Thursday, July 24, 2008


Nominated MP Amina Abdallah has moved a Motion to shake up the powerful Parliamentary Service Commission to shore up the image of Parliament. The Motion proposes a constitutional amendment to pave way for the nomination of non-sitting MPs and women MPs to the PSC.

Ms Abdallah said it the commission should have some "moderators" to have the public’s confidence, which she said was seen as "both judge and jury" on MPs’ welfare. She said the independent commissioners would defend the institution, which had been accused of insensitivity and extravagance due to arbitrary increment of members’ salaries.

"Parliament is having a public relations nightmare. We need to include some non-sitting members to act as moderators with moral authority to defend members," she urged MPs.

She sought permission to introduce a Bill to amend Section 45 of the Constitution to allow the changes on the composition of the PSC, which was established in 2001. The ten-member team comprising the Speaker as the chair and MPs as commissioners sets salaries and allowances for MPs and staff of the National Assembly. It has never had a woman member.

Members of the Eighth Parliament pushed for its formation to protect the independence of Parliament, previously under the whims of the executive.

Amina said Parliament has called for transparency in other public institutions and must, therefore, lead by example. "We must practice what we preach. As a House we should not preach water and drink wine," she said.

Independent commissioners, she said, were best placed to defend members against accusations that they did not work and were only interested in raising their perks. She, however, observed that the Judicial Service Commission sets perks for its officers and the director of the Kenya Anti-Corruption Commission earns "three times what an MP takes home" yet the public doesn’t complain.

The Kanu nominated MP also said the Leader of Government Business should give up his slot in the commission. "In 2001, members set aside the position because they did not want to antagonise the executive," she said.