Thursday, December 4, 2008



By Jerry Okungu
Atlanta, Georgia
December 2, 2008

Kalonzo Musyoka may not be the most popular politician in Kenya but he has accomplished one feat that has eluded many high ranking politicians in Kenya. He has managed to listen to the cries of many poor Kenyans choking under the burden of the taxman. Under his leadership, his party has listened to the many voices of Kenyans that every Kenyan with a reasonable income has a duty to pay taxes to the full and that this call to duty must be answered by all MPs, judges, the Speaker, the Chief Justice, the President and the Cabinet. Under the laws of natural justice, it is immoral to extract taxes from the poor and the helpless while the high and mighty keep their earnings intact. This is the message the ODM K has responded to and congratulations are in order for these courageous sons and daughters of Kenya.

As we commend the 18 ODM-Kenya MPs who have agreed to pay taxes in solidarity with Kangundo MP Johnston Muthama, let us also hasten to recognize Assistant Minister Mwangi Kiunjuri, Mathioya MP Clement Muchiri, Lugari MP Cyrus Jirongo and their Tetu counterpart FT Nyammo who were also among the first MPs to agree to have their allowances taxed. Whether the order to tax these honorable MPs has been effected in Parliament is a matter Kenyans will shortly establish.

However, utterances by Speaker Kenneth Marende and Deputy Prime Minister Musalia Mudavadi on this taxation issue left many Kenyans wondering what the two leaders were really up to. Kenya is hurting so much that any intelligent leader cannot hide behind a law that is hostile to the majority of his people. If Parliament can thwart the wishes of those who elected it; then that Parliament has no business existing. The people of Kenya must rise up and get rid of it the way the people of Thailand got rid of theirs early this week.

For Deputy Prime Minister Mudavadi to say that “If you are told to shave yourself, you would find it difficult,” was a most unfortunate utterance coming from a senior government official like him. We would have understood if junior politicians from his party made such a reckless statement. Kenyans are hurting so much they cannot wait for a new constitution to tax MPs as Mudavadi would like Kenyans to believe. After all, we know how long it can take to have a new constitution!

As the Deputy Prime Minister, Mudavadi is expected to influence this discussion at the cabinet and in Parliament. He cannot just sit back and celebrate that Parliament has sealed the fate of legislators’ allowances! One could not help but think that the good Deputy Prime Minister was in fact celebrating that Parliament had once again shielded him from paying his taxes.

What was even more vexing were the utterances from two cabinet ministers Chris Obure and Omingo Magara alluding that they backed Mudavadi’s sentiments but would only endorse taxation of their allowances on condition that such funds are channelled to their respective Constituency Development Fund kitties!

The question to ask Magara and Obure is this: How many Kenyans have the power to demand from the Treasury that taxes they pay must be channeled to their villages for development? Or, are MPs so special that when they pay taxes; they must be accorded special considerations? Aren’t we overrating our worth as political leaders?

Talking of MPs that have no interest in Kenya at heart even in the hardest of times, as a person who comes from Western Kenya, I feel embarrassed that not a single MP from Nyanza, Rift Valley or Western Province( except Sirus Jirongo) has seen the need to join in this noble gesture. Surely, compared to these regions, Ukambani where the majority of the now tax-paying MPs hail from is less endowed. Yet when it comes to the politics of the podium, our waheshimiwa are the loudest!
If this taxation debate leaves them out, many MPs from Western Kenya will find it rough to go back to Parliament, leave alone a political party from the region gaining currency with Kenyans nationally.

Now is the time to know which MPs and which political parties care for the suffering tax-burdened Kenyans. No tax evading politician can come to me and claim that he is patriotic and stands for change I can believe in. I will not listen to their misguided notions of a grand opposition in Parliament because they will not be worth my time.