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Last Updated: Thursday, 28 April 2005, 11:31 GMT 12:31 UK
Kenyan MPs 'work one day a week'
By Caroline Karobia
BBC News, Nairobi

A new survey shows that the Kenyan parliament worked for only 57 days in the whole of last year.

Parliament building
Parliament is only supposed to sit for two days a week
The report by the Institute for Civic and Development Affairs says most of the other days were wasted, with parliament being on recess, while the president delayed the opening of parliament.

The findings comes a few days after it was reported that MPs wanted their medical cover boosted to include two wives and up to eight children.

The MPs I spoke to were surprised at the findings but agreed they could work harder.

"We could increase the length of the day. We are paid well enough to work more than 57 days a year," said Jimmy Angwenyi.

Parliament is only supposed to sit on Tuesday and Thursday afternoons and all-day on Wednesday.

This works out as two days a week but 57 days a year means an average of just over one day a week.

Hard-working women

The report says that fewer bills were debated in 2004 than in the previous two years.

Their work is not confined to the floor of the house - committees take up long periods and they evaluate almost every bill
Micheal Ngwalla
Parliament's spokesman
Parliamentary sessions last year were dominated by budgetary and presidential debates, to the detriment of other businesses in the house, it says.

The report also rates the participation of individual MPs and finds that ministers preformed poorly.

The ministers were accused of relegating their duties to their deputies, who the report shows as being overworked in parliament.

Women ministers were also said to have performed better than their male counterparts.

New rules

But parliament's spokesman Micheal Ngwalla says this is not a true picture.

President Mwai Kibaki at the opening of parliament
The report said that too much time was spent on presidential debates
"It is incorrect to interpret the report to mean MPs are not working. Their work is not confined to the floor of the house," he said.

"Committees take up long periods and they evaluate almost every bill."

Gideon Ochanda from the Institute for Civic and Development Affairs agrees that the findings did not include participation of members in house committees.

The research, which is based on parliament's Hansard report, recommends that the standing orders of the house be changed to allow members to perform better.

Do MPs work hard enough? What difference do they make to your life?

Use the form at the bottom of the page to send your comments. A selection will be published below and read out on the BBC's Focus on Africa programme, broadcast at 1705 GMT on Saturday 30 April.

When committees are formed to discuss the formation of committees that would discuss some committees, as is the case frequently in Kenya, this sort of occurence is the result. I believe three full days of business (Monday to Wednesday) is sufficient, leaving the highly overpaid and bloated MPs sufficient time to meet their constitituents and hold extra-parliamentary meetings during the remaining days of the week. Overall, leadership in Kenya has failed to meet the expectations of a needy public though lack of focus to their jobs, lack of priorities in tackling issues affecting Kenyans, and poor management of time. A strict timetable, more transparency of their actions, strong leadership to enforce perfomance goals are needed in Kenya's parliament.
Tom Macharia, Kenya / Charlton USA

Kenyan MPs in general seem quite willing to reap the privileges of a good salary, benefits and power without fulfilling their responsibilities to the people.
Wal Baraza, Sheffield, UK

The MPs in Kenya get a salary every month and its a big blow to a third world country like Kenya to ask for billions of dollars in aid to waste it in paying MPs who work an average of 57 days a year. There should be an academic requirement for one to hold a parliamentary seat. This may improve the quality and quantiy of debate. Issues like economic development in rural parts of the country and publicising of scientific research within the country should deserve more attention than they are getting now.
Zac Atinda, Texas US

Kenyan voters could learn something from the Vatican: lock the doors of Parliament until the MPs finish their work.
John Ejedi, Lagos, Nigeria

Well, Frankly speaking which MP in what country ever works hard.Do our MPs in UK work hard? Not really, they are just a bunch of Boss pleasers and Yes Prime minister types. Hours put in a day does not mean they work hard.
MIPatel, SUrrey, UK

A new survey??? Oh please do not waste your money and time next time. I could have told you this for free. It is a well know fact in most parts of Africa. At least these MPs did 57 days of work a year. In Ghana we know of MPs who "visited" parliament not more than 10 times in 4 years. PS Parliament's register in Ghana is available for anyone to check.
Kobbi, UK, London and Ghana, Accra

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