Pushed to a corner on why they were not taking a pay cut in these hard economic times, the country’s most overworked workers were at it again last week, complaining that they earn “peanuts”.
The waheshimiwa have been on the spot by a scared public that they are sleeping on the job.
On Tuesday, they responded in kind, showing why they deserved every penny they earn, and even more for the extra responsibilities they take up along the way.
Last week, the National Assembly chamber, designed to fit a mini-rally, could only take a handful.
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The 53 members allowed into the House were spaced out, many losing long-time deskmates in the process.
The unlucky ones who had turned up to rightfully claim their sitting allowance were offered some temporary solace in the various holding rooms. Some got lucky and were let in when those who had made reservations did not show up, amid protests from the latecomers.
A dark cloud of loneliness set in as soon as the house settled down and all the pleasantries had been exchanged. Some members roamed inside the House, apparently craving some company, earning the Speaker’s fury.
The geniuses, however, made good use of the tranquillity, making startling discoveries amid the threat of the coronavirus pandemic.
Suna East MP Junet Mohamed was on a roll, unearthing several facts. The first? Some waheshimiwa had neglected their grandchildren at this critical time.
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“Mr Speaker, one of your guidelines was that anyone above 58 years should not appear in the chamber. I see here (Kipipiri MP Amos) Kimunya, (Endebess MP Robert) Pukose. (Igembe Central MP Kiringo) Kubai retired from the civil service before we were born and he is here,” he said, adding that he was only concerned for their health.
“…even in your guidelines it was said ‘may’ not ‘must’,” Kubai protested. His years of experience had perhaps taught him that grandchildren didn’t provide the best company.
Junet’s second finding was that MPs earn peanuts.
“The corporates must know that this is the time the country needs them most. There is no need of declaring profits of Sh20 billion. All that money was coming from the sweat of Kenyans,” he said.
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To wrap it up, he issued a warning to those intent on dipping their fingers in the Covid-19 Emergency Response Fund.
“If you eat this, you are going to die of Covid. I can guarantee you,” he asserted.
Leader of Minority in the National Assembly John Mbadi had a finding of his own, which he had made during an interview on a local station the previous day.
“Many people don’t understand the workings and operations of Parliament. This House as a plenary only adopts the reports of committees which act as technical teams,” he said, quickly dropping the subject when the applause he had expected was unforthcoming, owing to the fact that Nominated MP Jennifer Shamalla was the first to raise the matter.
While all this was happening, another mheshimiwa, probably bored, toyed around with the strange gadget on his desk to see if it worked.
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“What does this button do?” He must have wondered as he pressed around to see if the screen would light up, ostensibly to watch the challenges that his colleagues who were working from home had posted on social media.
After several attempts, he realised that it was broken and decided that the house needed to be made aware of his discovery.
“Mr Speaker! Point of order!” he called out before he was accorded the chance to air his grievances.
As it turned out, his complaints were valid and the Speaker asked all those whose machines were broken to raise their hand when they needed to speak.
But the smartest of the lot was Turkana Central MP Lodepe Nakara who raised the alarm over lack of uniformity in the facemasks that the waheshimiwa had donned. The different shades, apparently, compromised their quality.
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With all this intelligence, surely our waheshimiwa should get a raise.