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Does your MP know this

By Steve Umeme | February 10th 2017
It is now an open secret that one of my friends and very knowledgeable youth, Mr. Kennedy Opio, has been approached by several people to run in Likuyani Constituency as Member of Parliament in 2017.

I took particular interest in his quest for various reasons; First, he is a great guy as a professional. I just didn't know how he was planning to articulate this with the murky politics that is characteristic of Kenya.

Crossed fingers!Secondly, being an MP in Likuyani meant he was to directly represent my people... including myself and my baby mama along with my kids, parents and all people around me! That's quite a responsibility.

 Thirdly, with the devolved government structures, I got curious to know if this ninja understood what would be expected of him! What his roles were! Would he look out of place in the role or can my people count on him?

You see, politics is not about growing a pot belly and driving gas guzzlers! It’s not about your access to public coffers for personal benefits! It’s more of a calling. Sio hii pere pere ya ooh nitawaletea barabara, ooh CDF mara ooh bursary!

In particular, I was looking out for those old lines! I must say how he discussed the roles of an MP and specifically how he intended to pursue this left me satisfied. In his own words;"...I have become conscious of the roles and responsibilities of a Member of Parliament (MP). An MP has three main responsibilities.
 First, and the most critically important function of a Member of Parliament, is REPRESENTATION. This responsibility is derived from the first chapter of Kenya’s constitution, which gives the sovereign power of the Kenyan State to the Kenyan people. The second clause explains how the people can exercise this power; either directly or indirectly!

 Directly means all 40 million plus Kenyans meet and agree whenever we need to make policy or pass laws. Indirectly means we elect a small group to represent the rest of us, and bequeath to them the responsibility of making decisions for the rest of us.

 Indirectly is the practical way to do things, which is why we elect the President, MPs, Senators, Governors, women reps and MCAs.

An MP is therefore in office primarily to represent the constituency from which he or she was elected. I must emphasize something here; the MP represents the constituency that elected him or her, in its entirety; NOT the individual voters from that constituency who voted for him; Just the same way a President once elected is President of all Kenyans not just the people who elected him.

This is an important clarification because there are some MPs who go to the National Assembly to represent the voters who elected them and deliberately isolate voters who supported their rivals and justify it on the basis that they did not vote for them.

It is also important because representation means an MP is required to seek their constituency’s views on an issue before taking a public position on it.

Secondly; an MP is required to LEGISLATE; make laws. ‘Parliament’ actually means a representative body having supreme legislative powers within a State.

This means parliamentarians are representatives of the people meeting to debate and pass laws for the people. In fact, the reason MPs have immunity to say anything about anyone while in the precincts of Parliament is so that they are not limited on what they can discuss or pass laws on.

We look up to MPs to make laws that represent the values of the Kenyan people.Finally, an MP is responsible for OVERSIGHT OF GOVERNMENT OPERATIONS. As per the constitution MPs as representatives of the people are mandated to question anyone delivering services to Kenyans.

They have a responsibility of ensuring that the President; His Executive; the Government Officials and Public Servants, Security Agencies, etc are working only as per how the people want them to work; and to ensure whatever policies and administration decisions are made serve the people’s interests, above all else.

They, therefore, have the power to summon literally anyone and stop anything that goes against the people’s wishes.These are the only three responsibilities given to our MPs by the constitution.

Other public responsibilities are given to people holding different offices. The development mandate MPs are laying claim on is a function of County Governments. Most of the current 290 MPs understand this.

 I am convinced they know CDF is now irrelevant under the new constitution after devolution kicked in. However, they want to continue having a public fund they can do local politics with.

They also want to continue cheating local voters that their (re)election should be based on how many roads they have built; how many bursaries they have given out; how many buildings they have put up, etc.

Well, now we all know what is NOT their job! Their job and what we must judge them on in 2017 is:

 (i) How effectively his or her constituency’s views affected national issues and decisions;

 (ii) How closely national laws passed in parliament aligned to the values and principles of the constituency they represented; and

 (iii) How effectively they audited and oversaw government operations especially as regards how they affected their constituency. Period!

Meanwhile, if I was an MP today I would start thinking about how to introduce and institutionalize a fund that is in line with my mandate; maybe one that supports MPs to hold regular constituency-wide barazas to collect views on national issues before I take a position on it in Parliament. It would make more sense.

But I am not an MP … yet.So all I will do is demand that Kenyans recall any MP who seeks to return CDF to Parliament so that the constituency they represent can elect an MP who actually understands what their responsibility and mandate as an MP is."

As this guy picked up his mug of coffee to take a sip, I breathed with relief and hope! A hope for my generation and the next generation! It’s time to elect leaders who are focused and committed.

Leaders who have the best interest of their people at heart! It doesn't matter what party Ken will use to seduce his way to the August House, he has my vote, my bae's vote, my mama's and our shamba boy's vote. Am determined to help harvest votes from all quarters for him! You go muheshimiwa. Umeiva!
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