NAIROBI, Kenya, Feb 19 – Justice and Constitutional Affairs Minister Martha Karua differed sharply on Tuesday with National Assembly Deputy Speaker Farah Maalim over the performance of Parliament.,
The two were speakers at a forum organised by Kenya Muslim Youth Alliance, where participants questioned the Legislature’s commitment to implement the constitutional review agenda, citing Wednesday’s flopped censure motion against Agriculture Minister William Ruto.
“The tag ‘House of shame’ may be well deserved,” said Ms Karua. “The way we have conducted ourselves as an institution, that is how Kenyans view us and the earlier we know it, then the sooner we shall begin to do something about it.”
The Minister who is also in charge of national cohesion censured MPs for failing to pass laws that would set a framework necessary for achieving the four agenda items under the National Accord.
“When we have come to the test of passing those things that will help us deliver to Kenyans, we have been hesitant and also we have not as an institution stood up when it comes to matters of accountability,” Ms Karua added.
However, Mr Maalim defended Parliament saying it had performed its duty effectively in scrutinising the tasks of the Executive.
“What Parliament does is law-making, representation and keeping the government accountable for its actions,” said the Deputy Speaker.
“This Parliament has asserted itself.”
At the same forum, Kenya National Commission on Human Rights Vice Chairman Hassan Omar Hassan supported Ms Karua’s view as he also accused Parliament of loosing its grip in the fight against graft following the failed censure motion.
He said it was unfortunate that MPs went back to their regional and political affiliations to defend corruption.
Mr Omar suggested that a new legislation should be put in place to compel those implicated in graft to relinquish their positions pending investigations.
On his part, constitutional lawyer P.L.O Lumumba said that President Mwai Kibaki and Prime Minister Raila Odinga had failed to lead the country in the fight against corruption.
He asked the two leaders to accept political responsibility to ensure their Cabinet was free of graft.
“When you deal with the ‘big fish’, the small man paid to throw stones will have been dealt with. They should ask those suspected of corruption to step aside,” he said.