In Things Fall Apart, Chinua Achebe narrates the events of the glitzy wedding of Obierika’s son, Maduka. Many instruments were played. And of the many songs, the then-latest song stood out: “If I hold her hand, she says ‘Don’t touch!’ If I hold her foot, she says ‘Don’t touch!’ But when I hold her waist beads, she pretends not to know.”
For a long time, members of the county assembly (MCAs) have behaved unethically in a manner not worthy of “honourable members”. These scenes were eminent with their predecessors—councillors. Unfortunately, it’s as if the forest changed but the monkeys remained the same.
It’s not yet a year after the elections but the violence and misconduct in county assemblies is already rampant. Either MCAs are fighting for positions or armtwisting and manipulating governors for junkets and money. Yet for some of them, even reading a written oath is problematic. They’ve been benchmarking since 2013 but can show nothing for the trips. Only wastage.
The Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission (EACC) has in the past pretended to rein in the rowdy MCAs following several brawls in the assemblies. But with time, EACC’s waist beads have been held and it has technically pretended not to know anything about MCAs’ integrity.
The latest was Kericho County Assembly, which was publicly reprimanded by President William Ruto. But most perturbing is that, instead of being summoned by EACC officers to show cause on integrity issues, they met the Deputy President Rigathi Gachagua for a truce.
That former Deputy Chief Justice Nancy Baraza was pushed to resignation on integrity issues, for pinching a guard’s nose, becomes a mockery of justice. In fact, Ms Baraza is owed an unequivocal apology since the par was set high for her but many people have run away with it.
Over time, MCAs’ conduct as state officers has fallen short of the constitutional glory. While their conduct should, both in private and public, inspire honour and public confidence, occasionally, it’s been demeaning and appalling. This has been emboldened by EACC’s loud silence.
Mr Munoko is an advocate of the High Court of Kenya. [email protected].