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Kenya’s lazy politicians

The Globalization Institute’s crack of dawn email of links continues to arrive, every week day, and continues to be well worth getting.

One of the recent links thus promulgated was to this editorial, from Kenya.

First few paragraphs:

With all the money they get as emoluments, one would have expected that our Members of Parliament would strive to ensure that they do an honest day’s job all year round.

But a report on their performance released yesterday shockingly says that the legislators only did 57 full working days the whole of last year. Allowing for public holidays, weekends and the days Parliament was in recess, this translates to less than two months of work.

Yet, these are people who are enjoying a salary package of Sh500,000 and other perks. They are the people who have been entrusted with articulating the needs of their people in Parliament.

Despite this, the study conducted by the Institute for Civic Affairs and Development says, there are some MPs who never brought any Bills to the House, never contributed to any and never raised a point of order.

In plain terms, this could be called incompetence.

One of the more depressing and destructive assumptions now rampaging about the world and doing damage to it is that the basic job of politicians is to pass laws. The more laws they pass, the better they must be doing.

But would Kenya really be a better governed country if all its members of parliament were to bring Bills to the House, instead of only some? Is it really the ultimate criticism of a politician that he never tries to pass any new laws. If politics means passing more laws, then maybe Kenya is lucky that it is not getting as much politics as it is paying for. There are far worse political vices than laziness.

I get the rough idea. Kenya’s parliamentarians are not the greatest, and I am sure that is true. But this is a very bad way to explain what is so wrong with them.

8 comments to Kenya’s lazy politicians

  • Verity

    The Kenyans are lucky … although, if they paid them a bit more, they might be able to get them to stay away from Parliament for a while longer. Would that British politicians were are disinclined to interfere in other people’s lives and livelihoods.

  • I’d have to run a complaint in about Britain’s lazy bloggers though – theres and election on and how many posts ahve you mustered to date?

    get thee to Kenya!

  • Bernie

    Reading that I realise how much we have lost with the democratisation of the Lords. A far more sensible idea would have been to abolish the Conmans.

  • JSAllison

    Geez how much would we have to pay our congreffcritters to get them to only be in session 57 days a year? Maybe trim it down to a month?

  • Verity

    JSAllison – a lot. But it would be worth it. And think of the billions we’d save from programmes and schemes for which no feasibility studies would be made; for which no quangoes would be created to administe, for which no office space would be leased and no computers bought and for which no “press officers” would be hired; under which there would be no hordes of people failing to meet quixotic “targets”.

    And also, to have to look at their smug, self-important little faces bleating out rubbish in no known language – certainly not English – for 300 days a year less … surely whatever it cost would be money well spent?

    Worth every penny of whatever it cost.

  • Luniversal

    Parliament only sat for half the year in the days when Britain ran the largest empire in history. Legislators were unpaid until 1911 when they suddenly got £400pa, a modest middle class income then.

    Since every election produces a flood of applicants to be candidates, it is doubtful if we need to pay people to be MPs. Nor is it obvious that the quality of their work would be lower if they did it for free, as a matter of public service or for prestige. An unpaid House of Commons would be composed of those who had achieved something in life beyond politics and could pay their own way, or those whose supporters admired them enough to finance them, like trade-union-sponsored MPs before 1911.

  • guy herbert

    Don’t be so sure that reducing parliamentary sessions would do any good. The British parliament’s hours have been reduced, but it is legislating more than ever. Tony Blair’s administration has even found a way of getting primary legislation through without any substantial debate.

    Nearly everything is now guillotined.

    And in the “Wash up” invented in 2001 for Blairite convenience, Bills get passed by simple agreement of party managers in the week before parliament is prorogued. Thus the following Acts of Parliament all received Royal Assent on 7th April:

    Finance Act 2005

    Appropriation (No. 2) Act 2005

    Mental Capacity Act 2005

    Public Services Ombudsman (Wales) Act 2005

    Commissioners for Revenue and Customs Act 2005

    Disability Discrimination Act 2005

    Education Act 2005

    Serious Organised Crime and Police Act 2005

    Inquiries Act 2005

    Clean Neighbourhoods and Environment Act 2005

    Drugs Act 2005

    International Organisations Act 2005

    Railways Act 2005

    Gambling Act 2005

    Leaving aside the Finance Act, which is always passed on the basis of a formal budget debate, without any attempt at understanding on behalf of most MPs (good luck to them if they try), only two, by my reckoning, the Gambling Act and the Mental Capacity Act, had had any wider discussion. That’s because the moral majority pitched in. And one part of the Serious Organised Crime Act was dropped because controversial.

    Yet still the Government had the cheek to complain for political advantage about the opposition “blocking” things, notably state identity control and the controversial incitement to religious hatred section of SCOA.

  • I live in Zimbabwe where we are trying to persuade the leadership of the opposition to get out into the streets. Only mass action now will dislodge the monster Mugabe. But the opposition, not even yet in power, have got to parliament where they enjoy fat-cat status, and would rather stay there…Kenya is a kind of deja vu. Corruption runs through Africa like blood.