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Citizen Weekly

Monday, 23 March 2015

KENYA PARLIAMENT OF SHAME



Kenya: The record of bad manners in the current Parliament continues to pile up as MPs continue to break the provisions of Chapter Six of the Constitution that demands integrity and dignity of all State officials and those in leadership. To date, at least 20 MPs in the Senate and in the National Assembly have been accused of being involved in scandalous issues ranging from corruption, bribery, brawls and alleged rape incidents. Some MPs have been caught hurling insults and even assaulting police officers while others have been implicated in sexual harassment of colleagues and parliamentary staff. It is an old story that the sewers at Continental House, which houses the offices of MPs, have previously been blocked by used condoms. What is new is that this time round, it is female MPs who are accusing their male colleagues of soliciting for sex, not just within the precincts of the House, but even while on a presidential trip in a foreign country. The situation is so bad in the National Assembly that two MPs – Richard Onyonka (Kitutu Chache South) and Joseph Lekuton (Laisamis) – pleaded with their colleagues who were involved in a spat over sex in a Japan hotel not to shred the dignity of the august House any further. “Members please, handle each other with the dignity we deserve. Parliament is already injured; let us not take it to ICU (intensive care unit),” Onyonka and Lekuton wrote in the WhatsApp Group of the National Assembly’s Committee on Defence and Foreign Relations. See also: Families seek foreign medical students who travelled to Syria That reference to a tattered reputation pointed to corruption allegations that have rocked the House to the extent that the most important watchdog committee – the Public Accounts Committee – has been suspended and is now being investigated over claims of extortion and bribery. As if that was not enough, Gideon Mwiti Irea (Imenti Central) is staring at arrest and prosecution after a woman reported him to the police alleging rape at his private office in Westlands, Nairobi. The country will remember the sensational nude pictures of a married MP that filled the blogs in the country in the nascent years of the current Parliament. It was a confirmation of the rumoured affair between a senator and the married lawmaker. The leaked pictures, coming in the first year of the Eleventh Parliament, were quickly dismissed as one of those naughty moments gone wrong. Then came a report of a senator and an MP fighting in the bar at Parliament Buildings over a female lawmaker. That too was hushed up as fast as it came to light. But the zeal with which a first-term MP from the Rift Valley pursued, harassed and eventually insulted Mrs Joyce Lay, the woman representative for Taita Taveta County, after his sex plea was turned down during a presidential trip to Japan speaks volumes of the moral degradation within the hallowed institution of democracy.
That even some MPs tried to tell Mrs Lay to keep quiet and have the matter handled behind closed-door of the committee raises questions about how many unreported cases have been hushed up. A first-term vocal male MP who spoke to The Standard for this story, and who sought anonymity for fear of backlash from his male colleagues, said the House “is becoming like Sodom and Gomorrah”. “I have heard rumours that some of my colleagues chase women MPs in the corridors, but I didn’t know it was this bad. Now I don’t know how we are going to deal with this matter, because this is a total breach of morals, ethics ...” said the MP. The other reported case of assault on a woman MP happened on December 18, 2014, in the chaotic debate on the security bill. That day, Millie Mabona (Mbita) claimed Moses Kuria (Gatundu South) assaulted her as Elijah Lagat (Emgwen) tried to pull down her pants. “Moses Kuria punched Millie... Elijah Lagat who, during the process, attempted to pull down Millie’s pants,” said James Nyikal as he reported the issue to the Speaker. Mrs Mabona nursed a sore neck, a swollen head and pain following the assault by the two lawmakers from the ruling Jubilee coalition. Of course everyone remembers how Gladys Wanga (Homa Bay) showered the Deputy Speaker Joyce Laboso with water while she was moderating debate; and Silverse Anami (Shinyalu) when he picked a huge volume from the table in the House and hurled it at Speaker Justin Muturi, as he too tried to moderate debate that chaotic day. See also: Families seek foreign medical students who travelled to Syria Still, on that day, Bahati MP Ngunjiri Kimani bit off a finger of Simba Arati (Dagoretti North). Ngunjiri is the MP who assaulted police inspector Maria Mutheu in Nakuru in August 2013. Besides, Oscar Sudi (Kapseret) also had a taste of the brutish nature of police officers, after his tongue-lashing with a traffic officer on the Eldoret-Nakuru highway went south. The MP was insulting the officer, who then got mad and beat him up. That was in November 2014. At the turn of 2015, Alfred Keter (Nandi Hills) and Sunjeev Birdi (nominated) were caught on camera hurling insults and intimidating police officers and weighbridge staff. They wanted a detained lorry whose axle load was beyond the recommended limit released. The Committee on Privileges is still grappling with a case in which Major (rtd) John Waluke (Sirisia) and Arthur Odera (Teso North) exchanged blows in the House. According to Odera’s testimony, Waluke interrupted a conversation he (Odera) was having with Nicholas Gumbo (Rarieda) and Dalmas Otieno (Rongo) and then began abusing him. But Waluke says Odera had broken an agreement, and he was simply ensuring compliance. What Kenyans can take to the bank is, more is on the way.