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MPs' salary drama

09 May 2013, 14:09 Ben Kibati

I find it difficult to honestly contribute to the widespread and popular social angst at the demands of our MP’s.

Like pantomime villains, their every utterance and claim is met with a boo, hiss before we all slink off to our bedrooms to sleep smug in the knowledge of our moral superiority. After all, who but M-pigs could demand higher salaries when their job had not even begun? Why do they not sacrifice like we do?

This current indignation rings hollow, the wailing of the professional mourner who longs for another death. In the day we condemn their rent seeking, in the night we seek their company, their connections, their aid in our endeavours to enrich ourselves at all costs.

We have our expectations of them, where they should live, what they should drive and how they should spend their time and money. We scoff at our culture of handouts, yet revile those MP’s who would not give to the last dime in their pocket. We snigger at those MP’s who once out of office are reduced to our ranks of the ordinary, questioning their intelligence, competence or sheer lack of Kenyan street smarts.

The MP who doesn’t dish out is stingy and removed from the suffering of his constituents. She who cannot contribute to every funeral, every hospital bill, every plea for fees and cry for aid is a niggardly beast devoid of the milk of human emotion that would seek to give to all in need at the cost of her own livelihood.

I don’t mean to venerate handouts, or even justify demands for higher public salaries when our country is in debt. It just appears hypocritical to condemn behavior we encourage and to vilify demands that we ourselves would make. Scores of right minded private sector middle class moral titans milk their companies and organizations of every benefit and advantage they can get regardless of any detriment to those organizations.

The rates of private sector corruption in Kenya is amongst the highest in Africa (therefore the world). In the poorer parts of Kenya (i.e. most places), leaving a campaign rally without making a monetary contribution to those in attendance, is the easiest way to get a lynching unless you can get away in a fortified four wheel drive.

So by all means, let us criticize these honourable representatives for their behaviour. But before we universally condemn, let us examine the behaviour we espouse that these MP’s most wholeheartedly represent.

- Ben Kibati is a practising lawyer in Nairobi.

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