The Covid-19 pandemic that continues to ravage the globe occasioned unprecedented challenges and disruptions to Parliament.
According to the 2020 Parliamentary Scorecard released by Mzalendo Trust, a high number of Members of Parliament (MPs), the highest for the 12th Parliament thus far, did not make any contribution in 2020.
In the National Assembly for instance, 31 Members failed to make any contribution in the plenary compared to 21 in 2019. In the Senate, the number of silent members rose marginally by two, to three, compared to one in 2019.
The silent Members in the National Assembly include Jane Chebaibai (Elgeyo Marakwet), Jane Njiru (Embu), Anab Gure (Garissa), Irene Kasalu (Kitui), Rose Mumo (Makueni), Amina Gedow (Mandera), Asha Mohammed (Mombasa), Lilian Tomitom (West Pokot), Janet Teyiaa (Kajiado), Ernest Kivai (Vihiga), Alfred Sambu (Webuye East), Imran Okoth (Kibra), George Kariuki (Ndia), Joshua Aduma Owuor (Nyakach), Sylvanus Osoro (South Mugirango), Lokiru Ali Mohamed (Turkana East), Oscar Sudi (Kapseret), Gideon Konchella (Kilgoris), Fred Ouda (Kisumu Central), Richard Onyonka (Kitutu Chache South), Mathias Robi (Kuria West), Marwa Kitayama (Kuria East), Bady Twalib (Jomvu), George Aladwa (Makadara), Abdi Shurie (Mbalambala), Maalim Kulow (Banissa), Patrick Ntwiga (Chuka/Igambang’ombe), Said Haribae (Galole), Charles Gimose (Hamisi) and Maina Kamanda (Nominated). Eight of these did not also make contributions in 2019.
Those who failed to register in the Senate Hansard are Gideon Moi (Baringo), Victor Prengei (Nominated) and Phillip Mpaayei (Kajiado).
Mirroring the same trend is the number of speech counts. The drop is also evident from the average number of speech counts by top performers. In the National Assembly, the count, which stood at 227 in 2019, dropped significantly to 176 in 2020. In the Senate, it fell from 338 to 313 during the same period.
The top 20 Members in the National Assembly include Kimani Ichung’wa (Kikuyu), Joseph Limo (Kipkelion East), Millie Odhiambo Mabona (Suba North), David Sankok (Nominated), Chris Wamalwa (Kiminini) and Sabina Chege (Murang’a). Both Millie Odhiambo and David ole Sankok have demonstrated consistency, having also made it to the top in 2019.
In the Senate, Johnson Sakaja (Nairobi), Samson Cherarkey (Nandi), Moses Wetangula (Bungoma), Ledama ole Kina (Narok), Farhiya Ali Haji (Nominated) and Getrude Musuruve (Nominated) made it to the top.
Top women performers in the National Assembly include Millie Odhiambo, Sabina Chege, Gladys Wanga (Homa Bay), Rachael Nyamai (Kitui South) and Eve Obara (Kabondo Kasipul). Nominated Senators dominated the Senate list, with Farhiya Ali Haji, Getrude Musuruve, Alice Milgo, Abshiro Halakhe and Petronila Were securing the bragging rights.
The 4th session of the 12th Parliament was predominantly shaped by the COVID-19 pandemic, which triggered unprecedented disruptions to the hitherto normal operations. Normal sittings were disrupted, including initial suspension and reduced physical attendance. According to the Executive Director of Mzalendo Trust, Caroline Gaita “these challenges, including in performance are not unique to Kenya but are consistent with the challenges that faced legislatures across the globe as they sought to adjust their sittings, operations and resources to respond to the pandemic.” To sustain operations, Parliaments have adopted measures, which include, among others, enhanced use of technology and amendments to Standing Orders of both Houses.
Despite this unprecedentedly disrupted environment, Parliament demonstrated a degree of resilience judging by the number of bills, motions, petitions and statements tabled. In the Senate for instance, 16 bills, 9 motions, 30 petitions and 219 statements were tabled, yielding small differences from 2019 figures when 18 bills, 15 motions, 34 petitions and 198 statements were tabled. Similar trend was reflected in the National Assembly, where 22 bills, 6 motions, 52 petitions and 363 statements were tabled in 2020, compared to 22 bills, 19 motions, 70 petitions and 236 statements in 2019.
Of the statements raised, 34 by the National Assembly and 18 by the Senate were in response to the Covid-19, touching on accountability, usage of funds by ministries and counties, country preparedness, stimulus packages and cushioning programmes, mental health, education, security and safety of children.
Mzalendo (www.mzalendo.com) Kenya’s Premier Parliamentary Monitoring Organization has been releasing the scorecard since 2014. The scorecard is based on every member’s (National Assembly and Senate) contribution as captured by the Hansard and is aimed at increasing legislative transparency while providing citizens an opportunity for public participation and tracking of their members’ performance. The report, recognising the official role played by the leaders of Majority and Minority, whips as well as members of the Speaker’s Panel does not include their data in the report.