Parliament is again on the spot over allegations of massive corruption involving squandering of public resources, nepotism and malice in Censure Motions and questions.
A report released on Thursday by Transparency International- Kenya (TI) indicated that MPs were abusing parliamentary committees through unnecessary local and international trips.
According to TI Executive Director Job Ogonda: “Parliamentary committees have been spending more time in either local or foreign trips posing questions on the necessity and value of some trips.”
He further said some committee chairpersons were asking their staff to search for international conferences via the Internet and arrange for their trips.
“The actual relevance of conferences obtained via the Internet may not suffice as there is no due diligence conducted by the committee chairs or by Parliamentary Service Commission (PSC),” Mr Ogonda said.
TI also discovered that most of the local trips were reactionary, an indication that they were hurriedly arranged to react to a particular incident.
Composition of the various parliamentary committees was also a key concern as Mr Ogonda said senior political leaders used them to reward their loyalists and punish their dissenters through appointments and dismissals to or from lucrative committees.
“Some MPs go to great lengths, including engaging in acts of bribery to get appointments to the committees,” Mr Ogonda asserted.
Investigative committees were also said to be misusing their mandate through targeted investigations intended to intimidate public officials and solicit favours for their friends and relatives.
Mr Ogonda also noted that although censure Motions and questions in Parliament were important, some MPs were using them to settle political scores while others were doing so because they had been paid by individuals or companies.
“Some MPs are paid to raise questions, to introduce Motions for political and economic interests. Some MPs accept financial inducements to frustrate Motions by raising unnecessary points of order or by keeping away from the House so that rules on quorum lead to cessation of debates,” Mr Ogonda observed.
He also said the research done in a period of three months showed that: “Some MPs received up to Sh200,000 as financial inducements to vote against two high profile censure Motions.
Members of the Parliamentary Service Commission (PSC) were also accused of hiring their relatives and friends to the National Assembly, irregularities in awarding tenders and making irregular payments including giving MPs hefty pension perks.
“The human resource system within Parliament is also questionable in the recruitment of staff. Over the last two years you find a number of new staff being related to the PSC members by blood or marriage. Two commissioners have as their personal assistants their own blood relatives. There are two serving MPs whose wives are working in PSC,” he alleged.
Following interviews from MPs, Parliamentary staff, current and former PSC members, Mr Ogonda concluded that Parliament had ignored the anti-corruption policies and was more concerned with serving personal interests as opposed to the nation.
He suggested that the Parliamentary Service Commission should have more people who are not MPs and also set qualifications for members. He also said the proposed recall clause in the draft Constitution would be an effective tool for the time being.
Other recommendations included having a strong Senate to oversee the running of Parliament.