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Coronavirus should not give MPs an excuse to extend term

By Editorial | August 24th 2020

Some MPs are reportedly burning the midnight oil plotting how to extend their terms in office by a year.

Should their wishes be granted, it means they — and even the president — would remain in office until 2023. Their argument is simple: Covid-19 has muddied the waters and more time is needed to put their houses in order.

But if it were possible to tinker with the time, some Kenyans would want 2022 to come tomorrow so that they can get rid of some of these legislators.

Yes, Kenyans are increasingly growing tired of politicians who are clearly out touch with reality. For weeks now, for instance, senators have held the country to ransom debating the contentious revenue sharing formula with no end in sight. This has occasioned immense suffering across the country which is yet to move the men and women in suits.

Rampant theft in counties and at the national government, including of Covid-19 funds, has added to the never-ending cases of grand corruption that President Uhuru Kenyatta has since his election been vowing to vanquish.

Our MPs’ appetite for money, including approving huge pensions for themselves and those who served before them, has been criticised by the electorate. And it is no wonder that the new push to prolong their stay in the august House is meant to ensure that they reap more from the taxpayer.

Our Constitution is crystal clear; Parliament can only extend its term by a maximum of a year, but only in the event of a war. Yet the guise that MPs would wish to use as the reason, ‘the war against Covid-19’, is not a war as envisaged in the Constitution, according to constitutional experts.

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Lawmakers should, therefore, not use the contagion as an excuse. Neither should they use the BBI. If it is about the BBI, its architects, President Kenyatta and ODM leader Raila Odinga, are best-placed to talk about it. MPs must not speak on their behalf.

The president has said categorically that he doesn’t want his term extended. And despite Covid-19, Kenyatta has said he is determined to fulfill his pledges. MPs must borrow a leaf from him and strive to fulfill their promises now, and not later.

If anything, they are lucky that they still have a job. Many Kenyans are out of work due to the Covid-19. For them, 2020 is a lost year. MPs should make hay while the sun shines. And bank not on borrowed time.

Covid 19 Time Series


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