Will our MPs stay true to their oversight role?

On the 9th of August, Kenyans queued at polling stations across the country to vote in their legislators with the hope that their interests will be represented in the Parliament. However, even before they have been sworn in, a good number have already shifted to other camps disregarding party loyalty.

The rush to jump ship underlines the fact that pacts in our political context are more about the possibility of rewards from a ruling government rather than political ideologies that politicians align themselves with while persuading the voters. The shifts witnessed in the last two weeks support the perception that politicians are more interested in using public offices for self-gain.

The Office of the Registrar of Political Parties (ORPP) termed the move by a section of MPs as unconstitutional since the members of parliament-elect have not followed the required legal procedures.

Citizens rely on their representatives for the development and advancement of the unique needs of their constituencies through responsive policies. Shifting camps by MPs leaves the voter feeling betrayed and shortchanged since their choices have been put on the backburner and their participation in the electoral process was in vain.

The cost of living is currently too heavy to bear for citizens and their hope lies mainly on an executive that drives development centered around Wanjiku and an equally effective legislature that diligently budgets and oversights the allocations and their utilization.

MPs play a very critical role in the budget-making process, a function that allows them to assign resources to government organs and institutions to realize the vision they outlined in their promises. A good portion of the electorate expressed their disappointed in the previous Parliament owing to its underperformance. Most Kenyans attributed this to the August House being beholden to the Executive and prioritizing the Executive’s will over the citizens’ pressing needs.

A growing concern among citizens and the civil society is that this political party exodus could have implications that see the 13th Parliament bowing to the Executive’s will over the next five years.

Our democracy as a country in this new term will be largely influenced by our Parliament’s ability to discharge its duty effectively and independently. The new lot of Parliamentarians, therefore, faces the herculean task to instill faith among Kenyans as being committed, answerable and accountable to Kenyans first before any other authority. Article 1 of the Constitutions constantly reminds us that power sits with the citizenry.

A strong and robust opposition will also be required to hold the ruling coalition to account. The previous house operated under unique circumstances where the lines between the ruling party and the opposition became blurry following the famous handshake that took place barely six months into the second term of Uhuru Kenyatta’s presidency. The effect of this was that most government-sponsored Bills, motions and vetting processes were approved with little to no opposition despite some having detrimental implications to the day-to-day lives of Kenyans.

Members of the 13th Parliament are, therefore, being called upon to change the narrative and be guided by the Constitution. Five years is a long time to effect positive and long-term changes for the country. The high turn over witnessed in the recent general elections is proof that Kenyans are paying attention and will not hesitate to remove an underperforming member. So dear MPs, make the most of these five years and deliver to the Kenyans who have placed their faith in you.

Posted by Loise Mwakamba on Aug. 30, 2022

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