In commonwealth countries, parliamentary speakers play a crucial role. In order to ensure the orderly flow of business, the national assembly observes parliamentary rules, procedures and traditions, both written and unwritten.
It is the Speaker’s duty to interpret these rules IMPARTIALLY , to remain NEUTRAL in government and opposition debates, to maintain ORDER, and to DEFEND the rights and privileges of Members, including the right to FREEDOM OF SPEECH.
In order to preserve the trust of the House, the Speaker’s must uphold the sanctity of the national assembly; and his actions and utterances must be impartial.
Consequently, the Speaker never participates in debate nor allow the use unparliamentary language on the floor of the house. The Speaker may only vote in case of a tie during division. The speaker works to balance the right of the Government to transact business in an orderly manner and the right of all Members to be heard in debate.
It all seems civil and clear cut until you happen to tune to Kenya parliamentary live debates! Yup. The curse that is the Jubilee tyranny of numbers.
Kenyans do not seem to be shocked to have received news reports of Speaker Justin Muturi shouting down Kibra Member of Parliament Hon. Kenneth Okoth during live parliamentary debate yesterday: “This is not Kibera!” As if to assert the Speaker’s unfortunate comment, the Majority Leader Hon Aden Duale finished it off by yelling “it is not Kibera and we are not selling fish!”
Welcome to the land of Jubilee dominated parliament, where the insanity of ethnic innuendos, insults and tribal imputations are in abundance! Mind you, it is not the first time Speaker has used these offensive words in parliament while supressing the rights of the Honourable Member of Kibra. He has made it a habit. Instead of leading parliamentary debate towards legislating ways to help citizens improve their lives and attain better levels of development; Speaker Muturi is leading parliament to lowering its own prestige in the eyes of the public and propagating anti-Luo garbage. Instead of enforcing rules, Speaker violates them! Can Kenyans expect quality legislation?
The implication here is that parliament is not Kibera slums (where the honourable member was born and bred, and represents in parliament). The speaker’s derogatory remarks are aimed straight at Kibra voters where he assumes the majority of residents are from the Luo ethnic community whose common delicacy is fish, and according to Duale where parliament is not a fish market. Reminds us of Amos Kimunya of the past.
The Speaker not only violated parliamentary custom and standing orders, but also unwittingly let out an extremely dangerous inflammatory statement on the floor of the house which was only made worse by the majority leader. These are the silly stereotypes against poor communities more often promoted in political circles that majority Luos inhabiting Kibera slums are generally idle/lazy, drunk/drugged, diseased/unhealthy and violent/criminal slum-dwellers. Nothing could be further from the truth. All communities of Kenya live in Kibera and all communities of Kenya do sell and eat fish. So much for ignorance and silly stereotyping!
On a personal level, knowing who Hon. Kenneth Okoth is even before he became MP, this is a young man who has achieved a lot and given back so much to his community. It will be impossible for either Muturi or Dualle to achieve half of what the MP has attained.
In developed democracies, Speaker Muturi’s utterances are enough reason to demand a resignation. But in Kenya, he will be defended by people who wont see anything wrong with his reckless talk. They would tell you Muturi is doing a great job leading an institution promoting a common national heritage!
But WHAT IF it was Raila who shouted at Ngunjiri, “this is not Majengo (Nyeri slums), and Ababu sums it “and we don’t treat jigger infestations here!”? Jibu hiyo…