Thursday, May 16, 2013

Tell it to the pigs!

Muslim Members of Parliament were offended at being compared to pigs. They've obviously never heard of "imagery", "irony" or "metaphors." They accused the protesters outside Parliament on the fourteenth of blasphemy. Blasphemy is the act of insulting or showing contempt or lack of reverence for a religious deity or the irreverence towards religious or holy persons or things. Could they please inform Kenyans which among them is a religious deity or a religious relic. These men and women are now taking hyperbole in their demand for higher salaries to extreme ends.

Some principles need to be laid down in this fight. First, even a rudimentary understanding of contract law provides a clue as to the wrongness of the argument by parliamentarians. Ordinarily, a contract for a term of years expires when the term ends. If parliamentarians intend to argue that the Tenth Parliament had a "contract of employment with the people of Kenya" and that the terms of the contract included their salaries, remunerations and retirement benefits, then the contract was between the people of Kenya, the members of the Tenth Parliament, and it came to an end when Parliament stood dissolved for the general election. Between the date of the dissolution and the election of the members of the Eleventh Parliament, the institution of Parliament may have existed, but the parliamentarians did not. Now the terms of the contract did not bind the institution of Parliament, as claimed by Mithika Linturi, but parliamentarians. Indeed, members of the Tenth Parliament may only claim their terminal and retirement benefits, because those survive the termination of the "contract of employment", but not the salaries and remunerations they enjoyed during the life of the Tenth Parliament.

Second, Parliament derives its independence from the people of Kenya. While it is a creature of the Constitution, the Constitution is the expression of the collective will of the people. In the same light, the Salaries and Remuneration Commission is a creation of the Constitution and it exists because the people of Kenya wish it so. Parliament may have the power to make law; but this power is not sui generis; it is delegated to Parliamentarians by the people of Kenya. Therefore, parliamentarians cannot claim a) that the people cannot demand lower salaries and remunerations for parliamentarians; b) that the Salaries and Remuneration Commission overstepped its mandate by using a "legal notice to amend an Act of Parliament;" or that c) the Constitution has been grossly violated by setting the salaries and remunerations of parliamentarians lower than in the Tenth Parliament.

Back when Kenyans were sheep ready for the slaughter, the President could do as he pleased; Parliament merely rubber-stamped decisions that had been made and enforced. In a later iteration of the abuse of State power, Parliament acquired a few powers and used it for the aggrandizement of MPs at the expense of ordinary Kenyans. In the evolving relationship between the State and the people, State organs, especially the President and Parliament, operated in a twilight zone where common decency, the rule of law or the will of the people were absolutely absent; the people were specks of shit on the State's shoe to be flicked off in contempt.

Third, if it is true that parliamentarians have a contract of employment with the people of Kenya, the people, in all their naive wisdom, have placed the responsibility of determining the salaries and remunerations of parliamentarians on the shoulders of the Salaries and Remuneration Commission. Also, if the parliamentarians wish to increase their salaries and remunerations, they can only make this demand after they have worked for it; no employer in his right mind will give an employee a pay-rise without some form of performance appraisal. Performance appraisal may only take place after performance. It will be positive if the performance generates benefits for the employer. So far, Parliament has not been beneficial: in Busia, Bungoma, Garissa, Mandera, Moyale, Tana River and Trans Nzoia the people are being murdered while Parliament turns a blind eye. On this ground alone, Parliament cannot demand a fatter pay-cheque until the people in these areas can live in peace and security.

Finally, Members of Parliament, including those professing the Muslim faith, may be "religious" in that they wear their religion on their sleeves, take time to perform all the rites and rituals required to remain "right with God", and, at least outwardly, are the milk of human kindness. But the past two months has reminded Kenyans that parliamentarians continue to live in a world of their own where reason and logic, truth and justice, morality and civic-mindedness are alien concepts. Many parliamentarians represent constituencies that languish in abject poverty, where youth unemployment and crime rise in tandem. Instead of attempting to find ways to ameliorate the suffering of the people, parliamentarians have perfected the art of the handout, hence their enormous "expenses" every month. What MPs should have done all along was to harry the Executive to ensure that facilities required for the improvement of conditions of living are provided. This is what representation is all about. If they cannot do it, perhaps it is time we seriously reconsidered the qualifications for a person to be an elected representative. If we are going to end up with the likes of Tiyah Galgalo, Bare Shill, Mithika Linturi or Richard Onyonka, then perhaps we are better off with teh return of Daniel Toroitich arap Moi and his inimitable style.

No comments: