Open letter to Members of Parliament

I thought I would address this letter directly to you seeing as the matter at hand pinches your financial feet.

You are my appointed Member of Parliament and I am your Wanjiku. I chose you to represent me in Parliament partly because I had faith in you; because I believed to some degree in your ability to bring development; and perhaps because, in the same way that a leopard doesn’t change its stripes, I knew exactly what to expect from you.

Since you are the shoe wearer, it is clear that only you would know where paying taxes would pinch most. This is why this letter comes to you.

I know that when the referendum was around the corner, you threw outbursts and refused to support the Constitution until your interests in that area were taken into consideration. Well, you should have known better; a gentleman’s agreement is an almost non-existent lingo in the Kenyan political dictionary.

Look around you and beyond the face of Africa. Where in the world do people purporting to be servants of the public refuse to pay taxes that support the same constituents that elected them?

When KRA told us that ‘Kulipa Ushuru ni Kujitegemea’, was the meaning lost in translation? Did you not understand that every penny available is required to finance that trillion shilling budget that cascades to your county level? This is where you fail; that you are willing to sacrifice the needs of your own constituents to enrich yourself.

My dear MP, when you say that you have committed your full pay and have no wiggle room to pay taxes on your allowances, what are you telling us? What are you telling Wanjiku who earns much less than you and is barely surviving under the pressures of the high cost of living? Wanjiku who struggles to feed her family because the price of basic commodities has gone through the roof? What example are you setting out for her?

Are you telling her that you are more special than she is, by virtue of the fact that she elected you? Perhaps she ought to demote you so that you can walk in her shoes. We do not need leaders who cannot empathise with our plight.

Let me refrain from this zealous path and revert to the law which my learned friends have told me is a ‘donkey’. Article 210 of the new Constitution is very explicit and categorical that no law shall exclude you from paying of taxes because you are a State officer.

Let me assure that as Kenyans, we have learned to read and interpret and no amount of posturing and manoeuvring can be used to interpret that article differently. Like a leopard, we know your stripes and have learned to anticipate your moves. Let me assure you that we shall be watching you closely to ensure that you are not increasing our labour costs… you are already some of the highest paid legislators in the world.

I implore you to bear in mind that public office is not a profit-making venture. If that is what you seek, please join us in this competitive world where we are beset with numerous other challenges, least of which is a non-negotiable taxation regime.

You have no choice than to give Caesar what is due to him; unless of course you don’t intend to run for State office again.

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