Proposals to disband Senate are ill-advised, strengthen it instead

The Senate sitting to discuss the Gen Z protest was a moment to pick out the sly politicians who would jump into any trendy thing to further their political agenda.

All of a sudden, we saw people who have remained tight-lipped on the plight of the people speak as though they had just landed from heaven. Growing up, we had a saying to the effect that pretenders are worse than murderers. Did it have to take the storming of Parliament and setting part of it on fire for our representatives to get the courage to speak about the rot amongst themselves and in our governance institutions?

The clarion call for the next general elections must be, “Bring back honour to the August House’’.  We cannot have people in Parliament who only speak when it’s convenient and popular.

The saving grace is that the moment also demonstrated that we still have, like in the time of Prophet Elijah, remnants who have not bowed to the Baal of double-speak. These are the elected representatives who have spoken their truth everyday even when it’s not convenient to do so.

I was particularly impressed by Senator Chrystal Asige. The nominated ODM member, despite losing her sight to glaucoma in her 20s, has demonstrated to the nation, and indeed the world, that she is one of the most focused leaders in this country. She speaks with the clarity of a philosopher king and the charisma of a victorious war general.

When the President was engaging young people on X, a lot of young leaders picked their reprimands for indiscretion, ranging from lack of judgment in what they say to mindless display of lavish lifestyles in the midst of suffering of so many Kenyans. I was waiting to hear someone point out that in spite of the purported decline in the 13th Parliament, we still have some pretty dignified members who have remained true to the calling and to the people.

Every time Asige takes to the floor of the Senate, she has confirmed that she is absolutely the Rolls Royce of the Senate. But she didn’t have to get to the floor of the House to discover that her voice is an effective tool of transformative change. She served as Amnesty International Kenya's board member among other tours of duty before her party sent her to the floor of the Senate.

VIP, as she self calls herself, meaning visually impaired person, is a powerful reminder that young people can ascend to positions of responsibility and conduct themselves with grace and elegance. This reminds me of another wonderful senator Richard Onyonka. The son of the late Zachary Onyonka has done what proper men must do; make their fathers proud. In life or in death. As a senator, he has had a chance to show the country what President Kibaki saw in him when he was deployed as an Assistant Minister at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs as a first term MP.

To all the elected representatives that I might not mention here who are constantly on the side of the people, please know that we watch you and see your tireless dedication for a better Kenya. This brings me to the suggestions I saw flying on social media in the past one week that we should disband Senate. How short is their memory? The Constitution of Kenya Review Commission report compiled at the end of 2005 says Kenyans wanted a bicameral Parliament whose members satisfy moral and ethical standards for election.

That we do not have a strong Senate was a betrayal by MPs who went to Naivasha in 2009 and allocated to National Assembly functions that are ordinarily discharged by the Senate. This betrayal 15 year later, cannot make us throw out the baby with the bathwater. I recommend that if the debate about constitutional review is re-opened, we strengthen the Senate and make it more fit for purpose.

Mr Kidi is the Convenor of the Inter-Parties Youth Forum. [email protected]