The Principle and practice of parliamentary independence: interrogating the case of Kenya, 1963-2014.
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This study interrogates the principle and practice of parliamentary independence in Kenya. It investigates factors that have contributed to lack of independence and assertiveness in the Kenyan parliament from 1963-2014, with a view to exposing challenges and pitfalls. This study is necessary because a lot of studies by scholars have focused on democracy and democratization but not on the importance of parliament as a driver of the democratic process. Further, a lot of studies have failed to show that despite political reform efforts, there exist certain challenges that have their origin in the character of the African state, that continually undermine parliamentary independence. The overall objective of the study was to demonstrate factors that have undermined parliamentary independence in Kenya despite political reform efforts to empower parliament to effectively discharge its mandate. The study employs a descriptive research design and applies the purposive, snowball, and simple random sampling techniques. The study focuses on Members of Parliament who have served in parliament from immediately after independence. A total of 78 respondents were sampled. Questionnaires, interviews and analysis of library sources were also used. The study employed the political philosophy of Nicollo Machiavelli, and the Neopatrimonial theory. These theories are important because they shade light on the genesis of problems of the African state. They provide an avenue for the understanding of reasons that impede efforts to democratize, and parliamentary independence in spite of significant political reform efforts. The study was premised on the argument that the one-party state constrained parliament from undertaking its core functions, that political reforms did not result into an independent and effective parliament and that Kenya, like other African states faces challenges that continually undermine parliamentary independence and assertiveness. The study reveals that for parliament to effectively discharge its mandate, it ought to be independent and institutionalized. However, political reform and other measures undertaken to empower parliament as an institution, did not translate into an independent and assertive House. This is in regard to the performance of parliament‟s core functions. The study therefore exposes challenges that endure and undermine parliamentary independence.