MPs’ skipping of crucial vote shameless betrayal

The government’s proposed housing levy is an emotive issue, which the opposition has denounced as an attempt at forcing an unfair decision down the people’s throat. It has come at a time when most Kenyans are grappling with serious economic woes.

Although housing is a basic need, on this one, even the self-employed Kenyans are unhappy. The people’s representatives are expected to diligently tackle such crucial issues in the National Assembly.

It is, therefore, shocking that a large number of MPs were absent when the matter was put to a vote. Out of the current 348 MPs (one died last year), 149 skipped the vote on the controversial Affordable Housing Bill, 2023, which entails a 1.5 per cent levy deduction from gross income.

The politicians have exposed themselves for giving lip service to a vital issue that directly affects their constituents. Their denunciation of the levy at political rallies and failing to vote is a manifestation of the double-speak of the political class.

The people who elected them to Parliament will be scandalised to hear that some of the MPs, who were not in the House during the vote, were actually within the precincts of Parliament and shamelessly chose not to do the job they were elected for.

All the 50 million Kenyans cannot go to the august House to air their grievances. That is why they have this group of well-remunerated individuals representing them. Their brief, apart from making laws, is to articulate and promote their interests. Shunning such a crucial exercise is, therefore, betrayal of the people who voted them to those honourable positions.

Before the debate and subsequent vote, the issue had sharply divided the House into two distinct groups. However, when the division bell was rung, only 199 members were present. Of these, 141, mostly from the ruling Kenya Kwanza Alliance, voted for the Bill and only 58 members, mostly from the opposition, against it. Of the absent MPs, 83 belong to Kenya Kwanza while 66 are from the opposition.

Failure to take part in such a crucial vote smacks of outright negligence and dereliction of duty—for which the errant MPs must be admonished, especially by the electorate.