Some 34 MPs never contributed to debate in the National Assembly and Senate last year, a lobby group that reviewed official records of parliamentary proceedings has reported.
Despite earning millions of shillings in salary and allowances, 31 MPs did not speak in the National Assembly while three Senators never spoke in the Senate last year, according to an analysis of the Hansard report by Mzalendo Trust, an organisation that tracks MPs’ performance.
However, MPs have often criticised this assessment arguing the bulk of parliamentary work is done in committees, while last year Covid-19 pandemic disrupted operations of Parliament. Kanu chairman and also Baringo Senator Gideon Moi appeared in two consecutive years as one of the Senators who never spoke in the chamber. Others were Victor Prengei (Nominated) and Phillip Mpaayei (Kajiado).
In a new report which was released by Mzalendo Trust yesterday that focuses on 2020 amid Coronavirus pandemic, 175 MPs made less than 10 contributions in the plenary translating to 50 percent of the House, only 125 MPs spoke between 10-50 times equivalent to 37 per cent and 33 members contributed over 50 times amounting to 9 per cent. The report also indicates that 32 senators made over 50 contributions which is 48 percent while 19 ranged from 10-50 and only four made less than 10 contributions.
Mzalendo Trust, which operates the website www.mzalendo.com, is a parliamentary monitoring organisation that has been releasing a scorecard highlighting the performance of MPs since 2014. Some of the MPs usually do not regularly attend the parliamentary sessions but are very vocal in public events.
For instance, those who have been identified to be very active in the public events but do not contribute on the floor of Parliament are George Aladwa (Makadara), Oscar Sudi (Kapseret) and Sylvanus Osoro (South Mugirango).
Other silent MPs are Ernest Kivai (Vihiga), Alfred Sambu (Webuye East), Imran Okoth (Kibra), George Kariuki (Ndia), Joshua Aduma Owuor (Nyakach), Lokiru Ali Mohamed (Turkana East), Gideon Konchella (Kilgoris), Fred Ouda (Kisumu Central), Richard Onyonka (Kitutu Chache South), Mathias Robi (Kuria West), Marwa Kitayama (Kuria East), Bady Twalib (Jomvu), Abdi Shurie (Mbalambala), Maalim Kulow (Banissa), Patrick Ntwiga (Chuka/Igambang’ombe), Said Haribae (Galole), Charles Gimose (Hamisi) and Maina Kamanda (Nominated). Nine Woman Representatives also never uttered a word on the floor of the House in the same period.
These are Jane Chebaibai (Elgeyo Marakwet), Jane Njiru (Embu), Anab Gure (Garissa), Irene Kasalu (Kitui), Rose Mumo (Makueni), Amina Gedow (Mandera), Asha Mohammed (Mombasa), Lilian Tomitom (West Pokot) and Janet Teyiaa (Kajiado).Out of the 31 MPs, eight did not also make contributions in 2019.
They include MPs of Balambala, Webuye East, Mandera, Makadara, Kilgoris, Kibra, Kapseret and a woman representative of Makueni. However, Mr Okoth came to Parliament late in 2019 after being elected during the November by-election that year following the death of his brother Ken Okoth who was the area MP.
Mr Sudi has been on record saying the electorate do not want leaders who are good at debating on the floor of the National Assembly but those who can deliver on their campaign pledges.
“There are some of my colleagues in the National Assembly who speak a lot of English but when you visit their Constituencies, you find that there are no development projects they have rolled out, electorate want projects which will elevate their lives not debating, therefore this law on degree requirement will not see the light of the day, I promise,” he said recently.
The report ranked Kikuyu MP Kimani Ichung’wa as one of the best performing members in the House alongside Joseph Kirui Limo (Kipkelion East) and Millie Odhiambo Mabona (Suba North). They made 203, 198 and 166 contributions respectively.
David Sankok, Godfrey Osotsi and Dennitah Ghati topped the list of the most active nominated MPs in the National Assembly, with Farhiya Ali Haji, Gertrude Musuruve and Milgo Alice Chepkorir leading nominated Senators. Mzalendo Trust Executive Director Caroline Gaita said Ms Odhiambo and Mr Sankok have demonstrated consistency having also made it to the top in 2019.
“Mirroring the same trend is the number of speech counts. The drop is also evident from the average number of speech counts by top performers. In the National Assembly, the count, which stood at 227 in 2019, dropped significantly to 176 in 2020. In the Senate, it fell from 338 to 313 during the same period,” she said.
Sabina Chege (Murang’a), Gladys Atieno Nyasuna (Homa Bay) and Ruweida Mohammed Obo (Lamu) were named the best performing Women Representatives. Ms Odhiambo, Ms Chege and Ms Wanga also emerged the best women MPs in the National Assembly.
John Paul Mwirigi (Igembe South), Didmus Barasa (Kimilili) and Charles Ngusya Nguria (Mwingi West) are the best performing youthful MPs under male category while Senators Mr Sakaja, Mr Cherargei and Aaron Cheruiyot (Cheruiyot) topped the same category.
In the youthful female category, Ms Chege, Fatuma Gedi Ali (Wajir) and Martha Wangari (Gilgil) emerged the best while nominated Senators Sylvia Mueni Kasanga, Millicent Omanga and Kwamboka Makori were the best in the Senate.
“These challenges, including in performance, are not unique to Kenya but are consistent with the challenges that faced legislatures across the globe as they sought to adjust their sittings, operations and resources to respond to the pandemic,” said Ms Gaita.
Ms Gaita also disclosed that despite the unprecedentedly disrupted environment, Parliament was able to demonstrate what she described as a degree of resilience judging by the number of bills, motions, petitions and statements tabled.
“In the Senate for instance, 16 bills, 9 motions, 30 petitions and 219 statements were tabled, yielding small differences from 2019 figures when 18 bills, 15 motions, 34 petitions and 198 statements were tabled. Similar trend was reflected in the National Assembly, where 22 bills, 6 motions, 52 petitions and 363 statements were tabled in 2020, compared to 22 bills, 19 motions, 70 petitions and 236 statements in 2019,” she revealed.
She added: “Of the statements raised, 34 by the National Assembly and 18 by the Senate were in response to the Covid-19, touching on accountability, usage of funds by ministries and counties, country preparedness, stimulus packages and cushioning programmes, mental health, education, security and safety of children.” The report also indicated that it recognises the official role played by the leaders of Majority and Minority, whips as well as members of the Speaker’s Panel hence they are not rated.
In the National Assembly leadership as of last year, Patrick Mariru (Laikipia West), Christopher Omulele (Lunda) and Aden Duale (Garissa Town) emerged the best with 1403, 592 and 417 contributions respectively.
In the Senate, Rose Nyamunga, Judith Pareno and Mutula Kilonzo Jnr spoke 873, 554 and 291 times respectively. Current Majority Leader Amos Kimunya spoke 230 times while Minority Leader John Mbadi spoke 219 times.
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