Opinion and Analysis
Avoid wastage in launch of democratic institutions
Posted Monday, June 4 2012 at 20:19
That Parliament is set to build a 26-storey office block at a cost of Sh5 billion tells us that the cost of running our second Republic is going to be colossal.
Besides this building, there will be more real estate investments at the County headquarters to house the various County Assemblies and offices.
We did not expect the new democratic institutions to be cheap, and neither do we support the feeling that these investments are not worth the trouble.
Actually, strengthening the parliamentary capacity should be one of the hallmarks of our democracy for no nation can prosper minus the required checks and balances carried by strong institutions.
We all know that democracy is not about free and fair elections but how we build sustainable institutions to monitor the road towards democratic maturity.
To achieve that, we need personnel employed to help in supporting such institutions.
Members of the Senate and the National assembly will be required to read through hundreds of pages, attend to their constituents besides participating in committee meetings.
To enable them to be on top of things, and to improve the level of informed debate in Parliament, will require them to be backed by researchers, and governance-oriented institutions, which we believe can find their space here.
In other nations, with a long history of democratic institutions, such offices house research organisations, special interest groups and think-tanks - all who contribute to the growth of the democratic space.
That is why Capitol Hill in Washington D.C is famous.
To nurture our democracy, Members of Senate and the National Assembly will require to network, lobby and get critical information on the various institutions that have been formed by the Constitution.
But a building for building’s sake is not what the government requires at this moment.
If these offices will not be put to use by the respective legislators, then they will be of little value.
If they will not help us to manage and streamline the business of the new Bicameral House, then that will be money down the drain.
There is no need to build such a structure if it will not support the growth of our democratic institutions.