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Scorecard for Members of Parliament as they go into recess

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  • The 13th Parliament has concluded its first session and adjourned for the long Christmas break.
  • The last sitting of the House, this session ended at exactly 8.02pm, with members of the August House sitting for five and a half hours on Thursday afternoon.
  • The House resumes its sittings on February 14, 2023 unless members are called for a special sitting.

The 13th Parliament has concluded its first
session and adjourned for the long Christmas break. The last sitting of the House,
this session ended at exactly 8.02pm, with members of the August House sitting
for five and a half hours on Thursday afternoon. The House resumes its sittings
on February 14, 2023 unless members are called for a special sitting, which is
highly likely next week on Wednesday and Thursday.

I would love to compare the adjournment this
afternoon to an end-of-term affair in schools, where students are examined and
handed a report form to take back to their parents or guardians. Back in the years,
during my school days at Karuri Primary School and Senior Chief Koinange High School,
some truant students would, upon realisation of their dismal performance in the
end-of-term examinations, alter the report forms, ostensibly to give a false
impression to their parents and guardians back home. Those years, technology
was not a big deal, and so falsifying the report forms would often slip
through. I wonder what such students would do today, where report forms and
performance records are sent to parents directly through email or WhatsApp
platforms.

Back to my topic on the 13th Parliament. On August
9th this year, you lined up at the polling stations to elect your lawmakers.
From thousands who were vying for the Parliamentary seats, only 337 made it to
the National Assembly, to represent 290 single member constituencies and 47 as
Woman Representatives or county Members of Parliament. Only 12 made the cut as
nominated members, from the thousands who were in the political parties’
nomination lists. So, essentially, being a member of the 13th Parliament is a
great privilege for the 349 National Assembly occupants and 67 in the Senate.

My question then is, if an election was
called today, would you elect the same person you voted for as Member of Parliament?
If you would, why? And if you would not, why not? Well, it probably would be
too early to pass judgment on the efficacy of our lawmakers. The first session
obviously was used to help the legislators, and particularly the newcomers, an
opportunity to settle, learn the ropes and familiarise themselves with their
three constitutional roles; representation, oversight and legislation.

During the first session of the 13th Parliament,
members vetted and approved for appointment, Cabinet Secretaries, Principal
Secretaries and Inspector General of Police Japhet Koome. Members also passed
the IEBC Act Amendment Bill 2022 to provide a framework of picking the
Selection Panel that will recruit IEBC Chairperson and Commissioners, and
debated a bill seeking to amend the 2010 Constitution, to anchor the
Constituency Development Fund (CDF) in the country’s supreme law. Some tidy
amount of work by members who were sworn in on 8th September.

For a Parliamentary session that last 84
days, one of the highlights in my opinion, was the process of electing Speakers
of the two chambers and their deputies. It was more of a repeat match pitting
Kenya Kwanza against Azimio lawmakers, after the bruising August 9th
presidential contest that required the Supreme Court to rule with finality on
the winner, after Raila Odinga questioned the election of then President-elect
William Ruto. A close observation of the sittings in the National Assembly and
Senate gave some hope for return of robust debates in the two chambers.
Hopefully, it will get better next year. However, like the 12th Parliament, the
13th Parliament runs the risk of being dictated to by the Executive, if my
initial assessment is anything to go by. I would hope for a robust, courageous
13th Parliament that can check on excesses by the Executive and Judiciary,
while insisting on prudent management of public resources, good governance and
rule of law.

While at it, I noticed that National Assembly
Speaker Moses Wetangula’s 84 days in charge of the House brought flair and grit
in proceedings. I also credit him for giving a good number of young Parliamentarians
time to contribute to House debates.

But moving forward, I would challenge the
lawmakers, when they return to the Houses in February next year, to prioritise
legislations that would benefit the ordinary citizenry, open up the country for
business, create opportunities for the youth, especially on matters technology,
lessen red tape and bureaucracy in access to services, robustly play an
oversight role and call out wastage in the national and county governments. All
these, will be possible if lawmakers refuse to be an appendage of the Executive
and hopefully bring back the glory of Parliaments of yesteryears.

For now, look out for your MP. Let him or her
give you their first session report form. And don’t allow them to give you a
falsified report form! Na wasikuenjoy ati wako busy Nairobi attending Parliamentary
business. Bunge is on recess until February 14, 2023!



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