Parliament this week resolved to take a zero per cent pay cut in the face of the coronavirus pandemic already shaking the economy to its core.
The Members of Parliament from both Houses, working from home, unanimously voted in favour of a motion seeking to retain their salaries.
So resounding was the support for the motion that there was no need for the Speakers of the two Houses to put out a question, setting a precedent for the first motion to be passed without an official vote.
Judging by the mood of the two houses, it was clear where the MPs and senators stood on the matter. They ignored a cue from their speakers who, two weeks ago, took a 30 per cent pay cut to support efforts in combating the pandemic.
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In light of the fact that many of their employers were currently out of a job, it was expected that the motion would have been shot down as soon as it was tabled. Turns out not everyone was sailing on the same boat.
But to their credit, waheshimiwa
have other responsibilities that need each and every cent of the monthly Sh1.4 million pay. For instance, they are still committed to the weekly church harambees they have been attending since they adjourned sittings.
They must also factor in the hand-outs they give to their constituents every week in the various stop-overs on their weekly visits home, as they have opted out of locking themselves in their mansions. Plus their vehicles won’t fuel themselves.
think we have all the money in the world,” a mheshimiwa thought aloud in support of the motion as she lay on her fluffy leather couch.
“They can be so ungrateful,” another nodded.
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But not everyone knew of the motion. One MP was overheard wondering when the said motion was put before the House.
“What motion? The only thing tabled at my place was some hot ugali
and a bowl of chicken stew,” he muttered, even as many Kenyans went hungry as a result of the pandemic.
Furthermore, to make the personal choice of taking a pay cut would require a vote from at least two-thirds of members and they would have been required to be physically present in the house. They are always in the chamber when voting for a pay rise, why change the rules now?
Perhaps wananchi, i
n expecting an amendment in favour of a salary cut, expected too much from MPs. To be fair, how would, say, a 10 per cent pay cut help in fighting the virus?
Well, for one, they would still be earning more than what the President and his Deputy. But the two still have State House and the Deputy President’s official residence to go home to. Surely we wouldn’t want to add our ‘honourables’ to the long list of homeless Kenyans, would we?
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But back to the 10 per cent cut. MPs earn a basic salary of Sh710,000. In taking the cut, they would each be making a monthly ‘donation’ of Sh71,000, leaving them with Sh639,000 to spare.
Multiply that by their total number, 349, and the figure would hit Sh25 million. Add this to the Senate’s contribution, assuming all 67 of them fork out a similar amount, the donation would rise to Sh29.5 million.
Such an amount would buy enough masks for 1.5 million people.