By Alpha Bedoh Kamara
Despite the picturesque landscape of Africa, her raw culture and traditions, beautiful people and exotic animals, and an unlimited supply of natural resources, the majority of the inhabitants live in abject poverty and still struggling to survive using tools learned from decade old traditions.
While our governments stand proud and happy in international platforms, showcasing our people’s heritage and cultures clad in impoverished dresses intricately knitted locally to their tribal lineage, underneath, poverty spiral uncontrollably.
Poor infrastructures, high rate of illiteracy and unemployment, poor economic reforms and poverty, high level of corruption, amidst violation and abuse of rights of millions of our vulnerable people continue with impunity in the eyes of our lawmakers.
And they are still asking for more. Our lawmakers in the continent are asking for everything to make themselves comfortable, they want the newest cars, better salaries, better security and so many privileges while the people they are supposed to serve wallow in mud.
Action by the court in Kenya blocking Sh3.3 billion extra pay to Kenyan MPs should be commended as it serves as precedent to other African nations that their judiciaries need to step up and challenge such national issues that are not economically rational to passed into law.
….In the case where the National Assembly and the Senate are also respondents, lawyer Wambola told the court that if the legislators are allowed to have their way, there is a likelihood that the county leadership and the executive will equally demand their pounds. He added that MPs want to further rip off Kenyans who are already struggling to shoulder the huge burden of heavy taxation…..Courtesy Standard Digital.
It is time this noble institution is put under checks and balance for Africa to be able to address her economic woes. The MPs are supposed to be the representatives of the people, unfortunately, in most African countries they are ‘absent without leave (AWOL).
Members of Parliament should always seek the interest of their constituents by examining and challenging the work of the Government, make and change laws, debate the important issues of the day, as well as checking and approving Government spending.
MPs are AWOL because while economies are struggling and poverty lurking and eating the minds of our people they spend their time thinking of ways to debate policies to raise their salaries and benefits. And as lawyer Wambola told the court in Kenya, ‘MPs want to further rip off Kenyans who are already struggling to shoulder the huge burden of heavy taxation’.
The article, Weak legislatures, failing MPs, and the collapse of democracy in Mali, concludes, The sudden collapse of Mali’s democracy in 2012 revealed the fragility of the state’s legitimacy and authority. This article argues that the decay of democracy was linked to the weakness of the country’s legislature. Malian MPs collectively failed to scrutinize an increasingly discredited executive and parliamentarians typically operated in isolation from the vast majority of citizens. As a result, rising levels of popular discontent were rarely channelled into the formal political process, and the interests that did enter the political arena were largely restricted to the personal support networks and electoral constituencies of individual MPs. The prevalence of these particularistic interests undermined collective parliamentary scrutiny of matters of national interest [Martin van Vliet, African Affairs, 01 January 2014].
The inability of most of the MPs in Africa to better understand the importance of their role and responsibility in society as opposed to their personal desire is what is breaking down Africa’s legislative system. Instead of being the mouthpiece of their people most MPs become the mouthpiece for their political parties and will just ‘rubber stamp’ any bill that comes their way even if it will end up displacing and destroying social and cultural values of their people.
The role of MPs is critical in ensuring political stability and ethical economic activities but their inability to effectively use their position has often resulted in various forms of abuse of power, corruption, and violation and abuse of the rights of our people.
Africa is in dire need of ethical sound policies to once again change the economic wheel and better the lives of the people and that is why the judiciary and legislature are very vital in guiding the executive as it controls the wheel of power.
With better infrastructures, education, healthcare, employment opportunities and empowerment of the girl child education, Africa can effectively keep up and promote her rich culture and heritage. Our MPs need to go down to the people, live and talk with them and make sure their views are heard in parliament!
The Kenyans are talking; the message is not only for the people in Kenya but for Africa.