The MPs’ Salaries Case: A Triumph for Constitutional Supremacy in Kenya

Gado on MPs Salary Raise

“Parliamentarians are expected to operate within the letter and the spirit of the Constitution. Parliament, like all other state organs, is not above the law. Members of the National Assembly, like all other state officers, and the National Assembly, like all other state organs are compelled by the Constitution to adhere to the national values and principles of governance found in Article 10 of the Constitution. We therefore agree with the petitioners that the resolution by the National Assembly to nullify the Gazette Notices published by the SRC was unconstitutional.” – Judgment in Petition No. 227 of 2013 at paragraph 82.

The above judgment by a three-judge bench sitting at the High Court at Nairobi is significant for two distinct yet connected reasons: firstly, it is a big win for the doctrine of constitutional supremacy against the doctrine of parliamentary sovereignty and secondly, it restores much-needed public trust in the ability of the Judiciary to dispense justice. A copy of this landmark judgment is available here.

In the recent past, there have been several spirited public campaigns against members of parliament (MPs) whom many registered voters feel have gone rogue by putting their narrow private interests above those of the electorate that put them in public office. The climax of this perceived parliamentary impunity came in May 2013 when the National Assembly (NA) wrote to the Salaries and Remunerations Commission (SRC) purporting to nullify the remuneration of various categories of state officers which the SRC had published in the Kenya Gazette.

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5 Lessons Mandela Taught Me

Here’s the thing: hate it or love it, Nelson Mandela is a 94 year old phenomenon of a man. He’s done more for more people in his silence than many leaders have done yelling at the top of their lungs on podiums to full stadia. Because, as the age old adage goes, actions speak pretty loudly.

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And now, he finds himself nearing the end of the road, and still not kicking the bucket while the media gives us minute by minute readings of his life-support machines. I try to focus less on what would happen if he died and more on what his life has taught me. I’m going to use a mishmash of his quotes, hip-hop quotes, pictures and random stories because the internet loves things like that. Continue reading

The New Kenya: “Children of The Fifth Monkey”

Sometimes enlightenment beams through the oddest crevices.

I was reading a book by David Thorne, a renowned internet troll, where he sarcastically called one of his coworkers something to the effect of “Harlow’s fifth monkey” for blatantly following rules without questioning them.

For those not familiar with Harlow’s monkey experiment, it goes something like this (and I’m paraphrasing).

He took 5 monkeys and put them at the bottom of the stairs and then put a bananaat the top. When one monkey approached the stairs, all 5 got sprayed with ice water. This was repeated until none of the monkeys tried to get the banana and resolved to remaining warm and dry. At this point, one of the monkeys was replaced with a new monkey. When this monkey went for the banana, the other 4 beat the sh** out of it. It was never sprayed. After this monkey was thrashed once or twice, yet another of the original 5 was substituted for a new one and it was yet again thrashed. The other monkey joined in to this monkey ass whooping with even more enthusiasm and vigor than the original four. No spraying. They replaced the third monkey to the same outcome; no monkey dared approach that damn banana. Eventually the fourth and fifth monkeys were also phased out slowly and initiated with the violent orientation whenever they approached the banana.

A new 6th monkey was introduced. And although none of the 5 monkeys that had been sprayed were there, the 5 in their place still handily dished out a thrashing to the new monkey when it tried to go for the banana. They had no reason to. They didn’t know about the water sprays and the cold that came with them. They didn’t know that they actually could have the banana now. Instead they made sure all other monkeys stayed in line. What line though, is questionable.

I read that and think of this.

 

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#iDontBelieve: “The Power of The People vs. The People in Power”

First and foremost, a heartfelt prayer for the victims of explosion on Moi Avenue.

OK, now on to the blog.

Uhuru Diasporadical Speech
About a week plus ago Uhuru Kenyatta launched his TNA Party in what can only be described as the biggest launch of anything ever in Kenya. Seriously. He must’ve had the same budget as the Avengers movie. It was epic and quite impossible to miss.

The meat of the message he spewed out was some very inspirational, flowery and borderline purple balderdash on the importance of believing and having faith, hope and dreams. If I may, I’d like to quote him quoting someone.

“It was once said and I quote “ To accomplish great things, we must not only act, but also dream; not only plan, but also believe.” end quote. Here today we have seen a dream being unfolded, we have seen the wings of hope that can carry us into the future and beyond. This is not some grand elaborate design, no, on the contrary it is very simple and basic, it all about our dreams. We all dream, children more so, but we must now start believing in the dream in order to achieve great things.”

“Ours is a party whose engine is oiled with the dreams of every Kenyan. A party that focuses into the future by offering solutions for the problems of today and emerging challenges of tomorrow. We seek to dispel the notion that parties are founded with the vision of getting to power. The Alliance is driven by a deep desire to fully implement the Constitution of the Republic of Kenya and the spirit of achieving the national development milestones as laid down in the Vision2030 agenda. That ladies and gentlemen is what we are asking you to judge us on as we move forward.”

- Uhuru Kenyatta, in his speech “TNA: The Alliance of Believers”

The speech is linked up there and it’s really not a horrible read. I tip my hat to the copywriter behind it and the endless hours of YouTubing inspirational speeches that must’ve been put behind that. Really I do. But let me tell you what I don’t believe before I tell you what I do. Continue reading

June 16th: The Day of The African Child…..

I can’t imagine what it must’ve been like to be a Black parent during the Apartheid.

I can’t imagine what I’d tell my kids every morning to make them want to go to school, or every evening to remind them to have hope. I can’t fathom the sheer strength it would take to look into their faces when they ask ‘Why?’ and lie; just so that they don’t have to deal with the brass knuckle truth of being victims of circumstance. Worse still is the blow that truth delivered; that by default they were destined to be lesser people in their own land.

Clearly parents tried to keep the peace and keep their children protected, but I suspect they didn’t lie to their kids. I suspect they told their children the truth, and told them that a change was coming. So they yearned that change. As Bobby Seale once said “You cannot silence injustice with anything but revolution.”

Soweto Uprising

That fateful morning, 45 years ago, the spirit of revolt was with the youth. 20,000 school kids – mere foundlings and soon to be young adults – said enough was enough and walked out of school. A new act had just been passed that forced them to be taught in Afrikaans. They demonstrated peacefully for their right to be taught in their own language or English. When police came to disperse the rightfully disgruntled Africans, they immediately resorted to opening fire.

A 15 year old Hastings Ndlovu was the first to die. Shortly thereafter, a 12 year old Hector Pieterson got shot and fell to the ground. Continue reading

The Ugly Side of the First Lady Syndrome in Africa

“Macbeth: If we should fail —
Lady Macbeth: We fail!
But screw your courage to the sticking-place,
And we’ll not fail.”
– Shakespeare’s “Macbeth”, Scene VII

Political Science 101: power is the capacity to make others do what they would not ordinarily do. Often described as the power behind the throne, First Ladies are well positioned to either build or destroy a nation by virtue of the power they wield over their spouses. In my earlier piece on Last..err..First Ladies in Africa, I focussed mainly on their instrumental role as peace-makers and advocates of change. A role which many of our First Ladies have not taken up and as a result, they are also blamed for the failures and short-comings of their husband’s rule.

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