“The great enemy of the truth is very often not the lie — deliberate, contrived and dishonest, but the myth, persistent, persuasive, and unrealistic. Belief in myths allows the comfort of opinion without the discomfort of thought.”
~ John F Kennedy
Now the lie is: that only MPs in this country are greedy, they are not. We all are, at least most of us, and would also probably set our own salaries as high as we could if we had the opportunity to do so.
Now the myth is: that MPs need this high salaries in order to run an informal welfare system for their constituents… really? The fact is they need this money to both recoup monies they spent greasing their way to parliament and to continue giving handouts to ensure they are in good stead for re-election (a very selfish motive far from anything motivated by goodness of heart). Now if these handouts even work at all is moot, especially considering 50 to 70% of MPs fail to get re-elected; and with free reign on CDF monies it was hard to even argue that the crumbs given to the hoi polloi came out of the pockets of past MPs.
Now the thing to think about is this: Figures indicate that Kenya’s public sector wage bill has almost doubled from $2.85 billion in 2008-09 to $5.4 billion in 2012-2013 (Source). This is in excess of 50% of the total domestic revenues (revenues stand at KShs 766 Billion ~ $9 billion –Source: Kenya National Bureau of Statistics ), which is way above the international best practice of not more than 35%recommended for countries in Sub-Saharan Africa.
The United States gave Kenya $625 million in aid last year (Source: July 2012 Congressional Research Service) This is about 7% the size of Kenya’s own total revenue. This is money we begged for because we are “poor” and cannot feed our own people or pay our own bills.
So the burning question is: Why is a country like ours –with a population eight times less than the US’s (US: Population 316M, Kenya: Population 40M), a geographical area 17 times less than the US’s (US: Size 9,826,675 km2, Kenya: Size 580,000 km2), — end up having an almost equal number of Governors (US: Governors 50, Kenya: Governors 47), almost equal number of MPs to Reps (US: Representatives 435, Kenya: MPs 349), and Senators (US: Senators 100, Kenya: Senators 67)?
Even more damning is the fact that the current salary (2013) for rank-and-file members of the House and Senate is $174,000 per year (Source). Yet our MPs are asking for $120,000 a year; this in a third world country which, it needs not be overemphasized, has a GDP 206 times less than the US’s (US: GDP $15.685 trillion, Kenya: GDP $75.888 billion), and a Per Capita 28 times less than the US’s (US: Per Capita $49,922, Kenya: Per Capita $1,802). We also boast of a shameful unemployment rate of over 40% and an average income of just $76 a month, with almost half the population living a wretched and hopeless existence below the poverty line.
Prosecuting activists for releasing bloodied swine outside our disgraced “august” house should be the least of our concerns.
But as they say: This is Africa