The unsettling fact about Kenyan MPs is that a survey by the Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission released in November says Parliament is one of the most corrupt institutions.
The 2010-2011 report submitted to Parliament shows that every three Kenyans view ministers, their assistants, MPs and councillors as among the most corrupt people.
In the wake of the sarcasm in the graffiti painted on buildings in the Central Business District in Nairobi, questions are being asked if the Speaker has the powers to order an investigation into the allegations to restore the integrity of the Legislature.
Imenti Central MP Gitobu Imanyara says the new Constitution empowers the Speaker to investigate the allegations to redeem the credibility of the National Assembly as an august House. Imanyara says the Speaker, who chairs the Parliamentary Committee on Powers and Privileges that disciplines errant MPs, has not lived up to his billing as the titular head of the Legislature.
He concurs, without being specific, with the public rating of the current Parliament as the most corrupt since Independence.
"The Tenth Parliament had an historic opportunity of leading the campaign for the re-birth of a new Kenya. Sadly, it wasted that opportunity by surrendering its mandate to an opportunistic, selfish and corrupt clique of the ill-gotten money merchants out to perpetuate the status quo," Imanyara told The Standard On Sunday in response to questions why the Speaker appears helpless even as the credibility of the institution he heads comes under attack.
Fisheries Minister Jefa Kingi, a lawyer, shares the view. He says the Speaker has the responsibility of upholding credibility of the House.
"It is the mandate of the Speaker to oversee like the Chief Justice. Claims of MPs and other officials being compromised need to be investigated and its authenticity established. Parliament must be beyond reproach," says Kingi, MP for Magarini.
Section 9 of the Powers and Privileges Act gives the Speaker the mandate to investigate MPsâ conduct. In the absence of an Official Leader of the Opposition, Imanyara argues the Speaker can save Parliament from being hijacked by corrupt "money merchants."
He says: "We have abandoned the reform agenda to the Willy Mutunga-led Judiciary and it is now up to Marende to assume his responsibility as the leader of the legislative arm of Government and set up a select committee to conduct public hearings on the allegations made against MPs."