Misbehaving legislators are teaching their supporters bad manners

The sight of brawling lawmakers is incongruous with MPs’ stately image. [Courtesy]

On December 29, 2021, an honourable member was injured in a fist-fight in Parliament during debate on the controversial Political Parties Amendment Bill.

The MP for Sigowet suffered facial injury after exchanging punches with ODM’s John Mbadi. This happened after a confrontational argument between the two.

Unfortunately, this behaviour is a true reflection of who we are as Kenyans. We elect our favourite leaders and as such, what they do or say is a replica of us or what happens elsewhere in our country. 

When we see our sacred Parliament descend into chaos, it is certainly a sign that Kenyans chose the wrong people to lead them. The sight of brawling lawmakers is incongruous with MPs’ stately image.

It downgrades and reduces their persona as ‘honourable’ and is a bad lesson to young adults aspiring to be leaders. Such fights are as a result of intolerance to the rule of reason. It is often said that choices have consequences. That now is manifested in open daylight and in front of cameras.

On the other hand, we learn from Kenyan history that ethnic conflicts have been hatched and nurtured in Parliament, meaning that what goes on in Parliament trickles down to the grassroots.

When an MP uses abusive words against another of different ethnicity, it becomes a community issue or an ‘onslaught against our people’.

Ethnic tags

In other words, parliamentarians are inciters and ethnic brigades because when they fail to reason, they try to seek legitimacy from their ethnic groups.

In Kenya, we still use ethnic tags to identify ourselves. We are our ethnicity before we are Kenyans. Our leaders represent not only our interests in Parliament but also our ethnicity. That’s is why when most of them are cornered with corruption they fall back into the sanctums of ethnicity.

To be sure, last week’s fight in Parliament has shocked many people including cartoonists, political scientists, comedians as well as religious leaders.

It has been said that those represented by two lawmakers have stood with them. Most have interpreted the fight as being an onslaught against their community. If I may use popular political euphemism, then this legislative violence has trickled down to the people. 

What lessons are these lawmakers passing the rural people? They pass a strong code to Kenyans that staging a pandemonium in Parliament is acceptable behaviour. Now that MPs are our role models, then the likelihoods that rural folks would follow suit is very high. Fighting in Parliament therefore tends to ignite ethnic tensions in rural areas.

Politicians, once thought to be problem solvers and respecters of the rule of law and reason are fanning ethnic tensions inside and outside Parliament.

We gave them the great responsibility of making decisions on our behalf, but they keep on reminding us that they are still capable of engaging in childish behaviour.

As we approach the general election, MPs should be very careful on their actions and utterances because the possibility of their ill manners trickling down to the people is very high.

Dr Chacha teaches at Laikipia University