has publicly acknowledged that his academic credentials are questionable and went ahead to belittle his colleagues who attend sittings and represent their people by debating policies and legislations. 

Frankly, electing such a leader is equivalent to rubbishing democratic values and saying yes to the chaos of anarchy. With people who have no respect for the electorate and democratic institutions, how will future generations value leadership and the burden of servanthood that accompanies it? 

As a country, we need to rethink the concept of leadership and our values as Kenyan people. Does crude arrogance, insecurity and lack of wisdom represent us as a people?  think not, we are a better people and we deserve better, servant leadership and the humility that comes with foresightedness. The unfit, like the MP who is the subject of this piece will only contribute to apathy and mistrust and devalue parliament. 

Additionally, Parliamentary leadership needs to rise to the occasion and hold accountable those who violate Article 103 (b) of the Constitution that states “the office of a member of Parliament becomes vacant if, during any session of Parliament a member is absent from eight sittings of the relevant House without permission, in writing, from the Speaker and is unable to offer a satisfactory explanation for the absence to the relevant committee”.

Dear Kenyans, we elect Members of Parliament to go to Parliament - that is their office. Since, that is the only place where they can legislate, that is the only place where they can project our voices and turn them into policies and that is the only place where they can call out the executive. Parliament is a hallowed place and only honorable people should have access to it, there is no doubt we should raise our leadership and integrity standards as a country. 

Posted by Loise Mwakamba on May 31, 2024

Categories:  parliament   integrity   roles of an MP   leadership



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