What you need to know:
- Kanu's accusers in and outside Parliament have proved equally tyrannical and ravenous. At least Kanu never pretends about it.
The reason Kenya has had a multi-party Parliament since 1993 is that many individuals who now play a prominent role in that House demanded it. And they shouted why: The ruling party, quoth they, was tyrannical, undemocratic and corrupt.
That's how they lured us into the cruel belief that they were the solution to the voiceless penury to which single-party despotism had reduced us. Ever since then, the opposition has used these same arguments against Kanu to demand that its government be fully answerable to Parliament - for instance, that all Executive actions be ratified by the Legislature.
Only the schooled eye can see the catch in this ancient liberal tenet: the claim that only the Executive - especially when it is Kanu's - can be guilty of venality and high-handedness.
For the fact is now stark. Kanu's accusers in and outside Parliament have proved equally tyrannical and ravenous. At least Kanu never pretends about it. It never makes any noise about good governance and accountability, that kind of hypocrisy.
Thus we have come to expect that Kanu MPs will vote for the massive theft of public property with which our MPs have been ingratiating themselves recently. Isn't it better the thief you know than the thief who comes in through the back door with candy-coated words about being your messiah?
Many thought the hullabaloo we raised when they voted to quintuple their salaries; and perks and to give themselves a pension might shame them into putting at least a semi-colon to their buccaneering. After the recent drought, in which thousands of Kenyans perished as a result of landlessness, joblessness and pennilessness, we thought that individuals who claim to be their christs against just such scourges might feel some qualm about dipping their fingers into their meagre coffers.
Yet, in a mere 30 minutes on Wednesday, the MPs unanimously approved a motion entitling them to a massive housing mortgage from the public kitty. Even the loudest anti-Kanu critics claimed they deserved every penny they have been grabbing.
Knowing that the Press would not shirk its duty of protecting the public from this breach of trust and display of incredible irresponsibility, they launched the most unprovoked attacks on our editors, daring them to write "whatever they like".
Norman Nyagah, a great advocate of 'human rights', was not bothered that his lecherousness was going to abuse the human rights of very many Kenyans. For it would be blatant robbery of the only money they have between them and starvation. Or does Nyagah know of any crueller violation of human rights than denial of food and other life requirements?
If, as Nyagah and Otieno Kajwang' - himself recently struck off the lawyers' register for allegations which, if true, would amount to the most predatory denial of human rights - argued that the MPs were giving themselves only what they deserved, the question remained: By whose judgment?
In the market system, do you know of any establishment where workers decide by themselves what and how much they are to be paid? Do you know of any where even layabouts and I ne'er-do-wells arrange to be paid way above the nation's ability
long after they have left employment - indeed, throughout their
lives? How many of them are even capable of employment?
Yet most of MPs contribute exactly nothing to what should be the main parliamentary business - the scrutiny of public spending as proposed in the yearly budget.
Most issues pass over their heads. They then relapse into the most puerile name-calling and executive-bashing. They have not the slightest understanding even of the most elementary constitutional issue. Yet - merely because there is viscid dough in it - these instruments of positive nescience are not ashamed to demand to impart "civic education"?
Some, led by Musikari Kombo, recently authored a List of Shame of the most corrupt Executive members. Yet, like the lily-livers they are, they were quickly made to delete it permanently from the records.
I wonder where such Marxist Cassandras as Peter I Anyang'-Nyong'o, Mukhisa Kituyi, James Orengo and Wanyiri Kihoro were during the voting. I wonder: Should the 2002 voting I allow them ever to vote again in that House?
This article — first published on November 11, 2001 — is part of the “Fifth Columnist Files” series that republishes Philip Ochieng’s long-running Sunday Nation column.