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January 16, 2019

Greedy MPs don’t deserve one more shilling in pension


Thirdway Alliance Kenya is not shocked by the recent greedy move by MPs to increase their pension.

This is not a new phenomenon, as it has happened over and over again. What should really shock us is a citizenry that would refuse to endorse the Punguza Mizigo initiative, which proposes to not only reduce the number of 194 MPs but also to cap the cost of running Parliament to a conditionally maximum of Sh5 billion per year.

The Thirdway proposal has provided that this amount will only be reviewed upward by five per cent every six years.

The reasoning behind this is that the total parliamentary budget will have to be accommodated within the Sh5 billion, and the excess amounts, which are being expended on the parliamentary budget will be directed to development projects in the counties.

This will eventually tame MPs’ perennial greed as the Parliamentary Service Commission will only budget for all their operations within that budget. Such MPs are unacceptable and must be tamed using all means available to the wananchi.

Does Kenya really need to foot over Sh30 billion on a dead Parliament that has nothing to show, except dancing to the tune of the Executive? We recently demonstrated that the President erred in his State of the Nation address for showering praises on a dead and non-functional Legislature Parliament and pointed out that legislators are supposed to act absolutely on behalf of the citizens who elected them.

There is absolutely no justification to either the increase their pension or salary — or any other benefits — for the following reasons:

One, an MP’s job is a five-year contract. Parliamentarians are not on a permanent and pensionable job. The terms of their contract are strictly five years and the renewal can only be done by the voters.

That makes the job of an MP or Senator different from an ordinary civil servants’ job. Their employment is basically a contractual engagement and can only be classified in the same category as consultancy.

This brings us to the question; does the government pay pension to its consultants and contracts? The answer is a big No. MPs must not, therefore, be eligible for any single penny as pension. In fact, the laws allowing ex-members to draw pension should be scrapped as a matter of urgency.

Two, the 11th Parliament conspired and approved the stealing of Sh3.4 billion from the public. The MPs passed a law to authorise a one-off payment of Sh18.5 million to each of the MPs who would lose their seats. A total of 186 members lost their seats and it is the people of Kenya who are expected to foot this unnecessary bill.

Where on earth would any government or private employer pay such an amount to an employee whose term of contract has expired naturally?

The third reason is that Parliament is the most lucrative job in Kenya. It has over the years overstepped its role and has only focussed on huge salaries, car grants and low-interest mortgages for its members.

Fourth is that we have a lazy and conniving Parliament. In Thirdway’s press statement on Wednesday, we raised the following issues to demonstrate that Parliament has failed to live up to its role:

First, that Parliament failed miserably in its role as a public watchdog in all the three of its fundamental roles — representation, oversight and legislating.

For example, it is worth noting that the Auditor General completed audits for 2013-14, 2014-15, 2015-16, and 2016-17 financial years but Parliament has refused and failed to debate and approve them within the timelines provided for in Article 229 of our Constitution.

That failure alone denied the counties and their own constituents the rightful share of their allocation for development and services. A Parliament that failed to perform its representational and oversight role was as good as dead: Dead as a dodo bird. In fact, the 11th Parliament passed an unconstitutional law — The Division of Revenue Bill (No 8 ) of 2018 — under the watch of the President. It is time Kenyans invoked Article 104 of the Constitution and recalled all their parliamentarians over dismal performance.

Secondly, the last Parliament failed to lead in the fight against theft of public money that took place (and continues to happen even today) in all the 47 counties, ministries and various departments of the national government.

We remind President Uhuru Kenyatta that the fight against theft of public money will always be a dead exercise as long as audit findings are not taken seriously and enforced.

Why have the Office of the Auditor General, which is tasked with auditing use of public money, and when he makes incriminating findings, we ignore the holder and his office? Is government in conspiracy with those who steal public cash?

Third, that the last Parliament legislated to operationalise the new Constitution is not true at all. In fact, we are appalled by the delayed operationalisation of Article 204 of the Constitution relating to the Equalisation Fund.

The inaction by Parliament delayed the disbursement of this cash, denying residents of the marginalised counties access to the essential services that informed the necessity of Article 204. Parliament is engendering inequity in our country.

Fourth, Parliament has failed to condemn, as it should, the actions of MPs perpetrating violence in some regions of this country. Particular cases are those of Kapedo, Kainuk and Baragoi areas of Turkana and Samburu counties, respectively. Known legislators are publicly claiming those areas as a result of which violence is meted out to even the innocent, including the killing of three students and a driver in the Kapedo area of Turkana East last Friday.

If Parliament was worth its name, it would have by now summoned the Interior and Education Cabinet ministers as well as the Inspector General of the Police to explain the persistent killings, and why insecurity is denying other Kenyans the right to education.

We expect Parliament to question the following politicians on their role in those conflict areas: Baringo Senator Gideon Moi, Tiaty MP William Kamket and Samburu North MP Alois Lentoimaga, among others, as well as the role of our security forces on the ground. How can a vehicle be sprayed with bullets outside a KDF camp? Why did our security forces refuse to respond to the call for rescue from occupants of that vehicle?

In our manifesto last year, we proposed that the President’s salary, being the highest paid elected official, be set at Sh500,000. We are against any intention to spend an additional penny on MPs.

Kenyans may visit our website and endorse the Punguza Mizigo initiative.




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