Former First Lady Mama Ngina Kenyatta has been receiving a monthly pay in excess of half a million shillings from the government amid legal debate on whether she is entitled to the payments.
Official documents from the Presidency indicate that Mrs Kenyatta receives Sh568, 218 monthly at taxpayers’ expense for being the spouse of Kenya’s first president, Mzee Jomo Kenyatta, who died in 1978.
Treasury officials say the payment is tied to the law that provides for a spouse of a sitting or retired president to be paid 40 percent of the current salary paid to the sitting head of state should their husband die.
But some lawyers reckon that the payment is not consistent with the Presidential Retirement Benefits Act, which took effect in January 2003.
“Ideally, this law cannot be applied retrospectively. Mrs Kenyatta, while deserving State pension or gratuity, is not entitled to a government pay when the Act is applied strictly,” said a lawyer who requested anonymity because he did not want to be seen discussing the first family in public.
Mrs Kenyatta started receiving the payment before her son, Uhuru Kenyatta, became President in 2013, officials at the Presidency say.
At 40 percent of the sitting president’s salary, Mrs Kenyatta is in line for a Sh577, 500 monthly pay.
“Spouse benefits upon the death of a serving President or of a retired President who is in receipt of or who is entitled to a pension under this Act, his surviving spouse shall be entitled to benefits amounting to fifty percent of such pension,” says the Presidential Retirement Benefits Act.
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