By Mourice Seretta
The Annual Parliamentary Scorecard for the 3rd Session of the 12th Parliament has been released by Mzalendo Trust, a Parliamentary Monitoring Organization (PMO).
According to the report, the legislative output of Parliament was low compared to other sessions while the number of Members of Parliament (MPs) who made no contributions was on the rise, with a record number of 21 making no contribution in 2019.
The organization has further raised concerns about MPs who have consistently failed to make contribution at the plenary. These include Hon. Oscar Sudi (Kapseret) and Hon. Samuel Arama (Nakuru Town West) who have made zero contributions since 2017.
A total of 22 members did not utter a single word during the entire session. Of the 21, 19 were from the National Assembly with two being from the Senate. In the National Assembly, men dominated the list with 16 out of the 19 identified as having uttered not a word. They are Abdi Tepo (Isiolo South), Abdi Shurie (Balambala), Ahmed Gaal (Tarbaj), Johnson Naicca (Mumias West), Amin Deddy (Laikipia East) Geofrey Kingagi (Mbeere South), James Gakuya (Embakasi North), George Aladwa (Makadara), John Owino (Awendo), Oscar Sudi (Kapseret), Stanley Muthama (Lamu West), Gideon Konchella (Kilgoris), Justus Kizito (Shinyalu), Samuel Arama (Nakuru Town West), Alfred Sambu (Webuye East) and James Mukwe (Kabuchai). Rose Museo (Makueni), Beatrice Kones (Bomet East) and Amina Gedow (Mandera) were the silent women in the House.
According to Mzalendo Trust Executive Director, Caroline Gaita, “The role of an MP encompasses the three aspects of legislation, oversight and representation. While we recognize that the latter can take place in Committees and Constituencies respectively, it is imperative to note that legislative development primarily takes place in the House. To completely abdicate this responsibility is therefore a dishonor to those who elected them and brings disrepute to the integrity of Parliament as an institution and a violation of Articles 94, 95 and 96 of the Constitution”, she added.
The best performing MPs at the National Assembly were Millie Odhiambo (Suba North), David Sankok (Nominated), Wilberforce Ojiambo (Funyula), Robert Pukose (Endebess) and Benson Makali (Kitui Central). The leading lights at the Senate were Ledama Ole Kina (Narok), Moses Wetangula (Bungoma), Aaron Cheruiyot (Kericho), Ochilo Ayako (Migori) and Getrude Musuruve (Nominated). Millie Odhiambo, Jacqueline Oduol (Nominated), Jennifer Shamala (Nominated), Ruweida Obo (Lamu) and Sophia Noor (Ijara) were the top-performing women in the National Assembly.
The Scorecard, released annually, is aimed at enhancing transparency and accountability and is based on members’ contributions in Plenary as captured in the Hansard. “Every so often, we get queries from the Members about the performance of their MPs” says Caroline. The Scorecard is therefore a way of enforcing the social contract between the MPs and the electorate, as they exercise delegated authority on behalf of the citizens.
Overall, the report shows that the aggregate performance of the 12th Parliament’s 3rd Session, measured against previous sessions was the lowest. Of the 116 Bills passed in the National Assembly only 24 were assented to, translating to about 21%, the lowest in five years. The Senate passed a total of 34 Bills out of which only 4 were assented to, translating to only 12%. “Coupled with the diminished role of the Opposition as a result of the Handshake and party co-operation across the political divide, the need to safeguard the independence and performance of Parliament cannot be gainsaid” says Caroline, noting that oversight is especially important in ensuring accountability from all government agencies.
An analysis by counties shows the top 5 performing counties (aggregated contributions of MPs from each County) to be Homa Bay, Trans Nzoia, Kericho, West Pokot and Bungoma in that order. Conversely, the bottom five counties are Garissa, Tana River, Turkana, Kwale and Narok.
In terms of committee work, the National Assembly had a total of 1211 committee sittings in 2019, while the Senate had approximately 505 sittings. The report raises concern that public access to committees still remains a challenge, particularly in the National Assembly, wherein 2019, a whopping 55.2% of the sittings were not open to the public. This is in contrast to the Senate where approximately 72% of the sittings were open to the public.
Going forward and cognizant of the challenges brought about by Covid-19, Mzalendo Trust calls upon Parliament to enhance technological uptake in order to ensure public participation and equitable representation of the people as enshrined in the Constitution is not compromised.