September 8, 2014 OPINION/NEWS




Joe Khamisi

Ask Kenyans to name their biggest enemy today and they will not mention illiteracy, poverty and disease – the three major challenges that have dogged the country since independence. No! they will not name HIV and malaria either; not even – I am sure – the terrorist group, Al Shabaab.

Most Kenyans will tell you their biggest enemy today is their Members of Parliament, Senators and Members of County Assemblies (MCAs). These are the people who purposefully and determinedly are working around the clock to snatch every penny of the taxpayers’ money through a local version of the Ponzi scheme where elected leaders pounce and pinch without care.

This is all true because the outrageous demands made this week by Senators to triple their income and give themselves flashy cars, posh offices and expensive furniture, is evidence of how sick our body politic has become.

Our country is facing serious budgetary and public debt deficits as a result of, among other things, the decline in tourism earnings brought about by unending travel advisories by tourist generating countries. It has borrowed heavily from foreign sources to finance infrastructure. It is paying huge corruption related debts while, at the same time, scrambling to cut the public wage bill. We can blame all these problems on the present and past governments, but the fact is that the money must be paid back.

And as we await new revenue to trickle in from recently discovered oil and mineral resources, we have to finance an extremely bloated government system; and buy modern tools to deal with the menace of drug trafficking and escalating internal criminal gangs. Also, we have to continue investing in health, education and environment, and deal with the present high levels of poverty and unemployment.

Unfortunately, our elected leaders are oblivious of all these problems and daily are asking for more money from the Exchequer. For Senators to demand almost three times their current overrated monthly income of 850,000 Kenya shillings, plus a long list of perks, is to say the least, insensitive, and an insult to suffering Kenyans, most of whom go to bed hungry. And to even think of pampering the MCAs with goodies such as increased salaries, support staff and cars, in exchange for their support in the referendum, is to put political considerations ahead of bread and butter issues.

Regardless of what decision the Parliamentary Service Commission and the Salaries and Remuneration Commission make over the Senators’ demands, something needs to be done and done fast. At the moment, there is a lot of talk about the questions that ideally should be included in the referendum questionnaire. One I would like to see on the list is that remuneration for all our leaders, elected and nominated, be negotiated at the beginning of each term –  as is normally done in regular employment – and no adjustments be permitted in mid-term.

This way, the government will be in a better position to balance its accounts and plan, and Kenyans will not have to get angry so often.




Joe Khamisi

Joe Khamisi is a former journalist, diplomat and Member of Parliament. He is also the Author of the Politics of Betrayal:Diary of a Kenyan Legislator, a political memoir about the situation in Kenya between 2001, when the ruling party of President Daniel Arap Moi, the Kenya African National Union (KANU), merged with Raila Odinga’s National Development Party.

The book also narrates cases of corruption in Parliament and in the Media and records Senator Obama’s visit to Kenya in 2006. As a friend of Barack Obama Senior, the author also remembers the times and tragedies of the American-educated economist.

Joe Khamisi’s second book, a biography, ‘Dash Before Dusk’, is currently awaiting publication.

In addition to the above books, Joe Khamisi blogs at , and for media enquiries can be reached at

(This article is courtesy of Joe Khamisi and was originally published at the above WordPress blog on 4th September 2014)



No Comments Yet!

You can be first to comment this post!

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.