By Alphonce Shiundu
NAIROBI, KENYA: One hundred MPs in the National Assembly have spoken less than ten times in the House since March 28 when they were sworn in, a new audit of their performance has revealed.
The study has ranked Majority Leader Aden Duale as the busiest lawmaker in the National Assembly. Duale has spoken 1,111 times. There are 15 MPs, out of the 349 in the National Assembly, who have spoken just once.
The report compiled by Mzalendo, a public-watchdog whose mission is to “keep an eye on Parliament”, is a first audit on the performance of the current MPs.
However, the report looks at the frequency with which the MPs have contributed in the House, but does not delve into the quality of their contributions.
It was generated, Mzalendo told The Standard, after reviewing the official records of the House for the 112 of the 118 sittings that the House has had since the lawmakers were sworn in.
The findings in the report dovetail perfectly with a personal assessment of the Speaker of the National Assembly Justin Muturi, who also singled out Duale as one of those lawmakers who have “really tried” in carrying out their duties.
In an interview with The Standard, Muturi had said Duale was busiest and most-hardworking in trying to make sure that the Government responded to every request that had been put in the House.
“In all fairness, the Leader of Majority Duale has really tried. He is all over. He has really tried, although I know being in Government is a bigger challenge than being in the opposition,” said Muturi, noting that he has experience both on the Government and opposition benches, and now as the legislative umpire.
GET HIS FLOW
“I have been a whip of the opposition. I was in Kanu in the Eighth Parliament and I know how we used to get challenged. In the ninth Parliament, I was in the opposition. Duale is all over and does not want to let anything to pass him… he has to do a lot to ensure that he’s got his flow,” Muturi said.
The Speaker had also mentioned Deputy Minority Leader Jakoyo Midiwo (Gem), Amina Abdalla (nominated), Benjamin Langat (Ainamoi), Samuel Chepkonga (Ainabkoi), Kimani Ichung’wa (Kikuyu), John Mbadi (Suba), Chris Wamalwa (Kiminini), Mutava Musyimi (Mbeere South), and Wilbur Otichillo (Emuhaya) as “some of fine minds in the House”.
“Abdalla is one of the best minds on Jubilee side. She is good. She has worked tirelessly. Even when she responds to statements, she gives statements that have substance, she delves into the issues members have raised. She produces very good reports. She pays attention to details. I recommend the House to look at her reports,” said Muturi.
Abdalla, according to the Mzalendo report, has spoken 79 times.
Mr Muturi, a member of the Jubilee coalition, said he “admires” the opposition politicians’ way of debating, to an extent that some lawmakers in his own party grumble.
“People say that I favour Mbadi, no, that’s not favouring. It is because a lot of times he speaks a lot of sense. I cannot ignore that,” said Muturi in an interview with The Standard to review the National Assembly’s first nine months.
According to the Mzalendo report, Mbadi has spoken 251 times. He is ranked sixth.
“Wilbur Otichillo, when he’s dealing with his area of specialisation, (genetics, environmental science, and space science) he’s very good. There are many (MPs) who are good,” said Muturi. But the ones he mentioned are top on the Mzalendo list. Otichillo, according to the Mzalendo report card, has spoken 16 times.
For Ichung’wa, who has spoken 67 times, Muturi added: “Ichung’wa is a very good mind. When he’s not doing politics, trying to point fingers at CORD, when he’s not doing that, he’s a very fine mind.”
The Mzalendo report does not list ten lawmakers, and it is possible that some of them are silent debaters. The report explains that those not listed could be because they share surnames, and so, from the Hansard, it is difficult to ascertain who exactly was being referred to.
“The Hansard entries for parliamentarians sharing surnames are difficult to distinguish as the records do not include their initials,” Mzalendo told The Standard in an email.