MPs are driving us into deeper misery, let's act before it’s too late

Thursday May 16 2019

Parliament

National Assembly Speaker Justin Muturi with MPs inside the chambers at Parliament on February 12, 2019, when sittings resumed following a two-month recess. PHOTO | JEFF ANGOTE | NATION MEDIA GROUP 

MICHAEL CHERAMBOS
By MICHAEL CHERAMBOS
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Kenya is for sure yet to see the end of its population’s greed -- greed that has all the characteristics of self-destruction. This week, the country witnessed another episode of this greed when police raided a house in one upmarket address in the capital city and discovered what they chose to describe as fake gold.

FOOLS GOLD

In the unfolding drama, the country was informed of a scheme in which the royal family of Dubai lost millions of shillings to some Kenyan conmen pretending to be able to deliver gold. How people continue to believe that Kenyan businessmen can procure and deliver tonnes of gold to the international market baffles me. 

But we have seen quite a number of these schemes. From the multi-billion Goldenberg scandal of the 90s to the recent discovery at a local branch of an international bank in Nairobi, the global community continues to be attracted to Kenya’s Fools Gold.

It is the identity of the people involved in these criminal enterprises, however, that should worry every peace-loving, law abiding Kenyans. In two of the most recent gold and fake currency scams to be exposed, investigating agencies have mentioned names of political leaders as persons of interest.

In the latest incident, a senator with presidential ambitions has been fingered. Three days after the scandal was exposed the senator has neither confirmed nor denied his involvement in this embarrassing crime despite the head of Directorate of Criminal Investigation declaring that indeed he is in it.

That our so well paid political leaders, particularly MPs, get involved in illegal schemes to make more money is what should be eating the soul of the country and its citizens. A few days ago, the honourable members of the august House decided to appropriate themselves a quarter-a-million shillings more a month each and baptized house allowance.

PLUNDER

To add insult to our collective injury, the 416 people’s representatives backdated the allowance to October last year and paid themselves. We are told in just one pronouncement each of the MPs had some Sh2 million more in their accounts, the country lost close to a billion at the stroke of a pen to these MPs.

There have been various arguments in an effort to justify this plunder of public resources but, so far, none seems to convince me and, going by the mood in public places, majority of hardworking Kenyans.

Even before the self-apportioned house allowance, our MPs were among the most highly paid legislators in the world. They get over Sh1 million a month salary, they have a Sh20 million mortgage facility at a low three percent interest rate (by the way, mortgage is used to buy houses), an official car grant of Sh5 million and a personal car loan of Sh7 million also at three per cent interest.

In addition to the consolidated one-million-plus shillings’ salary, our MPs are also entitled to a sitting allowance every time they attend a parliamentary session (they are Members of Parliament remember!) They draw a mileage allowance every time they are driven in the cars we buy them, and a responsibility allowance.

POVERTY

At that this, Kenyan MPs are paid higher than their counterparts in Britain, Japan and the United States, countries we run to for aid and loans every other day.

That is ridiculous!

Even as the tussle over MPs’ move to apportion themselves millions of shillings of taxpayers’ money goes to court, thanks to the Salaries and Remuneration Commission, one wishes that the average Kenyan gets angry enough. Angry enough to direct their anger in the right direction and angry enough to punish the culprit. 

The lord of our poverty is our MP.

Michael Cherambos comments on topical issues. [email protected]

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