Entries from November 12th, 2012

Elections 2013: What Has Changed since 2007

Posted by on 12th November 2012

Categories: Uncategorized

Not so long ago Kenya was seen as a bastion of peace and stability in the region, with working institutions and a more or less functional democracy especially when compared with our neighbours. However the 2007 election and the violence that followed has called this view of Kenya into question. As a consequence the lead up to the 2013 election has been filled with speculation by both Kenyans and the international community about the country’s ability to hold an election that is not only free and fair, but that one that is peaceful as well.

Though Kenya has recovered somewhat since the 2007/2008 post election violence. Somewhat because there are still several internally displaced persons. The economy though better than in the aftermath of the 2008 election is still in a slump. Ethnic tensions are still high as evidenced by violence parts of Coast, North Eastern, and Nyanza, and though we have a new constitution there have been several attempts by parliament to water down the provisions.

In addition the reform of crucial institutions is proceeding with varied results. The reform of the election monitoring body, the Independent Election and Boundaries Commission (IEBC), and the Judiciary are going relatively well (though not as smoothly as one would hope) while reform of the disciplined forces has been going less well.

The Citizen Pathway Group, made up of Kenyan professionals and business leaders, have done an interesting analysis comparing the situation of the country and its various institutions in the period preceding the 2007 election and the situation of the country now.

Of Kenyans the group makes the finding that, “Kenyans remain with tribe as their main source of identity, especially in regard to politics and elections…In 2007 Kenyans were conditioned to believe if their man did not win, all was lost.” In the lead up to the 2013 election the report points out that this is still the case, and that poverty and high levels of disenfranchisement make the youth particularly vulnerable to being used for politically instigated crimes. However the report highlights that there is an emergent voting population that is more politically informed and that have the ability to make better choices.

With regards to the leaders the group writes, “the defining characteristic of leaders in Kenya continues to be the pursuit of power at any cost. Impunity remains a live and well amongst our leaders. The investigations on the 2008 violent crimes including by the ICC, while important, may have made politicians seek to be cleverer on how to cover their tracks in inciting people and organising militia. The strong rivalry between Raila Odinga and Uhuru Kenyatta is of particular concern.”

The report also further highlights the fact that leaders seem to determined to form winning coalitions regardless of issues of, “integrity, reform credentials or past political difference” stating that, “the object appears simply to win.” The report cites the strong the leadership and integrity provisions in the constitutions as a remedy to this but is also cognizant of the attempts to water these provision down; and points out the tension that exists between leaders and citizens with regards to implementation of the constitution with regards to leadership.

According to the report Kenya faces pretty much the same challenges in the lead up the 2013 election as it faced in 2007 i.e. negative ethnicity, institutional weakness, and a leadership deficit. However the central question remains, “will Kenyans recognise the challenge and rise to meet it? Will they resort to the usual methods for winning political power in spite of attempts at reform? Will they elect capable leaders with the integrity required to focus on the desired positive future?”

Your thoughts?

On the Delayed Arrival of the BVR Kits

Posted by on 6th November 2012

Categories: Uncategorized

So the Biometric Voter Registration (BVR) Kits have arrived in the country, and not a moment to soon, the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission was already making plans to revert to manual registration in the event that the kits arrived later than November 5th.

“Is there a plan B? Yes there’s a plan B. We’ll go back to our manual register. We have a register of 12.4 million people. We will update that one. But that’s the worst case scenario and I’m hoping we don’t have to get there,” stated the IEBC Chair, Isaack Hassan, last week. As it turns out a plan B for voter registration will not be necessary. The first batch of 8,200 BVR kits arrived in the country on Thursday, with the rest expected to arrive on Saturday. The IEBC will now embark on the training of 29,000 clerks to use the kits.

The acquisition of BVR kits has been mired in controversy from the start; from a faulty tendering process in which 18 of the 29 bids were disqualified, and the chosen tender disputed, delayed payments, accusations between various government officials about a plan to delay the elections over the BVR kits. The controversy surrounding the acquisition of the BVR kits will have costs in terms of both time and money.

The delay in the delivery of the BVR kits will definitely have implications on the voter registration process. Last week the IEBC announced that the voter registration process would be delayed by two weeks. The voter registration process that was meant to take place between the 1st and the 30th of the November will now take place between 12th November and 11th December (and the IEBC Chair has indicated that there will be no extensions should voters not register within the period).

In addition the government will again have to ask Parliament to change the election law to reduce the number of days required for the inspection of the final voters roll. The inspection period will be reduced from 30 to 15 days and the period of gazettement from 30 to 21 days. This is not the first reduction in the time period for inspection and gazettement of the voters roll, both deadlines have been reduced before with the inspection period being reduced from 60 days to 30 days and gazettement from 45 to 30 days.

In terms of cost taxpayers will be required to pay in excess of 9.6 billion shillings for the BVR kits, whose price was earlier estimated at 3.9 billion shillings. While there may be a collective sight of relief over the delivery of the BVR kits, surely the government could have done better to save tax payers money, as well as ensure sufficient time for voter registration and due diligence.

On the flip-flop on Multi-State Agency Vetting of Election Aspirants

Posted by on 1st November 2012

Categories: Uncategorized

The Kenyan public is no stranger to political u-turns on implementation of constitution, particularly when the provisions of the constitution are politically inconvenient for the MPs i.e. the date of the next election, the 2/3 gender principle, MPs setting their own salaries. On one particular constitutional provision, however, there have been so many twists and turns that at this point the prospect of effective implementation seems like wishful thinking. The controversy laden provision is on leadership and integrity and the vetting of the election aspirants to see if they meet the leadership and integrity criteria as set out in Chapter 6 of the constitution.

In light of the enactment of the weak mutilated Leadership and Integrity Act – in which the Cabinet and MPs removed provisions for the vetting of election aspirants by state agencies – the announcement made earlier this week that more than a dozen state agencies and independent offices would be undertaking a process that would ensure the vetting of all aspirants intending to run for elective positions in the next election was a welcome one.

According to an article in the press 8 state agencies (The Commission on Administrative Justice, the Commission on Revenue Allocation, Kenya National Commission on Human Rights, the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission, the Commission on Implementation of the Constitution, The Judicial Service Commission and the Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission) stated their intention to compile a information on all the candidates seeking elected positions in the 2013 election. The aim of the exercise being to review the candidates’ ability to meet the leadership and integrity standards set out in Chapter 6. They would then submit the list to the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission to make a review on eligibility of the aspirant based on available information.

As one would expect the move by the state agencies to vet all the aspirants running for elective positions in 2013 drew almost immediate response from various quarters, and not without result.

Less than a week after the initial statement was made the state agencies seem to have flip-flopped on their stated intention to vet all candidates for elective positions. From an article in the Standard it appears that the vetting process will now exclude all those aspirants who have a pending court cases; the vetting processes will also exclude those with cases before the International Criminal Court (ICC).

In a perfect world it would be presumably because the integrity of those with pending court cases including those with cases at the ICC has been so called into question that there should be no issue of whether or not they are eligible to run for elective positions, let alone for the position of President.

However this is not the explanation proffered by the agencies that will carry out the vetting. It would interesting to know why the multi-agency vetting would exclude from its vetting process those election aspirants with pending courts cases, particularly those with cases at the ICC, your thoughts?

CIC responds to MPs Query on Commissioners Salaries

Posted by on 30th October 2012

Categories: Uncategorized

The constitution requires, implicitly if not explicitly, that parliament and the Commission for the Implementation of the Constitution (CIC) work together to implement it. Particularly given that it is the CIC’s role to “monitor, facilitate and oversee the development of legislation and administrative procedures” required for the implementation of the constitution and it is Parliament’s job to enact such legislation.
Basically the CIC’s main task is the provision of policy and legislative guidance and oversight to parliament on the implementation of the new constitution. However the relationship between the CIC and Parliament has always been somewhat fraught. Maybe it’s the tension that exists between two institutions meant to work together but one institution wants to stay the same, while the other institution is a vehicle for change.
We’ve seen the CIC and Parliament butt heads over the watering down of the Leadership and Integrity Bill, the Implementation of the 2/3 gender principle, the date of the next election, Parliament’s passing of key constitutional bills without consulting the CIC and more recently on the issue of the MPs send off package. With a section of MPs querying the both the CIC’s function and the remuneration of commissioners of the CIC as well as other independent bodies.
Below is an excerpt from the CIC’s statement in response to the Parliamentarians statements on the pay of commissioners as a justification for their 2 billion shilling send off package:
“The Commission for the Implementation of the Constitution is concerned by the pattern of unwarranted attacks on the Commission and on the person of its Chairperson by a section of parliamentarians on account of the CIC position on a number issues. The latest attack arose from CIC’s position the move by MPs to fix and increase their allowances in an unconstitutional manner. The conduct by MPs is unacceptable and must not be entertained by Kenyans…”
“We would like to reiterate our position that it is not the mandate of Parliament to determine their own remuneration. Their diversionary argument on amounts of money paid to the chairperson of the CIC or any other person is a deliberate attempt to divert attention from their unconstitutional actions. CIC remuneration was arrived at as is provided in law enacted by Parliament. The discussion on the salaries of all state officers in all offices is a legitimate discussion that must take place and is the core mandate of the Salaries and Remuneration Commission…”
“CIC wishes to remind the people of Kenya that all State officers, including MPs are not exempt from the rule of law and the Constitution is Supreme and binds all. In this respect any attempt by parliament to blackmail state organs by threatening not pass any laws unless MPs’ demands are met is both unconstitutional and an abuse of power…” (the full statement can be found on the CIC’s website here).
Parliament is currently on recess and is yet to respond to the Commission’s statement.
Your thoughts?

2012 Voter Registration – Can the IEBC Avoid the Pitfalls of the 2010 Referendum?

Posted by on 25th October 2012

Categories: Uncategorized

The voter registration exercise starts and runs right through the month of November.  As we speak, the long awaited Biometric Voter Registration (BVR) kits necessary for the exercise arrive later this month and voter education is underway.  While these two features are important cogs in the election process, Kenyans should pay more attention to the actual number of voters registered as this influences the quality of the election. A sound voter registration exercise is the precursor to a successful election.

To get a better sense of the risks and challenges of the voter registration process for the 2013 election, Mzalendo has analysed the performance of voter registration at a constituency level for the 2010 referendum, looking at actual numbers of voters registered compared to the number of people eligible to vote extrapolated from the 2009 census data.

When compared to a national level of registration of some 61.5% with a broadly even gender split, the performance in a number of constituencies was surprising, and in a number cases worrying.  These results fell into two broad categories:

1) More people were registered to vote in some constituencies than the 2009 Census suggests is technically possible

There are a number of constituencies where the number of people registered to vote was significantly HIGHER that the maximum number of people eligible to vote (as extrapolated from the census).  Clearly such instances are deeply worrying.  Significant results include:

Mvita – 65,769 voters were registered, extrapolating the 2009 census data gives a figure for the maximum number of eligible voters as being 49,515.  In other words, 16,000 more people registered to vote than was technically possible.  The picture is even more interesting when you look at the gender splits:  98% of eligible women and 169% of eligible men were said to have registered

Kisumu Town West – 90,069 voters were registered, extrapolating the 2009 census data gives a figure for the maximum number of eligible voters as being 79,387.  That means more than 10,000 more people registered to vote than was technically possible.  As with Mvita, there is an interesting difference with the gender splits  97% of eligible women and 129% of eligible men were said to have registered

2) There are significant differences in the registration rates of the different genders in the same constituency

Both of the greater than 100% registration rate examples cited above showed significant gender bias, with significantly more men than women registering.  This trend was seen in a number of other constituencies, including:

Westlands – 91% of eligible men, 62% of eligible women registered
South Mugirango – 61% of eligible men, 45% of eligible women registered
Kamukunji – 87% of eligible men, 55% of eligible women registered
Bomachoge – 79% of eligible men, 56% of eligible women registered

And there were a few instances where the gender bias skewed the other way, though these tended to be in constituencies with very low registration levels, for instance:
Ijara – 38% of eligible women, 25% of eligible men registered.

An unsurprising, but still important further insight that came from this analysis was the very low levels of registration that took place in a number of constituencies, particularly those which are rural and arid. These included:

Mandera West (15% of eligible voters registered)
Mandera Central (18% of eligible voters registered)
Turkana North (20% of eligible voters registered)
Lagdera (19% of eligible voters registered)

As a result of this work Mzalendo has three questions for the IEBC:

1) What steps are you taking to ensure that there are no instance of inflated voter numbers?
2) How will you ensure that where possible the gender bias in registrations in some constituencies is reduced
3) How will you work to increase the levels of voter registration, particularly in the arid, rural constituencies?

A Note About the Data

In order to build a view on the number of eligible voters in each of the constituencies by year we took the following approach.

We took the 2009 census data broken down by each age banding (by year) split by gender and by constituency.  This wasn’t easy, as we weren’t able to obtain a soft copy of the data.  Instead we had to buy a hard-copy of the census report, scan the 200+ pages, run the output through OCR and then manually fix any lines of data that had not been read correctly.

We have uploaded a copy of this file should anyone else be interested in using it – please find it here:

Having got this constituency level data we then set about using it to establish the size of the potential registered voter population for each constituency.

We did this, very simply, by looking at the following population cohorts:

2009 Potential Voter Population: All 18+ in 2009 Census
2010 Potential Voter Population: All 17+ in 2009 Census
2012 Potential Voter Population: All 15+ in 2009 Census

A couple of caveats:

1)   This does not factor for migration between constituencies
2)   This does not factor for the death rate of the higher age cohorts over these years.  The strong youth bias in population size reduces the impact of this and by taking the population however the age cut-offs for each year reflect the census data of 28th August.  Voter registration will be taking place in November, so there will be a tranche of people turning 18 in September and October 2012 which will at least partially offset this mortality.

Whilst these mean that it is not possible to get a perfect view of the eligible voters in each constituency, it is sufficiently robust for some of the huge discrepancies identified to be certain.

In order to get the relative % of registered voters to actual eligible voters, these figures were then compared to the constituency level data on registered voters split by age, taken from the report: INTERIM INDEPENDENT ELECTORAL COMMISSION (IIEC) VOTERS’ REGISTRATION STATISTICS – GENDER AGE DISTRIBUTION 2010 BY CONSTITUENCY.  You can see a copy here:

This has been an intensely manual process, and should you spot any errors in the files used please do let us know so that we can rectify.

Who’s to blame for the decadence we see in Parliament: MPs or voters?

Posted by on 22nd October 2012

Categories: Uncategorized

There seems to be a lot of the absurdity emerging from parliament recently. From MPs defending a 2 billion shilling take home package to be drawn from taxpayers pockets at a time when the country can scarcely afford it (The government is in massive debt, the national deficit is as high as ever, and youth unemployment stands at 65%) to the latest scandal in which Makadara MP, Gideon Mbuvi, is accused of the slapping the Attorney General a matter currently being investigated by Parliament’s Powers and Privilege Committee.

But who is to blame for the state of Parliament, is it the Parliamentarians or the voters?

A few days ago there was an interesting piece in the Daily Nation in which voters were blamed for the decadence that we now see in Parliament and among our Parliamentarians. The kind of decadence that allows MPs despite their egregious behaviour to get away with little or no repercussions to their standing in the house.

The article was titled, “Kenyan MPs not bad boys and girls: it’s voters who actually spoilt them” I wonder how many Kenyan voters would agree with this statement.

The author of the article, Charles Onyango Obbo, posits that Kenyans are getting exactly what they voted for. And that through our voting patterns, we the voters, have created a situation in which the MPs have become a more important constituent in the election then the regular voter. Making the 222 MPs more influential in an election than 40 million voters. The consequence is that presidential candidates are afraid to speak to the excesses of their fellow parliamentarians for fear alienating them and losing the potential votes from the MPs region and area of influence. This makes it preferable for presidential candidates to seek approval of parliamentarians rather than the approval of voters.

In our elections which are determined by a majority vote it follows that the votes 40 million + voters should hold more sway than that of 222 MPs and that the wishes of millions should out weigh the demands of 222 MPs. However voting along regional and tribal lines, instead of on issues and values creates a situation in which MPs are at a premium because of their ability to pull votes based on their ethnic affiliation or regional.

Are Kenyan voters through their voting patterns, to blame for the current state of Parliament?

On the ‘Gender Penalty’ that Could Cost Taxpayers Kshs. 4 Billion Annually

Posted by on 20th October 2012

Categories: Uncategorized

Given our context that the implementation of the two third gender principle would run into problems was inevitable. Anything involving a massive change of the status quo is usually problematic (currently women make up less than a tenth of the parliament and implementation of the two third gender rule would change this dramatically).

Until relatively recently the term ‘gender penalty’ is one that neither I, nor most Kenyans, had heard, on a personal level I wasn’t even aware that such a term existed. However last week the Chairperson of the Commission on Revenue Allocation, Micah Cheserem, advised Kenyans to elect more women to office to avoid being subject to the ‘gender penalty’.

So what is the gender the penalty exactly? According to reports the gender penalty refers to the additional money that Kenyans will have to pay to those nominated to the to the Parliament, the Senate and county assemblies if the two thirds gender principle enshrined in Articles 81 (1) (b), 175 (c), 177 (b), and 197 (1) of the constitution is not met (The Articles require that not more than two-thirds of the members of an elective public bodies be of the same gender.)

According to the calculations of the Commission on Revenue Allocation it will cost taxpayers an additional 4 billion shillings per year, to meet the salaries of those nominated to fill the possible gender gap. The spokesperson for the Commission on Revenue Allocation is quoted as stating “We will be nominating a lot of people who are not representing anybody but are there as a constitutional requirement, and that will mean a higher wage bill. The Commission on Revenue Allocation is concerned because the 15% to counties might end up paying salaries at the expense of development. That is why we should have elected women and not nominated ones.”

Effectively letting it be known to Kenyans that if we do not elect women there will be a price to be paid and it will not be cheap. And this against the backdrop of the Finance Minister’s warning to Kenyans that additional taxes would have to be raised to meet cost of the pay rise for teachers, lecturers, and doctors. Effectively the lack of political will to find a way to implement the two the third gender principle in a cost effective manner will cost the taxpayer 4 billion shillings per year.

What are your thoughts on the gender penalty, and the implementation of the two third gender principle?

The Right to Run for Political Office vs. The Leadership & Integrity Requirement

Posted by on 18th October 2012

Categories: Uncategorized

The constitution enshrines both the right to run for political office and the standards for leadership and integrity.

In Article 38 the constitution provides, “Every adult citizen has the right, without unreasonable restrictions, to be a candidate for public office…and, if elected, to hold office.” The whole of the Chapter 6 provides the principles for leadership and integrity for those in, and those who aspire to state or public office. And in Article 10 the constitution lists integrity as one of the national values and principles of governance that bind all State organs, State officers, public officers.

Under ordinary circumstances the two provisions i.e. the right to run for public office and the requirement of integrity, would not be in conflict, nor would there be an issue about which provision supersedes the other. In fact it seems almost intuitive that the right to run for public office would be contingent on the candidates meeting the integrity requirements as enshrined in the constitution i.e. that one’s ability to run for public office, would be subject to the person in question meeting the constitutional standards on leadership and integrity.

However we are not in ordinary circumstances, two of the country’s presidential aspirants will also be facing trial at the International Criminal Court (ICC) for alleged committing crimes against humanity during the 2007/2008 post election violence. In these extra-ordinary circumstances, (extra-ordinary because Kenya will be the first country in the world that has ICC suspects simultaneously facing charges and running for President) two schools of thought have emerged.

The first school that the two presidential candidates are innocent until proven guilty and therefore should be able to exercise the right to run for public office. The second is that by virtue of being ICC suspects the integrity of the two aspirants is so called into question that they are prohibited from exercising the right to run for public office by virtue of the requirements of integrity enshrined in Chapter 6 and Article 10 of the constitution.

None of the mandated bodies i.e. Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission, the body in charge of the elections, nor the Constitution Implementation Commission, the body charged with overseeing constitutional implementation have given definitive direction on whether a person facing criminal charges, or crimes against humanity can still exercise the right to run for public office.

Last week the Attorney General petitioned the Supreme Court to give an advisory opinion on the integrity requirements in the constitution vis a vis the right to run for public office. The Supreme Court is yet to give its advisory. Parliament has attempted to water down the constitution’s requirements on leadership and integrity by passing a weak Leadership and Integrity law. However the Judiciary has taken a pretty strong stand with regards to application of the constitution’s leadership and integrity provisions as evidenced by the judicial ruling nullifying the nomination of Chairperson of the Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission, and the tribunal ruling in the case of the Deputy Chief Justice. So one hopes that a similar standard will applied across the board.

In any case we’ll be watching.

On MPs Decision to Fight for their Right to Sh2 Billion Take Home Package

Posted by on 12th October 2012

Categories: Members of Parliament

Just yesterday to the collective relief of the nation the President refused to assent to a Finance Bill that would have allowed the Parliamentarians to take home 9.3 million kshs each at the end of their current term.

However,  if we (the public) thought that was the end of the story, it may have been a case of misplaced optimism. MPs are not taking the President’s refusal to assent to the Finance Bill lying down, and have vowed to fight for their rights (one wonders if they will be taking strike action). Nominated MP Rachel Shebesh has been quoted as stating that Members of Parliament, “are not going to be ashamed of fighting for our rights, our rights are enshrined, just like the rights of commissioners and other public officers.”

Yes MPs have rights, just as other Kenyans have rights, and these rights are enshrined in law. However, it should be noted that MP Rachel Shebesh fails to mention the exact right that is being violated by the President’s refusal to assent to a 2 billion shilling send off package for MPs. Also our MPs being some of the highest paid members of parliament in the world it’s hard identify how the denial of 2 billion gratuity violates any MPs rights, especially when that right is being exercised at the expense of 40 million other Kenyans.

Other Members of Parliament have used the amount that commissioners in independent commissions earn as justification for their send off package. Bura MP, Abdi Nuh, is quoted as stating,“MPs have been condemned for taking home Sh3 million or Sh9 million at times…how much is the chairman of the CIC and other commissioners paid in terms of gratuity and what is the basis of that calculation?”

This argument is disingenuous as the MPs could have protested the salaries of commissioners upon the establishment of the commission also how much commissioners of independent commissions earn is hardly justification for a 2 billion shilling gratuity package for MPs. Two wrongs do not make a right if MPs have a problem with the salaries of commissioners this should be raised with the Salaries and Remuneration Commission, whose duty it is to review and set salaries of all state officers.

In fighting the President’s refusal to assent to the Finance Bill Parliament has two constitutional options: to amend the Bill in light of the President’s reservations, or to pass the Bill a second time without any amendments. If Parliament amends the Bill to accommodate the President’s reservations, the Speaker shall resubmit it to the President for assent. However if Parliament chooses to ignore the President’s reservations and chooses to pass the Bill without amendments the decision will have to be supported by the votes of at least two-thirds of members of the National Assembly i.e. 148 MPs.

Despite, the existence of these constitutional options, MPs seem to be taking a more offbeat if not unprecedented approach to addressing the President’s refusal to assent to the Finance Bill. MPs have stated their intention to hold up the enactment of the Finance Bill if the President does not assent to the Bill in its current form. Never mind the negative implications that this will have on the country, the government and parliament itself…so once again Parliament’s actions raise the issue of whether the interest of 222 MPs will trump the interests of 40 million Kenyans.

On MPs 2 Billion Shilling Exit Package

Posted by on 11th October 2012

Categories: Uncategorized

The President has refused to assent to the MPs proposed 2 billion shilling exit package, on grounds of its unconstitutionality, its economic implications, and probably its pure ridiculousness. The new constitution removes from Parliament the responsibility of setting salaries for state officers and vested this power in the Salaries Remuneration Commission. A body set up to meet the overwhelming demand of the public for an institution, independent of the influence of parliament, to set the salaries of State officers i.e. the President, the Cabinet, MPs etc.

Article 230 of the constitution lists as the one of the duties of the Salaries & Remuneration Commission, “to set and regularly review the remuneration and benefits of all State officers.” The implication of this clause in lay speak is that MPs can no longer set their own salaries this responsibility is vested in the Salaries and Remuneration.

Seriously one of the most appealing aspects of having a new constitution is the fact that the constitution prohibits Parliamentarians from arbitrarily increasing their salaries. An occurrence that happened with alarming frequency in the previous dispensation, in both the Moi and Kibaki administrations, making our parliamentarians amongst the highest paid in the world. To quote an article in the Telegraph, “In 2003 Kenyan MPs, quadrupled their pay as their first order of business after the 2002 election, and they have since tried to increase their income far above the rate of inflation on three occasions. In 2010 they voted themselves voted for themselves a 25% pay rise saying that new taxes on their income were leaving them near bankrupt.”

However ignoring both constitutionality, and rule of law generally, for the second time in six months our Members of Parliament manipulated legislation in an attempt to increase their salaries. On Thursday night Members of Parliament covertly added to the Finance Bill provisions that will give each member of the August House a bonus of the Kshs. 9.3 million at the end of their term. Total cost to the taxpayer 2 billion shillings. This action was taken against a back drop of strikes by public servants in which the government claimed severally that there was no money in budget to increase the salaries, and improve working conditions of what many Kenyans consider essential workers i.e. doctors and teachers.

The Salaries and Remuneration Commission condemned the actions of Parliament as illegal and vowed to fight the action. However few other state institutions came out against the move by MPs to increase their salaries. Where was the Attorney General, in his role as “principal legal adviser” should he not have been advising the National Assembly of the illegality of its action? Where was the Commission on Implementation of the Constitution, whose role it is to oversee the implementation of the constitution? Where were Parliament’s Justice and Legal Affairs Committee, and Constitutional Implementation Oversight Committee or should we presume that both Parliamentary Committees being comprised of Members of Parliament were caught in a conflict interest situation in which they will predictably chose their collective interest as MPs over the interest of the public?

Meanwhile there is nothing abstract about the damage that the proposed MPs exit package would have inflicted on the regular taxpayers. The money to pay the MPs would have been raised by increasing the tax burden on regular Kenyans, through taxation on mobile money transfers, banking transactions, and raising taxes on consumer goods etc. From its actions the government and Parliament, the people’s representatives, seem intent perpetuating the exact type of poverty that it is supposed to stamping out. One thing is for sure the MPs that voted for the exorbitant exit package, will be campaigning for our votes and we vote them back into government at our own financial peril because as taxpayers we will definitely be footing the bill.