How handshake turned Uhuru past critics to cheerleaders
SEE ALSO :Renewables top 90pc of Kenya’s powerMPs even ignored expert advice from the Parliamentary Budget Office which advised against the raising of the country’s debt ceiling, according to minutes of the committee on Delegated Legislation that considered the Treasury proposal. PBO, an independent think-tank of economic experts that advises MPs, warned that raising the ceiling would undermine the country’s budget credibility. “Currently, the country has surpassed some of the debt sustainability thresholds. This implies that the country is not generating enough revenue to cover the debt service requirements. The risk is the country will continue to borrow to repay the existing debts and not for development expenditure,” PBO said. Last Wednesday’s events in Parliament mirrored the approval of the 8 percent fuel levy in September 2018. As Kenyans protested, Opposition MPs joined hands with the government to push through the changes contained in the Finance Bill, 2018. This saw a rise in cost of fuel products and consequently a hike in the prices of basic commodities. The curse of the handshake has replicated itself in House oversight committees which no longer churn out hard hitting reports.
SEE ALSO :It pays to put cash in empowering peopleNo whistle-blowing In August Parliament rejected a report prepared by a joint committee on sugar suspected to have been toxic or unfit for human consumption as it was not fully processed on the grounds that the team ignored its terms of reference. The vote on the report that had indicted two Cabinet Secretaries was rocked by bribery claims that saw the Privileges Committee question 10 MPs, who alleged that their colleagues were bribed to reject the report. There are also concerns that Opposition MPs no longer blow the whistle on national crises such as loss of jobs and plunder of public resources by state officers. By tradition, the House Public Accounts Committee (PAC) and the Public Investments Committee (PIC) are chaired by Opposition members. Yesterday, Kimilili MP Didmus Barasa said the handshake has compromised the oversight role of Parliament and turned it into a conveyor belt where the executive calls shots. Barasa, claimed that various parliamentary watchdog committees chaired by the opposition MPs have gone slow on Cabinet Secretaries and Principal Secretaries on misappropriation of taxpayers’ money. “They are now covering themselves with the same blanket and have stopped holding state officers to accountable. I am a member of a ruling party but we need the minority to use the watchdog committees to expose rot in the government,” says Barasa. “This handshake has reduced the value of Parliament because both the National Assembly Majority Leader and the Minority Leader are now singing the same tune on the floor of the House,” he adds. Minority Leader John Mbadi disagrees, saying the handshake has made discussions on national issues more objective and inclusive. Mbadi says he has developed a productive working relationship with the Leader of Majority, Aden Duale, giving room for minority views to be heard. “We started when we (opposition MPs) did not recognize that Parliament was properly constituted. At the moment, a lot of discussions happen between us. The leader of majority calls me and I call him and we compare notes. There are cases where we have quietly disagreed, but we have found a way to work it out. Our relationship is very friendly in terms of work,” Mbadi says. “The voice of minority is being heard. We can make recommendations that can be taken into consideration. In the past, only executive views were discussed,” he observes. Nominated MP and face of Kieleweke wing of Jubilee party Maina Kamanda says the handshake has opened doors for Opposition figures to push their agenda. “Even those in Tanga Tanga, at the bottom of their heart know that the handshake has brought peace in the country. Unlike in the past even those in the opposition can access ministers and various government departments. Only one person is fighting the handshake,” says Kamanda, in a thinly-veiled reference to Deputy President William Ruto.
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