Speaker of Parliament Marende has called for the enforcement of existing laws as the way to end impunity, in particular calling for MP and former Justice Minister Martha Karua to record a statement with the police to specify her charges that large bribes change hands to influence votes in Parliament. At pains of being prosecuted for making a false statement if she doesn’t in fact back it up.
I agree with the Speaker that enforcement of existing laws is really the key to changing the environment of impunity for politicians. New laws will not help if the law is ignored anyway. Certainly there have been plenty of rumors and more specific stories in circulation about bribery in Parliament. Almost two years in to this Parliament it certainly seems past time to face this head on.
A way to proceed is to have specific statements from those with knowledge and certainly MPs such as Ms. Karua should follow up. But likewise the media should follow up. Corruption issues are continually raised or hinted at in the Kenya media, or even covered in depth initially, but then nothing more. For the Kenyan media to effectively fulfill any type of watchdog role, they will have to learn to start and finish these stories, and to do a lot more actual reporting rather than simply relaying to readers what the various politicians and officials have to say.
Likewise, there is no reason for law enforcement to wait for insiders to hand them the evidence. We see in some areas that the various Kenyan law enforcement agencies can conduct investigations–why do they have to wait for insider whistleblowers?
I must say that I don’t agree with prosecuting a Member for what we in the US would call “speech and debate” in the legislature, but nonetheless, those with knowledge of bribery in Parliament do have an obligation to come forward–and should be protected in doing so.