Kenyans – young or old – have internalised that fact: Our politicians seek power, for power sake.
I return to the theme of the rambunctious Kenyan legislators, so soon after writing about their unceasing capriciousness, in as many weeks, because once again, they have proved to all and sundry that they will never cease to amaze Kenyans as curious objects of befuddlement.
These past weeks they have been notoriously in the news, and not for the great works they are doing for Kenyans in their respective constituencies, who happen to be their employers, but for their chicanery and sabre-rattling.
The Kenyan MP is proving to be a millstone around his voters’ necks: He lies easily, unashamedly and he is without candour.
Angry Kenyans exhausted with the MPs' unbecoming behaviours, excoriated them for being a people out of touch with their employers.
When pressed to give a parliamentary report on their Moscow escapades during the World Cup in mid-July, the MPs, being none-the-wiser, supposedly scoured the Internet, picked a report that they thought would fool voters (and perhaps Parliamentary staff?) and allegedly copy pasted it, the whole kit and caboodle, and lay claim to its ownership; all the while presenting it as their truly considered report.
Once upon a time, in the late 1980s, veteran journalist Philip Ochieng, then editor-in-chief of the defunct Kanu party newspaper, The Kenya Times, lambasted and tongue-lashed MPs, referring to them as a bunch of ne’er-do-wells, a class of people who in their twisted minds presumed Kenyans owed them a living – an extravagant breed, more concerned with their self-images and thoroughly corrupt and corruptible individuals.
Several years back, a senior judge of the High Court of Kenya (now retired) painted to me a picture of the archetypal Kenyan MP – cheap, facetious, unavoidably greedy, narcissistic and concerned primarily with three things: me, myself and I.
“The Kenyan MP can be bought with as little as KSh5,000 and they are not ashamed to take the money or be repeatedly bribed by whomever.”
MPs' HAVE NO VIRTUES
The judge observed that the Kenyan MP has no scruples, would do anything to sell his ideals – that is if they have any – all to pocket Judas’s silver coins and they are the laziest characters on earth.
They will betray anything and anyone. “They are driven by a wanton appetite for money and that’s why they are easily manipulable by the Executive and whoever else wants to manipulate them. They always have a price, like cabbages in the market place.”
It does not matter that some of them would like to pretend and carry themselves as political potentates or sophisticates, or are highly educated and consider themselves to be a cultured lot, even if they cannot stop themselves from nosing-it-up to the electorate.
“The Kenyan MP is impervious to social etiquette and political decorum. Their one organising principle and raison d’etre for going to parliament is to make money in the fastest and shortest time possible,” the judge summed up.
SUGAR REPORT AND BRIBERY CLAIMS
Once busted and exposed for being bribed on the corridors and bathrooms of the August House three weeks ago to reject a parliamentary report on the presumed contaminated sugar, the disingenuous MPs quickly concocted a plausible reason why there were too many brown envelopes with between KSh5,000 and KSh10,000 inside, flying all over the Parliament precincts: They were collecting money for a pending wedding ceremony associated with one of their colleagues.
Shame is a vocabulary that seems to have been long expunged from the MPs lexicon: Unfazed that they had been caught with their hands in the cookie jar, the disgraced honourable MPs treated the Kenyan voter as their children – to be openly lied to and it mattered less whether indeed the voter knew he was being lied to or not.
And as if that was not terrible enough, the MPs are back at it again: They want more perks, increased emoluments and God knows what.
For what? For representing the Kenyan voter so ably in their “Moscow campaigns”.
For working extraneously hard to make sure “sub-standard” reports such as the sugar report, which was presumably “hurriedly compiled”, does not pass through their thorough scrutiny.
The fact of the MPs being bribed or being bribe-able, is not new or news to Kenyans; neither is their lust for quick money.
In a strange twist of logic, Kenyans – young or old – have internalised that fact: Our politicians seek power, for power sake.
The positions of influence they command open doors for them to make lots of money, unscrupulously of course.
But more fundamentally, politicians have many avenues for being bribed with hordes of easy money that they surreptitiously convince themselves that it is not stolen or solicited cash.
I learned this in the beginning of this year deep in Naivasha constituency, a place called Ndabibi, west of Naivasha town.
Ndabibi is a settlement scheme where the people are mainly engaged in subsistence farming.
There, I met a budding mother of one, 30-year-old Stella Njeri. Her one greatest ambition in life is to be a politician.
FROM POVERTY TO WEALTH
A casual labourer at one of the biggest flower farms in the area, she told me she has overtime keenly observed the local politicians – soon after they become waheshimiwa (honourables) and before when they are garagaria (nobody).
“No sooner do we elect them than they start growing materially and physically big. I mean their girth expand, literally, and wallets overflow with great money,” Njeri said.
“They start driving huge tinted cars, and suddenly they have lots of expendable cash. Their positions of influence expose them to grand opportunities for making inordinate amounts of money, all for doing nothing. I have seen them.
"The more you earn lots of cash, the less you work for it in real sense; and nobody in Kenya knows how to do that better than the politician.”
Before the budding politicians are elected, they promise the electorate, how as a matter of priority and urgency, they are going to call out the flowers farms' exploitation of the labourers, Njeri observed.
“It is always sweet music to the suffering lot of the wage earners, who are not unionisable and who the multinational conglomerates, in cahoots with the political class, have ensured that they remain subjugated and poverty stricken.”
ENEMIES OF THE PEOPLE
Once the politician gets elected, guess what happens? Posed Njeri.
The flower farms' managements quickly seeks his audience and assiduously courts him, as they day and night seduce him with gifts and hard cash.
“I’ve seen it all: how the elected politicians sneak in and out of the flowers farms, hiding themselves from the same people they were canvassing votes from, to be bribed and turned into enemies of the people.”
“If only I could one day get to be a politician, I would play the game even better than these politicians, who have taken us to be fools and idiots,” Njeri quipped.
Mr Kahura is a senior writer for 'The Elephant', a Nairobi-based publication. Twitter: @KahuraDauti