Do you hear the people sing?
Singing a song of angry men?
It is the music of a people
Who will not be slaves again!
When the beating of your heart
Echoes the beating of the drums
There is a life about to start
When tomorrow comes!

I watched Les Miserables last month. Yes, I know. I am always the last person to find out how good some things are.  Some of the scenes in the movie reminded me a lot of the Hunchback of Notre Dame, the Disney-fied version and reawakened my feelings of wanderlust. I  got myself an abridged version of the classic by Victor Hugo since tracking down the complete one seems to be a bit challenging.  I have not been able to get  “Do you hear the people sing?”  out of my head!!! I keep humming this stanza over and over and over.    I presume that its because I feel that it reflects the current Kenyan mood.

Kenyan MPs are making the headlines for the all the wrong reasons. I thought that with this new dispensation they would have a change of heart and …mind. I guess that is what we get for recycling some of the old  MPs into the new house.

Photo credit

Poor Ms Serem and the rest of the committee members have not only been branded as incompetent but also their jobs are on the line since the MPs want the Salaries and Remuneration Commission disbanded. I am glad that they are not taking this sitting down. In the Business Daily dated 14.05.2013, she defends her commission’s stance on the  MPs’ salaries.  Mrs Serem says that they did their homework by comparing the salaries from different economies including the US, UK, South Africa and the rest of the East African Community and with reports from various sources search as KIPPRA, they noted Kenya  has the  highest purchasing power parity (PPP) and widest income disparity out the surveyed countries.

In her words:

This level of pay to just 1.6 per cent of total population is not only huge but also stands in the way of the government to implement its development agenda..

In light of this drama, I am glad that Kenyans are finally speaking out about their discontent.  As a nation, I think that we have been through a lot in the past decade: Change from the KANU regime in 2002, 2007/8 post-election election violence, promulgation of a new constitution and now a ‘digital’ government. Judging by the opinion polls that /are being aired on our  TV stations and social media, Kenyans are more aware of their rights and are will to speak out. This time around, we will not take it lightly.    There will even be an Occupy Parliament today!.

Recently, I was moved by a story that was aired by NTV contrasting the life of an ordinary mwananchi who lives hand to mouth yet MPs are not content with the Kes 5 million that will each receive from SRC to buy  new cars, not forgetting the numerous allowances….

Kenyan MPs need to wake up and smell the coffee. Kenyan people are more educated about their rights than before. I have to thank the civil society and media houses for playing a huge role in civic education. Asking for a pay raise and yet you can’t even decide on the members of various house committees is just not in order.  They should also consider that their roles in the 11th Parliament are quite different. They had more responsibilities before since they were in-charge of constituency development funds (CDFs), sat in different house committees, in addition to being law makers and some cabinet ministers. This time round with the separation and devolution of powers, the As leaders, you are supposed to be exhibit exemplary leadership by focusing on our national development agenda.

The  Global Parliamentary Report 2012 highlighted the growing trend of signing a code of conduct. Maybe it’s something that our MPs can look into.  I  liked this part of the Belizean Constitution:

Legislators should not act in such a way as:

  • To compromise the fair exercise of their public or official duties
  • To demean their office or position
  • To allow their integrity to be called into question
  • To endanger or diminish respect for, or confidence in, the integrity of the government

Pretty neat, huh? Well, everything always looks on paper.  I hope that the MPs and the county representatives can recall all the promises that they made to their voters.

5 years is not a long time.



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