THE RECENT DEVELOPMENTS over the dismissal of four judges of the Court of Appeal, and the decision of the Minister of Finance to offer blandishments to Members of Parliament in exchange for their support of the Finance Bill, bring into stark relief the effect that Chapter Six of the Constitution will have on the next general elections. When Kenyans ratified the Constitution in 2010, one of the requirements was the departure of the Chief Justice and the Attorney-General and the vetting of judges and magistrates to weed out those unfit for duty. Chapter Six demands that the men and women who serve in the public service must meet specific integrity and leadership requirements. The dismissal of the four judges, and the expected dismissal of more judges and magistrates, should be a call to arms for the men and women vying for elective positions and those that will apply for positions in the national and county governments.
WHEN THE HIGH COURT failed to give a definitive determination on when the general elections could be held, and the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission decided to schedule the elections for 2013, they gave the political class ample time to either make a determined effort to do things the right way or to continue on the path that has led to so much trouble and strife for the peoples of Kenya. The antics of the Minister for Finance emphasise as nothing else will that the Tenth Parliament continues along its path of holding the peoples of Kenya at ransom unless their demands are met.
The Tenth, and the Ninth, Parliament have consistently refused to place the needs of the peoples of Kenya ahead of their own. When the Ninth Parliament raised the pay and allowances of its members, it did so knowing full well that they were creating an aristocracy divorced from the general population. When the Minister for Finance proposed to do so again in his 2012/2013 Budget Statement, he was not reprimanded by the Members of Parliament; rather they cheered him on secure in the knowledge that the peoples of Kenya would not rise up in opposition. In the midst of a resilient economic onslaught on the working peoples of Kenya, the Members of the Tenth Parliament saw no reason why they should forgo the blandishments of the Minister for Finance, including the award of a substantial increase in their "winding up allowances". All they had to do was to give up their demand for a cap on the interest rates that commercial banks may charge for loans advanced to Kenyans. That the MPs would continue to feed off the public trough while Kenyans would continue to suffer the high cost of credit facilities was lost to them in the heat of their own financial avarice.
IN THEIR INCESSANT campaigns to be re-elected, or elected to new offices, or their support for one of their own to succeed President Kibaki, and despite the insistent warnings of Mutula Kilonzo, Martha Karua and Gitobu Imanyara of the strictures of the Constitution on leadership and integrity, the current MPs continue to refuse to accept that they no longer enjoy a free hand in the manner by which they serve their constituents, or how they conduct the business of the National Assembly. They are confident that the institutions of state will continue to kowtow to them well into their retirements. Not even the Chief Justice's warning that Chapter Six binds them has given them pause; instead, they continue to perpetuate the impression that they are above the law, even beyond it.
IT REMAINS UNCLEAR whether they will see the light as Saul did on his way to Damascus. Today, they are more interested in advancing their political careers than carrying on the business of the peoples of Kenya. They are more interested in protecting the political careers of a few at the expense of the needs of the many. There are thousands of Kenyans who continue to languish in abject poverty not just as a result of the violence that rocked the nation after the 2007 general elections but also because of the economic policies of their elected government. That the Tenth Parliament and our leaders in government continue to concentrate only on what advances their careers should inform to a great extent the challenges to their continued political existence. Many of the decisions they have made over the past five years may have been within the strict letter of the law, but many will argue that they violate the spirit of it.
The standards that have been set by Chapter Six must be met by all who choose public service over careers in the profitable private sector. If they are unable to meet these standards, they are best advised to seek profit elsewhere and to give the peoples of Kenya an opportunity to elect a government that treats them with the respect they deserve. If they are incapable of making the choice, the people of Kenya must make it for them. Justices Omolo, O'Kubasu, Bosire and Nyamu failed to heed this warning and the Judges and Magistrates Vetting Board made it for them. We must do the same when the general elections are held. We owe it to ourselves to do so.