Written by Joe Kambo
In Kenya, the headlines are dominated by politics. Every week, a new scandal emerges that is more scandalous than the previous one. Currently, the country is abuzz over the failure of MPs to pay tax on their allowances. This is after the new Constitution expressly states that no public official is exempt from tax.
Previously, they had enjoyed tax-free allowances and never missed an opportunity to increase their salaries.
Kenya is a third world country that has a poverty rate of approximately 50 percent. It also has politicians that are among the best compensated legislators in the world. According to the Economist, Kenyan MPs earn about $ 160,000 per year.
They are now fighting tooth and nail against taxation until their current term ends, offering arguments ranging from, “we had a gentleman’s agreement with the President” to “we have pressing financial obligations that we cannot meet if we are taxed.”
Never mind the fact that the ordinary citizen pays taxes. Honestly, this self-absorbed and selfish group of human beings makes me sick. However, hope lies in two MP’s that do pay their taxes; Peter Kenneth and Johnston Muthama (God bless their souls).
Now, did I mention that most of Kenya is corrupt to the core? Corruption an accepted way of life, and there seems to be a general admiration of wealth, despite the source. I do take solace in the fact that there is a new Chief Justice with reformist credentials and that there is a slow but genuine push against the forces of impunity.
The President, Mwai Kibaki, is in my humble opinion is a lame duck, and so is the Prime Minister, Raila Odinga. All we get from them are empty promises and roadside declarations of fighting corruption. The President appears to have no control over his cabinet and his occasional, “corruption will be dealt with severely” rants ring hollow.
This is a man who called a press conference to declare that he has only one wife, never mind the fact that the country was dealing with drought and famine at the time.
Less than two weeks ago, it emerged that Ministry Of Education officials misappropriated 4.5 billion Kenyan shillings (about 50 million dollars) intended for the education of poor children. To date, no one has been brought to book, and the list goes on and on.
Oh, and please remember that any senior public official (read Ministers) will never accept responsibility for mediocre performances under their dockets. Deny, and pass the buck, is their Modus Operandi, and as long as the (lame duck) President is on your side, you will ride out the storm.
Honestly, this has to be the only cabinet in the world that consists of suspects accused of crimes against humanity. With the only government in the world, that legally represents them with taxpayers’ money – which they DON’T contribute to – while the victims of post-election violence wait for more than four years now to be compensated and relocated.
Till next time…
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