Why 95pc of MPs will not sit in 2012 Parliament

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NGUNJIRI WAMBUGU

What does the ordinary Kenyans want? "Something productive and profitable to do for work, a comfortable home for the family, a school with good education for the kids, a decent hospital in case we fall ill/have an accident, a friendly cop who is tough on rogues and rascals, really nice food, and a good environment to hang out with friends."
 
That is what I want, and that makes me one of the millions of ordinary Kenyans, and since 1992 we have replaced at least seven out of every 10 Members of Parliament each general election because these MPs did not understand how to deliver what we wanted. However, I am persuaded that in 2012 we will replace as many as nine out of every 10 current MPs, for several reasons.
 
My first reason is the last election in 2007.

Despite the national trauma of the 2007/2008 general election this Parliament has been unable to agree on whether crimes were committed during the 2007/2008 post election violence, and to set aside individual political interests to fully resettle the people displaced during that violence.

Even where it is obvious that crimes were committed, they cannot agree on what to do with perpetrators of this moment of national shame, at whatever level, nor are they able to engage with the PEV victims and provide solutions to the disruptions that occurred in their lives. This confusion has been constant even where solutions have been suggested by civil society, religious leaders and the international community.
 
A suggestion was for cases against those suspected to bear the highest responsibility for the 2007 PEV be tried at The Hague, which Parliament initially supported. However, we watched as the same Parliament closed ranks in December 2010 to vote for Kenya to withdraw from the Rome Statute because the ICC Prosecutor had mentioned three of its MPs as the suspects.

They made this decision despite the fact that those of us who were affected by the death of 1,133 other ordinary killed during this violence, and the suffering of hundreds of thousands who had been sexually assaulted or forcefully ejected from their homes, were still waiting for justice over three years down.

Despite the fact that we still had some of us living in tents in public fields. They then went on and spent Sh70 million in shuttle diplomacy to stop the process while simultaneously holding weekly, highly toxic political rallies to campaign against the ICC.  Finally, 40 of their members flew all the way to the Netherlands to stand in the gallery and cheer on the Ocampo Six as they answered the ICC summons. However, over one million of us stepped out and stopped them dead on their tracks by simply signing a simple two-page petition that said \’YES to ICC, NO to Impunity\’.
 
Then there is our new constitution.

As ordinary Kenyans we know that we have this constitution despite, rather than because, of what a large percentage of this Parliament wanted. Kenyans are aware that most MPs were either in the mainstream \’NO\’ brigade, or in the more devious watermelon team.

We are aware that they whereas in other parts of the world the NO/Watermelon MPs would either have resigned after such a resounding defeat, or taken a spectator position on the implementation of a document they aggressively resisted, in Kenya they will want to be in charge of the process of implementing it, and therefore must be voted out in the next election if we are to make progress.

In the meanwhile we will shore up small gains of this new constitution, like the fact that we are now able to convert covert public appointments into transparent processes. In fact, we are still getting used to the audacity of watching a man wearing an ear stud get all the way to the position of Kenya\’s Chief Justice, despite the politics of the day, because he qualifies and therefore cannot be denied.
 
Finally there is the issue of age. In a TV interview in 2009 a second-term MP was taken to task by young people to explain why he thought that Parliament does not change in character even when we remove so many of its old members every election.

He answered that he had learnt that House affairs, as well as government decisions were determined by a pretty small group, approximately 15pc, of the House.

He explained that this people had either been in power for long, or they had networks with those who had been in power for long. We also learnt that the main strategy of ensuring they retained power over parliament was to determine who the \’new\’ faces in parliament would be, either by funding their campaigns and/or manipulating party nominations appropriately.

This meant that the new faces toed the old line, and/or played second fiddle to this inner circle. This scenario was confirmed when Mutava Musyimi was quoted by media as having said that \’Hii Bunge ina wenyewe\’. However, this now changes with the option of independent candidates, as well as the fact that by 2012 most of these gentlemen (as they all are) will be too old to play this role effectively.
 
So, as an ordinary Kenyan I am persuaded that we will change up to 95pc of this Parliament next year even as it becomes more apparent that most of them learnt nothing from 2007 and will continue to risk taking us into a greater scale of what we lived through as they compete for even more personal power.

My only concern is whether changing the faces will change the character of the Parliament this time, but that is the discussion we will hold next week.

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