MPs must be held to account over funds

Revelations that members of the National Assembly’s Budget and Appropriations Committee have secretly been allocating extra funds to their constituencies deserve speedy investigations.

Over the past year, some House committees have garnered notoriety for engaging in blackmail and extortion instead of living up their key watchdog and oversight mandates.

Just as bad would be a committee charged with ensuring fair and equitable budgetary allocation becoming an avenue for the members to buy political capital.

It is unfortunate that whenever MPs are caught in irregular transactions, the entire House retreats into a grand conspiracy to protect the culprits from the law.

As witnessed with the recent allegations of corruption against various select and departmental committees, the culprits were let off lightly instead of firm recommendations that they be arrested and charged.

With the latest scandal, it seems that MPs are more concerned that their own constituencies missed out on the gravy train. That is why instead of referring the matter to the rightful investigative authorities, they want it discussed as an internal matter.

To add insult to injury, they propose that discussions be held behind closed doors so as not to embarrass their colleagues.

This secrecy is highly irregular. The law provides that all sittings of the House and committees be held in the open with full access to the media and the public. In a case like this that is of great public interest, even an informal sitting, or Kamukunji, must be held in the open.

In any case, this is not a matter for internal bargaining by those in involved, but one that should attract the attention of the police and the Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission.