Monday, 7 May 2012


On 19TH April, 2012, the Finance Minister, Hon. Njeru Githae, covertly introduced two amendments to the Finance Bill. The 1st amendment was to alter the National Assembly Remuneration Act in order increase the pay of the Deputy Speaker of Parliament and the members of the Chairmen’s panel by an additional Kshs.2.4million per annum to be paid as Parliamentary Responsibility Allowance, backdated to 1st January 2006. An additional Kshs.1.2 million per annum, demarcated as Parliamentary Responsibility allowance is to be paid to the Parliamentary Service Commissioner, also back dated to 1st January 2006.
The 2nd amendment was to increase the benefits of all the members of the National Assembly by increasing their severance allowance from the Kshs 300,000 per year to Kshs 744,000 per year, multiplied over the years of service. These two amendments were passed, without objection within a matter of minutes.
It is with deep sadness, regret and rage that I tell you today, that these amendments have received presidential assent.
It’s the classic and may I say chronic case of parliamentarians increasing their own salaries, via acts of parliament, swiftly and without objection from any quarters to the detriment of all Kenyans. Already, our MPs earn salaries and allowances significantly higher than other MPs around the world, higher than even more developed nations that have higher GDPs. Add onto that, they as a collective had to be forced to pay tax, a matter that indicates their own lack of nationalism and rejection of citizen responsibility. But what adds insult to injury is the fact that they would pass a bill in direct contravention of the Supreme Law of Kenya, a law they swore to uphold barely 2 years ago.

In fact, in 2011, to avoid the financial implications of paying tax, the then Finance Minister, Hon. Uhuru Kenyatta, introduced the Appropriations Bill, which sought to utilize the National Disasters Contingency fund in order to pay tax to KRA on behalf of the Parliamentary Service Commission. Can you imagine a government determined to pay tax to itself on behalf of 222 MPs to the tune of 2.4 billion kshs? It’s outrageous!

What is so distressing is not just the utter selfishness of such acts, but the nerve to ignore laws put in place to govern this nation. These amendments are ultra vires, that is, in direct contravention of Article 230 of the constitution, which places the responsibility of salary reviews into the hands of the Salaries and Remunerations Commission.

When the doctors, nurses and healthcare workers went on strike demanding better pay, they were told to wait for the Salaries and Remunerations Commission. In fact the government at the time, through the Finance Ministry claimed that they had no money. Now this same ministry has found money, enough to pay out millions of shillings back dated to 2006, not only to the current sitting MPs but even those we voted out in the previous election!

Is the Kenya constitution just a piece of toilet paper that these parliamentarians can use and discard at will? What about our votes, do they not count at all? When we voted out previous leaders, we wanted to put an end to their service, now that they no longer serve Kenyans why should they be paid? If I get fired, I won’t receive a severance pay 6 years down the line!

This action has led Jayne Mati, a private citizen and member of the Mars Group Kenya to file petition 175 at the constitutional division of the High Court of Kenya. Needless to say, this petition is of grave national importance. Our nation is plagued by poor leadership, and we the ordinary citizens had hoped that a new constitution would bring an end to the plunder we have endured since independence. But with impunity, no consideration whatsoever and complete disregard to our supreme law, the MPs, the Deputy Speaker and even the President flouted this precious document by this act of parliament.

We have a rogue parliament; there is no other way to describe it. As I write this, the nation’s attention is captured by the matter of MPs defecting from political parties and creating or joining others without giving up their seats in parliament. This country, through its so called legislators, has turned into a lawless state, where every law that is not convenient to the desires and whims of a politician is flouted, ignored, broken, dismissed. Our constitution is not respected; our legislative institutions are abused by ALL of them.

According to article 116 of the constitution; “An act of Parliament that confers a direct pecuniary interest on members of Parliament shall not come into force until after the next general election of members of Parliament”. So this current parliament cannot, by law, increase their salaries, benefits or severance pay.

It is time the citizens of this country truly woke up to their political responsibility and helped put an end to this madness. I am truly irked to no end by the laxity I see, and general political apathy among the electorate. Why do the citizens of this nation believe that their responsibility towards good governance starts and ends with a vote? More irritatingly, why do you believe that by voting in different people you have brought change to Kenya? Didn’t you vote in new MPs in the last election? And yet now your taxpayers’ money will go to pay more money to the MPs you voted out, and the ones you voted in, in direct contravention of the constitution! Its time we woke up from this neurotic slumber.

Article 1 of the constitution clearly states that “All Sovereign powers belong to the people of Kenya and shall be exercised only in accordance with this constitution.”  It is not just your pockets that are at stake in this particular matter, but the very essence of being Kenyan, who you are, your identity and your very citizenry. Clearly, these MPs have declared war on justice, and on the sovereignty of our nation, and its time we fought back. Our nation cannot, and will not be held to ransom by a handful of people who by their actions demonstrate such a high disregard for our Supreme Law and institutions that their actions can even be interpreted as treacherous. Kenyans, petition 175 is of great national importance, and crucial to the future of our country.

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