in the Fight against Corruption:
The Case of the Kenyan Parliament
Corruption is one of the socioeconomic and political challenges of independent Kenya. When in 1996, Kenya was ranked the third most corrupt country in the world in Transparency International’s (TI’s) corruption perception index, local and international governance agencies developed a more sustained interest in the country’s governance. Since then, discourse on the governance situation in Kenya has frequently revolved around the government’s efforts to deal with graft and establishing an integrity system in the public service. Corruption is pervasive in Kenya, and it affects the country’s public and private life. Many institutions of its government, including Parliament, the judiciary, and especially the executive arm, have been affected by corruption.1
This case study examines the role that the Kenyan Parliament has played over the years in the war against corruption. It focuses on its role from all three key functions of parliament, namely legislation, representation, and oversight.
Any parliament is a creature of the constitutional framework that defines the society within which it exists. The Kenyan Parliament is no exception. In addition, parliaments are often influenced by the sociopolitical and economic dynamics of their societies. In the political and historical context of the Kenyan Parliament, four major experiences have shaped its institutional and political character: the economics of transition and the challenge of conflict of interest, the political events of the 1960s and the tensions of postindependence politics, one-party state politics, and the constitutional position of parliament. The impact of these experiences is evident in the institutional profile of the Kenyan Parliament to date and its contribution to the war against corruption. These experiences are briefly appraised below.
1 There have been widespread complaints in the Kenyan media about corruption in Parliament, especially in the handling of mileage claims by Members of Parliament (MPs) and the possibility of vested interests outside Parliament affecting parliamentary business. The much-publicized example is that of “cash for questions” allegations, whereby MPs are alleged to be induced by cash rewards to ask particular questions in Parliament.