A citizens’ wishlist to incoming members of the 13th Parliament – Business Daily
MPS in session. FILE PHOTO | NMG
The elections have ushered in fresh faces in the 13th Parliament at both the National Assembly and the Senate. A wishlist to them and their colleagues who have been re-elected is important.
First, the biggest issue in the just concluded elections was the economy. Citizens have huge expectations in their government to make life more bearable by dealing with the high cost of living. It is important that legislators take their work around the budget process seriously.
This is the place where taxation measures are spelt, and money allocated to various government projects. We do not want legislators who are not critical of the budget proposals, who fail to link those proposals to promises made on the campaign trail or who cannot recognise the implications on the lives of their constituents.
The second issue is oversight. In the run-up to the elections, many legislators in the 12th Parliament blamed the Executive for the state of the country. When the concerns voiced were apt, they only represented one side of the coin.
As part of their constitutional responsibilities, Members of Parliament once elected have a contractual obligation with the citizenry to ensure that they keep the Executive in check.
They cannot turn around and blame the Executive for their failures to play their constitutional oversight role. This applies to both those in the majority and those in the minority.
Kenya is a multiparty democracy. Every political party has a responsibility to ensure that oversight is undertaken. The scale of success depends on the numbers a party has and the strategies it develops.
The political parties with representation in the legislature must activate their parliamentary groups into active forums for the strategy to support their members deliver on their mandate and ensure that they legislate, represent and exercise oversight effectively.
There is need to avoid grandstanding and scoring cheap political points over their competitors. Instead, it should be a contest over ideas to improve a lot of the Kenyan people.
The bar for this Parliament is very low. Its predecessor, the 12th parliament, scored poorly in its activity. On the other hand, the expectation from the citizenry is both clear and urgent. Therefore, all that is needed is a sense of purpose and a commitment to the Kenyan people.
The Supreme Court has recently declared the Constituency development Fund unconstitutional. While the law, on whose foundation the case was set has since been amended, the principle of separation of powers and the role of legislators in implementation has dogged the fund since its inception.
It will be important to see whether the 13th Parliament will address this issue comprehensively or continue to ignore the complex questions around the fund.
On one instance was introduced at a time when there was a disparity in development across the country due to the government skewed allocation of resources but is currently implemented in a devolved context and against concerns that members of the National Assembly sometimes treat money as a slush fund.
Both the new and reelected members are starting on a clean slate. The quality of our democracy over the next five years will be partly determined by how our representatives in the August houses discharge their duties. I hope they will not let project Kenya down.