Friday, April 19, 2013

Set their asses on fire

Now that Mithikia Linturi has taken the fateful step to attempt to dismiss the Salaries and Remuneration Commission through Parliamentary procedure, it is time that we interrogated the unrelenting greed of our elected representatives. Mr Linturi was a member of the much-reviled Tenth Parliament, so this is par for the course for the man and his colleagues. What boggles the mind is that he is willing to attract the unremitting wrath of his constituents, and other Kenyans, in his, and his colleagues', familiar desire to live like princes and princesses. What is not in doubt is that the proceedings of Parliament will be pro forma; they have made up their minds to dismiss the SRC and nothing short of an act of God will prevent them from doing so.

When the SRC invited members of the public, citizens all, to comment on their decision to cap the pay-and-perks of State officers, the overwhelming response was that, at least for MPs, the caps were not low enough. A rough citizens' cost/benefit analysis of the pay-and-perks of MPs demonstrated that they were not worth the millions they were trousering every year. Citizens wanted even deeper cuts and lower caps. Mr Linturi perpetuates a long and odious tradition of the National Assembly turning a deaf ear to the concerns of their constituents. Their arguments, so far, have been facetious at best, and down right immoral at worst.

They have, for a long time, lived as if they were in some European parliament or an American city, while their constituents continue to grapple with bread-and-butter issues that should have been consigned to the ash-heap of history. While millions of Kenyans live hand-to-mouth, our parliamentarians continue to eat in the finest restaurants (though some of them take it to extreme ends), live in the leafiest suburbs and are chauffeur-driven to and from their various political and personal engagements (including their assignations with persons who are definitely not their spouses.) They insist in defying the President when he warns them that the public wage-bill, of which their pay-and-perks is consumes a disproportionate amount, is unsustainable over the long term and imperils the Government's operations, including the vital legislation-making functions of Parliament.

But thankfully we have options, as provided for in the Constitution and the Elections Act. If they insist on doing that which we continue to find opprobrious, the power to recall them remains. If we could only set aside our minor differences and collected sufficient petitions to recall the likes of Mithika Linturi and Jimmy Angwenyi, we will send a powerful message to the men and women who continue to take us for granted. In the two years that we have, let us document every single act of parliamentary defiance, we may just have enough to set their asses on fire!

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