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EDITORIAL: Weakened House a big let-down for us all

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The events of the past week should jolt Kenyans into reflecting on our system of governance and state of the economy.

Increasingly and steadily, the Executive has managed to emasculate the other arms of government and, inadvertently, we are relapsing to the era of powerful presidency without checks and balances.

During the controversial vote on Thursday on the memo by President Uhuru Kenyatta, who had rejected the Finance Bill passed earlier by Parliament, the Executive found its way through manipulation and coercion. MPs behaved badly when they realised they could not block passage of President Kenyatta’s proposals. But underneath that was a sense of frustration. The Executive is getting its way through the House.

Parliament, ideally the custodian of the public’s interest, has been weakened and rendered willingly or unwillingly an appendage of the Executive.

Since March when President Kenyatta and Opposition Leader Raila Odinga entered a political truce and undertook to co-operate and work together on matters of national interest, the spirit of opposition politics equally died.

In principle, the handshake was meant to cool down political temperatures and allow for reasoned debate on public matters.

But that did not mean killing the Opposition and reverting to the era of single party. It was not meant to cripple Opposition.

But what has happened is that the Opposition has been severely incapacitated. Opposition leaders inside and outside Parliament have abandoned their role and instead become protégés of the Executive.

Matters have been made worse by the fact that erstwhile independent voices like the religious groups and civil society have also capitulated. It is dangerous scenario for the country.

The reason Kenyans fought vigorously for enactment of a new Constitution was to reorganise governance.

Years of imperial presidency had taught us that citizens risk losing civil liberties when powers are centred in the hands of an individual.

For this reason, the current Constitution created several centres of power, both at the national and county levels, essentially to provide checks and balances and promote good governance.

Inevitably, the structure was bound to be expensive, as it has turned out to be, but the costs cannot be compared with the pain of dictatorship and repression that comes with imperial presidency.

We cannot countenance a situation where the Opposition is so ineffectual and does the bidding of the Executive. The end result is suffering for the public.

Following the proceedings in Parliament this week, the country is destined for economic turbulence.

The citizens have to brace up for high cost of living, depressed growth, poor infrastructure, unemployment and increased cases of insecurity.



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