, NAIROBI, Kenya, Jul 1 – The endorsement of a proposal by Members of Parliament to double their allowances and increase their salaries has elicited fierce criticism from the civil society and a cross section of Kenyans who have accused the lawmakers of being selfish.
National Youth Forum co-convener Joshua Odhiambo on Thursday said Kenya’s leadership was tainted with self-centered individuals who are not focused on developmental issues.
He asked Kenyans to vote for the proposed Constitution saying it would seal all loopholes in the law that created room for manipulation.
“We think that is a manifestation of the fact that a number of people in the political class rather than focusing on developing a new dispensation for the country are only pursuing selfish interests. What happened yesterday (Wednesday) in Parliament has motivated us to work even harder to ensure this country gets a new Constitution,” he said.
Internally Displaced Persons who are yet to be resettled also spoke out against the proposed pay increase terming it unfair, citing instances when they had been told the government had no money to re-settle them.
“These tents were supposed to last three months; it is now two and a half years down the line with the same tents so that people have to run to the shops to buy polythene paper to put on top of the worn out tents. The government says it cannot buy us new ones,” said James Muchina.
The IDPs also decried the deplorable conditions under which they lived with Mr Muchina saying: “We are losing young children and old people because of diseases and of course IDPs have no money to buy medicine.”
Kenyans interviewed by Capital News also expressed their disapproval with the MPs’ move. Some argued that the members of the National Assembly did not deserve the increment as Kenya could not afford it.
“The average Kenyan lives under a dollar a day. How does someone with a conscience sit down and demand to be given like Sh3.2 million and at the end of the day your fellow Kenyans are struggling to make ends meet? In Kenya the rich keep getting richer and the poor keep getting poorer,” said a university student.
The stand taken by the National Youth Forum was made after a meeting with the United States Under Secretary for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs Judith McHale in Nairobi.
Ms McHale who is on a tour to help foster US relations with the rest of the world including Kenya is also scheduled to meet President Mwai Kibaki.
She applauded the country’s top leadership for its efforts in ensuring that Kenyans were educated on the contents of the proposed new law.
“This is a moment in time when Kenyans have an opportunity to go out and vote on a Constitution which will represent a law for the 21st century,” she said.
Ms McHale is the former president and Chief Executive Officer of Discovery Communications.