Some of the Best Paid Politicians In the World Are in …Kenya???

By Sarah Amos

Jul 1, 2010 2:43pm

ABC's Dana Hughes reports from Nairobi: The Kenyan Parliament has just voted to give themselves an 18 percent salary increase, taxing only their allowances, which will bring the annual pay for each member to about $126,000 per year; a salary on par with members of the United States Congress.  The vote also included pay increases for the country’s president, prime minister and vice president.  Under this legislation Kenya’s Prime Minister will take home more money than both Britain’s Prime Minister and the President of the United States. Why might this be a problem? Well because unlike the United States, which has an average annual income of about $50,000, the average Kenyan brings home $730 a year. That’s a little over $2 a day. But putting aside the income discrepancy there’s also a question of where the money politicians are making could be spent. One could assume that if lawmakers are making that much money,  a country  should have great infrastructure – paved roads and highways, free education both elementary and high school, clean water for all, electricity in abundance; it certainly wouldn’t need aid from other more wealthy countries to meet its citizens basic necessities. But Kenya fails on nearly all of these accounts. Less than 10% of all roads in the country are paved, there is no free public high school, access to water in rural areas continues to be problem as does electricity. And while Kenya is not as aid dependent as many other African countries, it still relies on help from donor countries. During last year’s drought, President Mwai Kibaki launched an international appeal for $400 million dollars in emergency food aid. Under this legislation Kenya’s politicians will make more than most  lawmakers from the donor countries providing aid. Another assumption might be that if politicians are making a lot of money legitimately, there’s no need to steal from public funds. But Kenya fails miserably in that category too. Scandal headlines dominate local media here; politicians accused of selling off the country’s grain reserve while a third of the nation faces famine, of stealing millions of dollars from the free primary education fund, of pocketing nearly 60 million dollars from money set aside to help  victims of the 2008′s post-election violence recover. The list goes on and on. Last year, the non profit group Transparency International, which tracks corruption globally, rated Kenya as the most corrupt country in East Africa, and one of the most corrupt on the continent. Kenyans are outraged at their politicians’ behavior and tired of the corruption. When President Obama, whose father was from Kenya, chose to visit Ghana last year on his first trip to Sub-Saharan Africa, we did a story about how many Kenyans applauded the snub.  Most said their corrupt politicians did not deserve a visit from the President of the United States. "They seem to think they are entitled to live large at the tax payers’ expense," Mwalimu Mati, an anti-corruption activist, told ABC News last year. Kenyan citizens will get a chance to weigh in on the issue when they vote on a new draft constitution in August, which includes a provision stopping members of parliament from raising their own pay. But the politicians took that into consideration too. This latest vote to increase their pay also includes a provision for an automatic five percent salary increase every year.

You are using an outdated version of Internet Explorer. Please click here to upgrade your browser in order to comment.
blog comments powered by Disqus