Wednesday, August 20, 2008



By Jerry Okungu
August 19, 2008

It cannot not get any better for the man who, in last year's elections came a distant third in the presidential polls. Despite losing out to Mwai Kibaki and Raila Odinga on the road to State House, the man miraculously, through backroom negotiations cashed in on the chaos that followed the flawed elections and was rewarded with the vice presidency for propping up Kibaki’s traumatized second term.
Despite hurriedly being named Vice President in Kibaki’s first half Cabinet, many Kenyans could not help but notice Kalonzo Musyoka’s opportunistic and traitor-like tendencies in the whole affair. It later transpired that he was one of the forces that pressurized ECK Chairman Kivuitu to announce the results no matter the results’ credibility! He had seen a window for his miracles.

Now there is another bombshell. The streak of miracles continues to trail the VP family. Now his wife, who has no known title in our constitution, has been presented with a US $7000 monthly gift as long as she remains the wife of Mr. Miracle Man!
There is nothing wrong with giving the wife of the Vice President of Kenya a monthly salary- most probably untaxed. After all the President’s wife is on the payroll, courtesy of the Kenyan taxpayer. At least that lady has a political title. She is the First Lady for heaven’s sake.

It is not that Mrs. Kalonzo Musyoka has been put on the public payroll that is raising eyebrows. It is the manner in which it has happened that may raise resentment and set a precedent that may pose problems for this administration. Yes, Kalonzo Musyoka is the principal assistant to the President but he is not the Head of State’s deputy. He is merely one of the first among equals in this era of forced coalitions. His family can therefore not claim any special privileges knowing that his position is not elective either by the people of Kenya or Parliament.

If Kalonzo’s wife who is already a public servant in the Central Bank with a $ 8000 monthly salary plus other perks can again be paid for being the wife of a vice president, can the Prime Minister’s wife be enjoined in the same gravy train? What of the wives of other cabinet ministers such as Foreign Affairs, Finance, Internal Security and other key ministries that may incur expenses entertaining dignitaries from time to time or simply being compensated for the stress they undergo for being ministers’ wives?

Now that Kalonzo’s wife is on the political payroll, can she graciously and honorably retire from the Central Bank to avoid doubling up as a political employee of the Central Bank? I’m sure another more deserving woman from Muingi or Kitui can take her slot at the bank.

What may raise more questions when Parliament reopens in a few weeks is the manner this major policy shift was implemented. Why was it not presented as an issue in parliament to cover the wives of all ministers, MPs and councilors if necessary? Doesn’t the wife of a Nairobi City Mayor or his deputy deserve a monthly income to cover basic expenses that go with their heavy responsibility?
More importantly, what are the likely ripple effects of the Kalonzo wife paycheck? What will teachers, civil servants and councilors who have been denied substantial pay rise think of the government?

Will they believe that truly there is no money to pay them when the wife of a VP can take home the equivalent of a two year salary of a councilor in Muingi County Council in just one month? If Members of Parliament use this unfortunate example to arm-twist the Treasury into awarding them more perks, how will we argue with them? What will happen if jobless youths start barricading roads to demand their pound of flesh because after all the political class is already raiding the Treasury for their own benefits?

Where is the conscience of our nation? Why do we have leaders who pretend to be faithful Christians yet they steal from their people in broad daylight? Do these people remember the thousands of IDPs that are still living like vagabonds in various parts of the country? Why should the political class abet mass rebellion and resentment unnecessarily? Why would anybody provoke poor Kenyans especially organized militia groups unnecessarily? Can anybody blame the Mungikis for returning to the streets to extort cash from matatu operators and slum dwellers in return for service delivery? Why have our leaders stopped being role models?