We have no business asking MPs to accept pay cut

Did you see the huge crowds during the campaigns? You loved them, right? You boasted that your party had larger crowds than the other party’s crowds, right? Do you think those crowds formed by themselves? You must have heard that there were crowds for hire, crowds being ferried from rallies to rallies, and people being paid to attend those rallies. Where do you think those vying to be Presidents, MPs, Governors, Women Rep, Senators, and MCAs got the funds to buy crowds from?

The spending was not limited to buying the crowds. There were ads on TV, radio, social media, posters, billboards, everywhere. There were spending on transport; choppers, four wheel drives, other fleets of vehicles, venues, PA Systems, pastors, musicians, comedians, masters of ceremony. According to estimates, Jubilee party and the government of Kenya spent an upward of Kshs 10 billion in the just concluded 2017 campaigns, Kshs 4 billion more than what they spent during the 2013 campaigns. The amount of money NASA spent in 2017 campaigns haven’t been estimated, but they must have spent slightly more than the Kshs 4 billion they spent in the 2013 campaigns. How do you think Uhuru Kenyatta will get back the Kshs 10 billion they spent on the campaigns?

The combined Salaries of President and Deputy President total to Kshs 3 million a month. If these people were to get their money back from their salaries alone, they will need to be employed as President and Deputy president for at least 277 years! Lucky for Uhuru Kenyatta and William Ruto, the projects they will have to launch in the next five years run into trillions of shillings, that if they will get only 5% of that in kickbacks, they will have received more than 5 times the amount they spent on the campaigns.

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Governors too have projects they have direct control over. What about the Women Rep? The Senators? The MPs? The MCAs?

MPs can spend an upward of Kshs 20 million in the campaigns, an amount of money that would need MPs earning Kshs 620,000 per month to work for two years and a half, save the entire salary every month, in order to get the returns on investment, and that’s when you assume zero inflation over the two and a half year period. Assuming that the MP has bills to pay from the salary, has dependencies to take care of, then we are talking about someone who works for 5 years with the aim of getting only the amount he or she spent on the campaigns.

“But they went into the elections knowing very well what they were getting into”, you might reason. Yes this is true, and one of the things they knew they were getting into is that you will not vote for them unless they bribed you, and unless they commanded larger crowds than their opponents.

This is true story. One morning shortly after the party nomination campaigns had kicked in, I took a journey from Nakuru to Nairobi. Before boarding the shuttle I looked at my shoes and saw how dirty they were, dusty. I decided to visit a shoe shiner, and as he was busy making my shoes look attractive, a Kenyan with ambition to become an MCA in Biashara ward (Nakuru CBD) under Jubilee party approached him. He introduced himself, explained his ambitions, and promised to make his business environment better. He then handed to the shoe shiner a leaflet. He left to the next shoe shiner, then to the next – and to the next. When he left the vicinity, the shoe shiners started talking about the poor ambitious Kenyan.

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1st shoe shiner, “Sasa huyu anataka tulambe mkono”

2nd shoe shiner, “Hizo maneno na tumbo tupu haziingiani”

3rd shoe shiner, “Hapa na tao si mashambaa unangoea bila kunyorosha mkono”

I then asked my shoe shiner how much he expected the MCA aspirant to leave to each of them. “100 shillings”, he said.

Nakuru Biashara ward has more than 25,000 registered voters. If an aspiring MCA had to pay at least shs 300 to each registered voter, then we are talking about shs 7.5 million minimum in bribes alone. This is before the MCA has put aside money for rallies, door to door logistics, paying agents, and other election related expenses. An MCA in Nakuru’s Biashara ward should have therefore spent no less than Kshs 10 million to be assured of a win. This MCA, for him to recoup his investment during his 5 year term, must demand for at least Kshs 170,000 on minimum pay per month. Double that to cater for work reward and you’ll understand why they pushed for Kshs 300,000 pay per month.

Who should we blame in this case, the shoe shiner or the MCA aspirant?

Until we as a people will be mature enough to prioritise those who come to us on foot to ask for votes, those who don’t do expensive ads anywhere, those who don’t litter our streets with posters, those who don’t give us free t-shirts and caps, those who don’t have to give us useless loose change as bribes, until we will change, we have no business asking the MPs to accept a pay cut.

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“You have no moral authority to talk about moral authority” was the best sound byte in 2017 campaigns.

Odipo Riaga
Managing Editor at KachTech Media
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