Friday, 24 May 2013

With leaders like these MPs Kenya does not need enemies

Something sinister is afoot with our “leaders”, and if we are not alert and resist in every way we can, this country will be in big trouble.

Even though we have pretty low expectations of them and their sense of public service given their common view that being elected is analogous to ripping us off, openly and not so openly, with huge remuneration, it is always shocking to see them work so diligently against the words and spirit of our Constitution.

There is the still ongoing attempt to scuttle the Salaries and Remuneration Commission, and oust the Constitution by giving the Parliamentary Service Commission illegal powers to set their earnings.

Then there is their disdain for our rights to peaceful assembly, paying more heed to the supposed abuse of animal rights, when they have never cared a jot for human rights. And they forget that human beings are animals, too, and not a word of sympathy to those brutalised by the police using methods that would make apartheid South Africa proud.

And now they have added in threats to the freedom of the press and of expression, lauding President Yoweri Museveni’s crude, uncouth and illegal efforts to silence the Nation Media Group’s Monitor newspaper and radio stations.

One would think that as Kenyans, they would first and foremost be concerned that a Kenyan listed company was under threat.

The issue at hand is a simple one between Nation Media Group on the one hand, and the Deputy President William Ruto, and PS Bitange Ndemo on the other. The Sunday Nation alleged that William Ruto’s office had committed we taxpayers to paying more than Sh100 million for a year (not counting fuel and other incidentals) so that the Deputy President can travel in style across the world whenever he feels like.

William Ruto and Bitange Ndemo deny this and say the contract is a one-off costing Sh18.5 million for Ruto’s recent trip and less expensive than had he taken a direct Kenya Airways flight to Gabon, Nigeria, Ghana and then found a local airline for the Morocco segment.

Simply put: Who is telling the truth about the contract and cost of Mr Ruto’s recent trip to West Africa?

The Nation has produced papers and analysis that suggests that Kenyans were ripped off on this trip. William Ruto and Bitange Ndemo have denied it, producing different papers (with spelling errors and omissions) and bashed the Nation. But their arithmetical analysis — saying that it is cheaper to rent a plane than travel on commercial flights — suggests that they need to go back to mathematics classes.

But at the heart of all this is the credibility of the Jubilee regime that came to power promising change and a different approach to ruling that would focus on the people.

If hustlers can so quickly and obviously acquire a love for luxury, then what will become of their promises?

There are also the constitutional requirements for probity, respect for taxpayers’ resources, prudence and truthfulness of public officers.

And there is also Section 19 of the Public Officer Ethics Act, which states that “A public officer shall not knowingly give false or misleading information to members of the public or to any other public officer.”

When an issue like this is raised, more mature and sophisticated parliamentarians would want to get to the bottom of the matter, seeking to save public resources and act as checks and balances on the Executive.

Instead, what we have is Aden Duale and Mithika Linturi attacking the messenger and wishing Uganda abuse and brutality tactics on us. We have seen those before when John Michuki went for The Standard, but that was before the new Constitution and is something that is now outlawed.

But even wishing for such methods and restrains against freedoms says a lot about the pair.

It is hard to think of people less deserving of the title “honorable” as Aden Duale and Mithika Linturi. They are hacks, pure and simple, who seem to think that power means sycophancy and doing whatever they want without question. 

They are dangerous to Kenya in many ways and seemingly have no understanding of democracy, human rights, oversight and checks and balances.

But then again, “choices have consequences,” and maybe this is the price we pay for electing people on the basis of party tickets rather than what they stand for.

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