Kenya primate: Politicians elected for public service, not personal gain

June 6, 2013


[Anglican Communion News Service] The leader of Kenya’s Anglican Church has reprimanded the country’s parliamentarians for demanding a pay increase 100 times the minimum wage.

In a statement, Archbishop Eliud Wabukala of the Anglican Church of Kenya expressed his disappointment over the MPs’ demands. He said, “We are aggrieved that MPs on both sides of the house found common ground to overwhelmingly vote for the salary increment, yet positions on national priorities like security, health, education and poverty alleviation are not assured of such prompt response.

“The MPs’ move to determine their pay is unconstitutional and is a direct conflict of interest,” said the archbishop. “We urge [them] to pursue dialogue with the Salaries and Remuneration Commission as opposed to [engaging in such] rebellious acts as attempting to repeal acts of parliament to work in their favor.”

Kenyan MPs are already among the world’s best-paid politicians in a country where the majority only earn under US$1 a day. Yet last month they voted to raise their salaries in defiance of government plans to cut them as part of spending reforms. According to the government, the pay cuts are needed help free up cash to create jobs.

The archbishop reminded parliamentarians that Kenya is undergoing a transition process and that “resources should be channeled towards the stabilization of the various decentralization structures and not be derailed by MPs’ demands.”

“State officers must recognize that the authority bestowed to them is a public trust that needs to be respected and any exploitation is translated as abuse of power,” he said. “Parliamentarians should note that a public officer is elected for public service and not personal gain.”

The archbishop added that the country’s public sector wage bill constitutes 50% of the annual government wage revenue and that this push for even higher salaries, “is selfish, inconsiderate and uncalled for.”

The archbishop also reminded the people of Kenya that all state officers, including MPs, are not exempt from the rule of law and that the constitution as the supreme law binds everyone.

Bishop Julius Kalu of Mombasa agreed that it is wrong for MPs to fight for a pay rise “at the expense of the more than 50 percent of Kenyans who are living below the poverty line.”

“If MPs went to parliament to enrich themselves, then they are in the wrong place,” he said. “Those who are dissatisfied with the salary should immediately resign and give the opportunities to other Kenyans.”

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