MPs are not paid to yawn, warm seats and clog traffic

Parliament Building

The Parliament Building in Nairobi.

Photo credit: Sila Kiplagat | Nation Media Group

What you need to know:

  • It wasn’t clear why MPs would exercise their legal right to remain silent when not under arrest.
  • Those interviewed told the media that speaking English has never won anyone a Nobel.

A report came through this week that some 34 MPs haven’t spoken in Parliament since they were elected four years ago. The report found out the MPs in question only exercise their jaw muscles while yawning, and it isn’t because they signed a deal with chewing gum companies to keep their mouths fresher for longer.

It wasn’t clear why MPs would exercise their legal right to remain silent when not under arrest, but those interviewed told the media that speaking English has never won anyone a Nobel, and even if it did Kenyans don’t consider the Nobel Peace Prize while electing their MPs.

They are right about the Nobel, but are wrong on the English. The cardinal role of MPs is to pick citizen grievances and amplify them on the floor of the House. Kenyans are yet to be told of any MP living in the streets while on duty in Nairobi. Our taxes have bought them feather-soft accommodation facilities, because we want them to wake up without bedbugs demanding lunch money in place of their blood.

We are aware English came via the sea, and the only reason the fishes never saw it fit to learn it as a foreign language is that they already had a group called a school where they were learning how to swim to evade predators, and in the case of whales swallow those who drag their feet when sent to spread the gospel of Christ.

Debates in Parliament are critical for decision-making. A wise man once said that it is better to keep quiet and be thought a fool than to open your mouth and remove all doubt. We are aware silence is golden, but voters elected MPs to speak in Parliament, not to argue with them on why keeping quiet is the new vocal.

Disservice to the country

We’re living in unprecedented times. Our debt ceiling is blowing through the roof, Kenyans can’t afford basic necessities of life, parents are struggling to pay school fees, and Kenya Revenue Authority (KRA) keeps sending us emails every hour. We need MPs who can sit in the chamber and tell KRA one email notification is enough reminder, and if they want to keep ringing the notification bell they should go back to high school and be elected bell ringers.

It is not acceptable for an MP to appear in Parliament for four years but fail to contribute to any debate. You don’t need a degree to know the sitting allowance Kenyans are paying you through the nose isn’t for sitting alone but it’s also for talking. Failing to do so is an act of cowardice, a betrayal of the voter and a disservice to the country.

Time has arrived for voters to take stock of what their MPs do and use the ballot to throw out joyriders. We are aware the weather in Nairobi currently mirrors that in the North Pole and the seats in Parliament might have been begging for warmth, but those warming Parliament seats will not be excused on compassionate grounds for there is someone being paid to operate the air conditioner inside the chambers and we haven’t heard them asking MPs for help.

MPs must account for every tax money that goes into making their life comfortable. Kenyans expect nothing less from some of the most overpaid state officers in the world. There is no reason you should come to Nairobi if all you’ll be doing is admiring tall buildings while hiding from your constituents.

Those who want to shut their mouths in Parliament but remain vocal in funerals should be notified that if we wanted experts on speaking at funerals we would have asked the post of MPs to be limited to mortuary attendants, coffin sellers and professional mourners.

As far as we know, Nairobi isn’t a gazetted hiding hole. Instead of living large in the city and causing traffic snarl-ups, you should help the Nairobi Metropolitan Services (NMS) in decongesting our city by staying in the village and letting someone else take your place.

Mr Oguda comments on topical issues. [email protected]


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