In Summary
  • There is a growing list of MPs on the wrong side of the law struggling to clear their names from charges ranging from fraud and forgery to hate speech, corruption and incitement to violence.
  • At least 15 legislators in the National Assembly and the Senate have been charged in court for serious criminal offences while many others, who are part of parliamentary committees, have been accused of bribery and extortion are under suspicion for graft.

Parliament has been rocked by an integrity crisis as legislators continue to battle damning charges in court, shining a powerful spotlight on the objective and purpose of Chapter Six of the Constitution and the Leadership and Integrity Act.

SERIOUS CRIMES

Although not all members of the National Assembly or Senate are culpable, there is a growing list of MPs on the wrong side of the law struggling to clear their names from charges ranging from fraud and forgery to hate speech, corruption and incitement to violence.

Instructively, the conduct of MPs is regulated by various laws which seek to uphold the dignity of their office and facilitate the smooth execution of the House’s mandate.

These include the Constitution, the Leadership and Integrity Act, the Public Officer Ethics Act and the Ethics and Anti-Corruption Act.

Laws governing the conduct of members within the precincts of Parliament include the Parliamentary Powers and Privileges Act 2017, the Speaker’s Rules and the National Assembly Standing Orders.

At least 15 legislators in the National Assembly and the Senate have been charged in court for serious criminal offences while many others, who are part of parliamentary committees, have been accused of bribery and extortion are under suspicion for graft.

Cases against the members of the 12th Parliament are active in courts countrywide and range from corruption allegations, breach of the Constitution and the Ethics and Integrity Act 2012, while others are facing charges of incitement to violence and subversion of the law.

Transparency International (TI) Kenya executive director Samuel Kimeu says that the law compels every person to obey and abide by the Constitution and national values.

But little effort has been made to realise the aspirations of the Constitution as concerns leadership and integrity.

Mr Kimeu says that the disparity of standards applied to serving and prospective officers as far as leadership and integrity are concerned should be remedied.

“Until we find a way for state officers to lose benefits and stature when charged in court, we may not make much progress,” Mr Kimeu told Nation.

INTEGRITY ACT

According to National Council of Churches of Kenya General Secretary Peter Karanja, while the august House does not deserve blanket condemnation, problems started when a rogue legislature and selfish politicians enacted laws that watered down the requirements of Chapter 6 of the Constitution.

Passage of the Leadership and Integrity Act, he says, failed to capture the aspirations of Kenyans as expressed in Chapter 6 of the Constitution.

The Commission for the Implementation of the Constitution (CIC) even challenged the constitutionality of the Act as anticipated by Article 80 regarding legislation on leadership.

Canon Karanja says state officers must pay regard to the competence, integrity and suitability of holding office and that only major institutional reforms would help.

“We need a very strong integrity law. MPs have sway because they make the laws. The era of such legislators with integrity issues hiding under the cloak of parliamentary immunity and protection should end,” he said.

National Assembly Speaker Justin Muturi was unavailable when we reached out for comment.

Page 1 of 2