Tuesday, December 9, 2008



By Macharia Gaitho
December 8 2008

It was rather surreal at the weekend when President Kibaki repeated his familiar refrain on the importance of paying tax.

He somehow contrived to state so without mentioning the one single taxation issue that has fixated the nation over the past few weeks: MPs and their refusal to pay their rightful dues.

It comes out hollow and empty when the President urges citizens to pay their taxes, yet he turns a blind eye to the earnest cries for him and fellow MPs to lead by example and pay their rightful share.

We have been very busy blaming MPs for conspiring to knock out the proposal in the Finance Bill that would have deleted the immoral clause that allows them to escape taxation on their considerable fringe benefits.

We know that our legislators will always act in advancement of selfish interest; therefore it should be no surprise that they behave the way they do.

It is also likely that we cannot expect much relief from the courts on this matter because the Judiciary also benefits from the grand tax-dodge.

That should place the solution squarely in the hands of President Kibaki and Prime Minister Raila Odinga.

It would have been a straightforward matter for the Cabinet to insist that the proposal in the Finance Bill on MPs taxation remain intact, and let the matter be taken to Parliament for consideration so that the citizens can see how their MPs vote on the matter.

Instead, we have been treated to a failure of leadership. The moment MPs threatened to block the Finance Bill, the clause that offended them was deleted.

Since then, we have been treated to the circus of some individual MPs, led by Johnstone ‘Gemstones’ Muthama, saying they are ready and willing to pay tax.

The Kangundo MP has gone further than the rhetoric of his colleagues and forwarded a cheque that the taxman has gladly accepted.

Yet even as he says that it is in order for Mr Muthama, or anybody else, to declare his taxable income and make good, the chief tax collector has been very silent on whether he intends to demand taxes from those MPs that remain defiant.

We have seen National Assembly Speaker Kenneth Marende provoke outrage with his insensitive and ill-timed remarks equating to charity and philanthropy the gesture by Mr Muthama.

The Speaker has also spent a considerable amount of time dismissing as irregular any tax payments made by MPs unless the law was first changed to remove the dispensation they enjoy.

Mr Marende ingeniously ignores the fact that the very proposal in the Finance Bill MPs had deleted was supposed to change that law so that all of them pay tax like everyone else.

The Speaker is being no more honest on this matter than the President is with his general comments on taxation and the Prime Minister with insensitive comments about how MPs have mortgages to take care of.

The latest charade is the Parliamentary Service Commission saying it will appoint an independent team to study the issue of MPs taxation.

Tell that to the birds. It is a time-honoured tactic that when you want to deflect attention on an issue, you appoint a committee.
No committee is required to reinstate the proposal that MPs pay tax. At the end of the day, the buck on this shameful episode must stop somewhere.

We have two principal leaders in this country, the President and the Prime Minister, who are also heads of their political parties in the Grand Collusion.

If President Kibaki and Prime Minister Odinga support taxation for MPs, themselves included, then they must cease all the dissembling and push through the required legislation.

They must stand above petty and shortsighted politics and stand with the people rather than be beholden to a handful of greedy MPs.


India’s Home minister Shivraj Patel and National Security Advisor M. K. Narayanan were quick to resign in the wake of the deadly three-day terrorist rampage that killed nearly 200 in Mumbai.

Were it in Kenya where such an outrage had occurred, you can be sure that no one would agree to shoulder responsibility and step aside.

The history of Kenya is littered with disasters, tragedies and other events or happenings that cry out for answers.

The list is endless and some of those events have been immortalised in history: Ngai Ndethya, Goldenberg, Tom Mboya, Bombolulu, Bomb Blast, J.M. Kariuki, Kikambala, St Kizito, Anglo Leasing, Wagalla massacre, Robert Ouko, Burnt Forest, Kiambaa Church, Artur Brothers, Standard Raid, and so on.

Note that with any of those outrages no Cabinet minister or other top official has voluntarily stepped aside.

If anything, the tendency has been for those responsible to pass the buck left, right and centre; or to resort to those hackneyed political threats of ‘my people are being finished’ variety.

We are likely to see the same if anyone suggests punishment for the profiteers that have sent the price of maize meal through the roof.

But then there has hardly been talk of any investigation into one of the economic crimes of the ages.

Submitted by thezangi
Posted December 09, 2008 04:53 PM

In addition to judges, MPs and PSC commissioners, another group that does not pay taxes are the Kenya Human Rights Commissioners who as you can see are also very quiet on this issue. Who will help Kenyans from all these wolves in sheep clothing?

Submitted by r.kariuki
Posted December 09, 2008

The MPs better realise that the average Kenyan today is more educated and enlightened and the more they refuse to pay taxes the more they become dishonourable. My greatest fear is when the hungry and impoverished Kenyan decide that enough is enough of this selfishness

Submitted by obiero76
Posted December 09, 2008

Mmmh!when the president talked of catching up with tax evaders,who was he reffering to? MPs,PM,Judges,AG,Kivuitu or Himself? Please catch up with them soon sir,good luck.That's Kenya for you the struggling lot.