Kenyan Members of Parliament (MPs) are known to be some of the best paid in Africa and in deed in the world. In the past they had they had the privilege of setting their own salaries. In the period 2008- 2013, Kenyan taxpayers paid MPs KES 851,000 per month and the President KES 2.4M per month. In the same period, Kenya’s per capita income has been KES 2,000 per month, while minimum wage remained KES 4,050 per month. This means the President earned over 595 times than the average citizen, while MPs in the 10th Parliament earned over 425 times more than the per capita income and 210 times more than the minimum wage paid to the many workers in the agriculture, plantations and allied sector whose sweat is the backbone of Kenya’s economy.
The same MPs in the 10th Parliament in October 2012 passed a bill to pay themselves a further ‘retirement package’ of over Ksh9Million (USD 110,000) each for the 210 MPs. Had this passed, at the time, it would have meant that at Ksh2,000 per month, it would take 61 years for the average Kenyan to earn the Ksh9M bonus that MPs had proposed for each of themselves. In addition to the bonus, the proposed retirement package for MPs included diplomatic passports for them and their spouses, a state funeral and access to the nation's VIP airport lounges. The proposal was thwarted following demonstrations by KHRC and other civil society organizations and public outcry on all media and that resulted in the President slashing the bonuses by half.
But in 2013, the Salaries and Remuneration Commission, a body with the constitutional mandate to among other functions set and regularly review the remuneration and benefits of all state officers include Members of the National Assembly and Senate, reviewed their salaries downward from a high of KES 851,000 per month to amounts ranging between KES 532,500 – KES 710,000 per month. This was on the basis that the national wage bill that consumes up to 35% of the total national budget is unsustainable in the current state of the Kenyan economy.
However, even before getting down to business, the newly elected Members of the National Assembly have put high on their agenda their demand for pay rise and have rejected the pay cut.
So,what exactly should to elected state officers be doing to earn this money and are they actually offering Kenyanstheirmoney’s worth?
“Functions of Elected State Officers” breaks down the functions of the elected Members of the National Assembly , Senate down to the Ward Representatives that number upto 1450. It provides short explanations on the functions that the different elected state officers should perform. It has been developed in response to studies that have noted the need to build the capacity of legislators to understand and better perform their role.
The brief also takes cognizance of the right to and duty of citizen participation now recognised in the Constitution of Kenya 2010. It is therefore also intended to help citizens to understand what functions each of the elected state officers ought to perform, be aware of how much s/he as a taxpayer is paying each elected state officer to perform these functions and create awareness on the fact that the Constitution now provides for citizens to recall nonperforming elected state officers. Finally, this brief provides a breakdown of some of the responsibility that citizens ought to take to fulfil their duty of citizen participation.