EDITORIAL: Debate on pay rise for legislators misguided


JF-Expert Member
Feb 11, 2007
EDITORIAL: Debate on pay rise for legislators misguided


RECENTLY members of the Tanzanian Parliament had the opportunity of hosting their counterparts from Kenya. During the entire period when the Kenyan legislators were here, a lot of notes were compared between the two sides and lessons learnt.

While the Kenyan legislators were surprised by the hospitality they were accorded locally, which is so alien in their country but which defines the nature of true Tanzanians, their counterparts were largely interested and impressed by the way the Constituency Development Fund (CDF) works and the fat cheques that the Kenyan legislators take home at the end of the month.

The session provided not only a contrast between the two groups but also a window for acquiring values by both sides. At one point, one of the Kenyan legislators while paying tribute to the Tanzanian hospitality noted that in their country it was unheard of for a woman to greet a man with a slight bow.

This statement helped explain the divide between women and men and issues of gender equality and affirmative action in Kenya, which were later clearly highlighted by the Kenyan National Assembly Speaker, Kenneth Marende, who conceded that their country still had miles to travel on such issues.

Most of the Kenyan legislators were very curious about the harmony between tribes, races, religious groups and other diverse groups that make Tanzania. It was clear that even though they claimed that they had learnt lessons from the post-election violence that rocked their country, there were still vestiges of disharmony in Kenya. This was confirmed when a Kenyan legislator referred to one of his counterparts as 'Masai' instead of calling him by name.

The biggest lesson for the Kenyan legislators from their Tanzanian counterparts therefore was how to harmonize a deeply split Kenya. Any lessons for the Tanzanian legislators?

While many Tanzanians expected their members of parliament to dwell on important issues such as how a perfected model of the Kenyan CDF could help ordinary Tanzanians, it was noteworthy that their favourite topic was pushing the notion that they are grossly underpaid.

At one point one Kenyan legislator, who chairs a parliamentary committee charged with the welfare of members of parliament described with overemphasized pomp and with little shame, how well Kenyan MPs are taken care of with fat perks that include allowances worth 400,000 Kenyan shillings (an equivalent of 8m/-), duty free importation of top-of-the-range cars valued at 66m/- and a salary equivalent to 4m/-

Once the speakers launched into this topic it seemed like an argument being presented to the Tanzanian people with legislators falling short of asking wananchi such questions as 'you see what we've been telling you all along?' That's why even after the end of the session questions were emerging in the public domain about whether the perceived low pay in the country has a relation to the rise in cases of corruption.

One thing that our legislators forget is that, the high perks enjoyed by the Kenyan legislators, who have recently resisted the attempt by the government to impose taxes on their huge allowances, go against the will of the Kenyan people and that even with their huge salaries and benefits they are among the most corrupt in the world!

The big question here therefore is whether the Kenyan example is worth any emulation by Tanzanians.
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