Kenya, Rants

The King(s) of Kenya

Not me, haha, Mwai Kibaki. They say he’s the president, but he’s more like a king. I knew he was filthy rich, but a recent newspaper article in The Nation detailed his earnings. Here’s the deal, he earns 2 million Kenyan shillings as a basic salary and another 1.2 million in allowances (entertainment, they say). That’s per month, by the way. 3.2 million Kenyan shillings is approximately equal to 40,000 US dollars. Remember, per month!

Now add to that Prime Minister Raila Odinga‘s pay (who serves in a new position in the government since December, 2007’s presidential election debacle). Current newspapers quote him as saying that he should earn as much as the president, as they are supposed to be at the same level of government (co-kings, I guess!). Then we have the 200+ members of parliament who earn somewhere around 800,000 basic salary and around 100,000 allowances for things as ridiculous as entertainment, car maintenance, etc. What’s more ridiculous is that one of the first pieces of legislation these MPs pass when they arrive in office is an increase of their salaries.

To add insult to injury, they refuse to pay taxes. They say there is nothing in the country’s constitution that says they need to pay taxes. Uhm, how about the part that says, “all citizens who benefit from state programs (you know, roads, schools, army, infrastructure, etc) pay taxes to fund said programs?” Are they not citizens of Kenya? After all that, imagine, the politicians have the gall to call for a public harambee (“all pull together” in Swahili, sorta like a fund raiser) to support the hundreds of thousands of internally displaced persons from the post-election violence.

To put this in some relative terms, take the US President’s salary. The US President currently earns a salary of 400,000 US dollars per year (raised from 200,000 in 1999 with effect in 2001); that’s around 33,000 US dollars per month. It’s a lot of money, no doubt, but the cost of living in America is significantly higher than in Kenya (also no doubt). Kenya’s president earns nearly 100,000 US dollars MORE per year than the American president.

To again put this in perspective, a teacher at my school will earn somewhere around 15,000 Kenyan shillings per month, and elementary school teachers earn from 5,000 to 10,000 if they’re lucky.

It’s appalling to me that Kenya, while it is a country of opulent wealth (it’s the strongest economy in East Africa), it has almost nothing to show for it. The country is enormously under developed, corruption infects every aspect of daily life, fifty percent of Kenyans live in poverty, and forty percent of working-age Kenyans are unemployed.

Simply put: the politicians are cannibalizing the country for personal gain.

3 Comments to “The King(s) of Kenya”

  1. As a Kenyan I have always been at pains to understand why The President of Kenya should earn more than the American president.

    Consider New York Mayor, Michael Bloomberg runs a city economy far bigger than Kenya, he goes to work via a train, works in a shared room and earns $1 a month. Now that is a leader!

    It is so sad that politics in Kenya is a means to wealth and status and not a duty to serve the society.

  2. I stumbled upon your blog while looking for Kenyan info and I have to say it’s very interesting. About the above topic, things won’t change unless we want them to change. Heck look at Libya, Egypt etc. I’m not saying we should kick out our president but if enough people voice their concern(I mean A LOT of people) then things will change.

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