A report released on Wednesday by researchers Mzalendo Trust revealed glaring misalignment between the priorities of Parliament and the expectations of the public.
The scorecard on lawmakers analysed their contribution and activities in the National Assembly and response to crucial matters during debate in the plenary.
According to the report, the most active members of the National Assembly include Dr Makali Mulu (Kitui Central), Beatrice Elachi (Dagoretti North), James Nyikal (Seme), Ken Chonga (Kilifi South) and Geoffrey Kiringa Ruku (Mbeere North). The MPs were recognised for active engagement in discussions on various issues, such as food security, environmental conservation, and drought.
On the other hand, the report revealed that 15 members of the National Assembly did not contribute to the floor of the House during the assessed period. Some of these members had also been highlighted in previous scorecards of the 12th Parliament for not making any contributions. Notable among these inactive members were Oscar Sudi (Kapseret), George Aladwa (Makadara), and Samuel Arama (Nakuru).
Others who haven't contributed on the floor of the House in the last 10 months include Ernest Ogesi (Vihiga), Fred Kapondi (Mt. Elgon), Charles Gimose (Hamisi), Feisal Bader (Msambweni), Innocent Momanyi(Bobasi), Joseph Iraya Wainaina(Nominated) and Elizabeth Kailemia (Meru).
Members who are yet to speak on the floor of the house almost a year since their swearing-in include Ronald Karauri (Kasarani), Mohamed Soud (Mvita), Paul Chebor (Rongai), Ernest Kagesi (Vihiga), Joseph Iraya (nominated), Teresia Wanjiru (nominated), Elizabeth Kailemia (Meru Woman Rep) and Muthoni Marubu (Lamu Woman Rep).
In the Senate, the top contributors were Samson Cherargei (Nandi), Eddy Oketch (Migori), John Kinyua (Laikipia), and Mohamed Faki (Mombasa). These senators were active in raising issues related to historical land injustices, mental health promotion, and inclusive education for learners with disabilities.
Unlike the National Assembly, the data indicated that all Senators managed to contribute to plenary debates during the assessed period.
The data also reveals that ODM MPs led in participation in both houses at 42.3 per cent followed by UDA at 36.10 per cent, Jubilee (7.10 per cent) and Wiper (5.40 per cent). The parliamentary engagement of various counties has been captured by the data, offering insights into their activity levels.
Nandi county emerges as the most active county with a significant 7.8 per cent participation rate in Parliament. Nairobi follows closely at 6 per cent, while Kisumu, Laikipia, and Bungoma exhibit commendable participation rates of 4.8 per cent and 3.9 per cent respectively. On the other hand, the report identifies counties with low level of parliamentary involvement. Tana River and Tharaka Nithi share the lowest spot with a mere 0.30 per cent participation rate, while Vihiga, Nyandarua, Samburu, and Garissa only slightly surpass this figure with rates of 0.5 per cent, 0.6 per cent, 0.7 per cent, and 0.7 per cent respectively.
The report also compares parliamentary actions with the nation's needs, evaluates members' participation, voting patterns, and public engagement, and identifies the most and least active members and counties. Kenyans expected the 13th Parliament, to address crucial issues like high living costs, youth unemployment, and economic empowerment.
Yet, a review of the past year's performance reveals a different scenario. The report underscores instances where parliamentary decisions diverged from public sentiment. For instance, despite public outcry over the high cost of living, National Assembly members did not heed public calls to reject certain punitive clauses in the Finance Bill, 2023.
The voting process was marred by political manoeuvring and partisan stances that hindered unbiased debate. Similarly, the Senate rejected the Division of Revenue Bill 2023, which had proposed a supplementary allocation of Sh22 billion to counties. A closer examination of the passed Bills revealed a pronounced focus on recurrent public finance legislation, aligning with the Executive's priorities.
Mzalendo Trust Executive Director Caroline Gaita said: "A disparity exists between citizens’ expectations and Parliament's actions. While citizens invested significantly in public participation, the outcomes have not been adequately mirrored in the legislative initiatives." Data from the report reflects the varying levels of participation and engagement among MPs and senators from September 8, 2022, to June 30.
On average, an MP spoke ten times while 187 (68.14 per cent of) members of the National Assembly spoke less than 10 times in almost 10 months. On average a senator spoke 41 times. Only one Senator spoke less than 10 times with a majority making a contribution in plenary 50 times or more.
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Glance Box -National Assembly members averaged speaking 10 times; 68.14% of members spoke less than 10 times.