Friday, May 10, 2013



 By Jerry Okungu
Nairobi, Kenya
May 8, 2013

One week can be a long time in politics. In the Kenyan situation, that one week can be even longer because many things can change over that time.

Nine days since Senator Mutula Kilonzo died, the people of Kenya have shifted gear. Cabinet nominations and their attendant vetting process have been relegated to the back banners. Nobody talks about anything else except to speculate how the Senator died.

What perhaps has been competing for news with Mutula’s death have been the wrangles over parliamentary committees between the ruling Jubilee Coalition and  the Minority CORD coalition in the august house and of course the MPs baying for the blood of the  Chairman of the Salaries Remuneration Commission for slashing their salaries from  Ksh 840,000 to 530,000 per month.

These two issues have been so much in the minds of the elected members of parliament that discussing the brutal killings in Bungoma, Busia, and Garissa has been a boring task.
 Of particular concern to Kenyans is the persistent demand by MPs and County representatives to demand higher salaries even as fellow Kenyans go hungry in the slums in villages. In fact, listening to MPs talking in parliament and at funerals, one gets the feeling that this country is under the spell of some demon out to drive it into a civil strife.

Last weekend, some MPs from Nyanza and Rift Valley made very dangerous remarks when they gathered for a church funds drive in poverty stricken Kapsabet in Nandi County of Rift Valley. The meeting was attended by Homa Bay MP, Peter Kaluma who promised to triple the MPS’ salaries after disbanding the Salaries Remuneration Commission. In fact Kaluma demanded a salary of Ksh 2 million per month because according to him, he had left a job where his salary was Ksh 1 million per month. This remark was made in front of mourners who live on less than  30 dollars a month.

Other MPs at the meeting who supported his demand were Elijah Lagat  of Lesumei, Oscar Sudi of Kapseset, Charles Gimose of Hamisi, Zipporah Kering of Nandi County and Dr. Robert Bukose of Endebes.

The only MP present who had the common decency to differ with his colleagues over this salary issue was Hon Stephen Bitok of Mosop who stated categorically that high salaries should not be the priority of elected leaders when so many Kenyans are suffering at this moment in time.

The level at which elected leaders have reached with their demands can only mean one thing; they do not care about the welfare of Kenyans and the country. In their mind, the country could burn to hell so long as their greed can be satisfied.

This mentality leaves us with two choices: to ask the coalition leaders that include President Uhuru Kenyatta, William Ruto and Raila Odinga to read the riot act for the ring leaders if they cannot have the decency to know the difference between what is moral and what is not.  Party leaders must take charge and provide leadership both inside and outside parliament. Those who went to parliament like Peter Kaluma thinking that parliament is a bottomless money minting pit must be shown the door so that they can go back to their former jobs where they earned Ksh 1 million a month.

The second choice is for Kenyans who love this country to prepare to disband the current parliament so that the people of Kenya can reclaim their country and sovereignty. We did not elect these people to go and run this country down. Four hundred Kenyans cannot hold the country at ransom simply because we elected them.

President Uhuru Kenyatta cannot let a few elected leaders squander the good will Kenyans have given him since his encounter with Daniel Owira at the Drama Festival in Mombasa. Owira the slum boy impressed Uhuru Kenyatta so much that since then the President has invited him to State House together with his relatives and adopted him as one of his sons.

 President Kenyatta’s gesture has no parallel in Kenya’s political history. No president, dead or alive has gone out of his way to adopt a slum child and promise to educate him to university. All we have had are populist leaders who have preferred to give handouts to youths in slums for purposes of political campaigns. This time round, the President confounded friends and foes by adopting a child, not from his tribe but of the tribe that has never voted for him.

If elected MPs and County representatives want to be taken seriously, they must use their eyes and ears to digest what President Uhuru Kenyatta is saying and doing and emulate the same. If the President is saying that our public wage bill is the highest in Africa, elected leaders worth their salt should get worried and find a solution to the problem not compound it. If the President has come to the rescue of a slum child and adopted him, elected leaders should follow that example and support such initiatives.

I’m not saying that elected leaders should rush to slums and villages to adopt poor children. Rather, they should pass good laws that will direct more funds to alleviate poverty in these poor neighborhoods rather that craving to line their pockets with public funds. This is the only way to avert a social revolution in Kenya.