Kenyans received with shock and disgust the disturbing news of the unanimous adoption by Parliamentarians to award themselves increase in salaries. We dismiss with the contempt it deserves, the proposal by MPs to pay tax only on K.Shs. 200,000/= and walk away with a cool million shillings.
It is incredulous and heartless of MPs to argue that they are not so highly paid and that no suitable pecuniary worth can be placed on the services they render to their constituents.
It is injustice and impunity for the allegedly cash strapped Government to purport to adopt such an imperious salary scale for Parliamentarians, despite the grave situation on the ground. There are numerous economic needs in Kenya that affect majority of Kenyans, of whom the MPs are but a privileged minority.
Thousands of Kenyans remain in the IDP camps hungry and starving. Millions of Kenyans cannot access clean water. Millions of Kenyans live in poor sanitary conditions. More are yet to benefit from electricity. Roads are grossly dilapidated. Our hospitals are understaffed and lack essential drugs. Teachers are ill paid, unmotivated and the schools in which they teach lack suitable or adequate facilities. These are the real issues Kenyans expect their taxes to solve. To see money channeled to benefit a greedy few is totally unacceptable.
We have in the past vehemently protested against the move by Members of Parliament to arbitrarily increase their salaries and their adamant refusal to pay tax. It is most annoying that despite our protestations, MPs have gone ahead to blatantly disregard our opinions and act in utter contempt of the electorate’s views and opinion. This latest motion adopted in Parliament is cogent evidence that MPs do not have regard for Kenyans’ opinion, aspiration and/or interest and they are bent on acting with impunity.
It is apparently lost on Parliamentarians that they are hired by Kenyans to represent their interests in the Government, and that it is therefore, of utmost importance whenever we the electorate protest against certain public issues that they stop and listen to us. To act contrary to popular demands is obvious insubordination by the MPs of their appointing authority.
We roundly reprimand the legislators at this not-well-thought-through move on their part. We are hereby sending a clear and stern warning to the August House that if they continue to act of touch, Kenyans will be left with no choice but to dramatize their frustrations and intolerance of impunity. We challenge any legislator that claims high moral grounds to publicly condemn misuse of parliament and work towards defeating the selfish gang of parliamentarians.
The Parliamentarians’ action flies in the face of a public interest case filed by 17 Kenyans in December 2008 at the High Court, demanding that the Parliamentary Service Commission (PSC) be scrapped for violating the Constitution of the Republic of Kenya, and for flouting the republican ethics that prohibit public officials from using their offices for unjust enrichment and other forms of personal gain. In that landmark public interest case, Kenyans sought orders that the PSC be declared unconstitutional along with the law that created it and further that the High Court order the recovery of all the money and other resources the PSC has squandered on Parliamentarians since 2003. This High Court case is but one of the highlight of Kenyans’ long standing disagreement with the move to have Parliamentarians review their own remuneration.
The latest development in the August House is damning evidence in favor of Kenyans’ argument that the Akiwumi commission was biased from inception and was bound to come up with recommendations heavily skewed in favor of their appointing authority that was also the key beneficiary, the Parliamentarians. We standby our previous recommendation for a review commission comprising independent professionals be set up in order to have an independent and objective review of Parliamentary emoluments.
We strongly urge fellow Kenyans to remain steadfast in fighting and rooting out leaders that are intent on abusing public institution or using public office to enrich themselves. We remind you fellow Kenyan that it is this arbitrary use of power by public officials and institutions that should persuade you towards working on the realizations of the proposed constitution. This constitutional moment gives us as a people unmatched historical opportunity to permanently root greed and impunity from public affairs and reclaim leadership. The new is about a break from corruption; a break from injustices, a break from inequitable society; a break from impunity and most importantly a break from bad leadership.
On August 4th, make a date with history; in our numbers let us send a clear message of our resolve to break from evils of older order.
By George Nyongesa
Bunge la Mwananchi