Uhuru Kenyatta: I Swear I will not Sign into Law such a Bill
President says it is shameful for newly-elected leaders to start agitating for more pay even before they are sworn in.
President Uhuru Kenyatta yesterday said he would not allow MPs to increase their salaries if the Supreme Court validates his victory. “We are not on the same page… I’ll not endorse any increase even if they will hate me and they should not even dream about it,” he said.
The President vowed to use his prerogative to shoot down the move as the Opposition disowned Homa Bay Women’s Rep Gladys Wanga who had come up with the proposal that the 12th Parliament legislators’ pay is reverted to where it was before the Salaries and Remuneration Commission (SRC) slashed perks.
“When they were contesting for the seats, they knew what the salaries were, so they cannot turn around even before they are sworn in and start complaining,” he said.
Speaking yesterday at this year’s annual conference of the Catholic Schools Principals’ Association at the Catholic University of East Africa (Cuea), Uhuru said it was shameful for newly elected leaders to start agitating for more pay even when there are policies and institutions in place guiding the same.
“Hakuna mtu hakuwa anajua ile mshahara atakuwa akipata (None of them was unaware of what salary they would be earning before they were elected),” he said. He urged MPs to drop their threat and get down to work. “We are not masters but servants of the people, we are here to serve. We have a system in place that pays us by what we do. I swear will not sign into law such a bill,” the President said.
Those who have notably agitated for higher pay have mainly been Women MPs-elect who include Wanga, Gathoni waMuchomba (Kiambu Women’s Rep), Millie Odhiambo (Mbita), Susan Kihika (Nakuru Senator) and Bomet Governor-elect Joyce Laboso. Most spoke on live TV talk shows.
And hours after Uhuru disowned the MPs, Opposition parties under Nasa dispatched statements to newsroom declaring that legislators who are opposing SRC are doing so as individuals and not on behalf of their parties, about Wanga and Odhiambo.
“Nasa wishes to debunk the notion that the MPs-elect are speaking as collective representatives of political parties or as members of the Nasa coalition. They are speaking as individuals and have every right to do so,” said a statement from Nasa co-principal Musalia Mudavadi. He, however, added that the SRC decision “will have to be weighed against best international labour practices” and may indeed be a matter of the Industrial Court to decide.
“Nasa is currently focused on prosecuting its petition at the Supreme Court. The coalition will, in due course, pronounce itself on the matter after due diligence and consultations,” he said. Orange Democratic Movement party executive director Oduor Ong’wen said the party should “not promote or be seen to promote wastage, avarice, and inequities in the society.”
On Wednesday Wanga called a press conference to oppose the move by SRC to reduce earnings for legislators, accusing the commission of attempting to turn MPs into “beggars.” “The new pay for legislators was meant to rob Parliament of its status. The MPs will not accept anything less than the package lawmakers in the Eleventh Parliament were taking home,” Wanga said in a briefing where she was accompanied by some of the new lots of legislators. Wa Muchomba had on the same day insisted that SRC should drop the proposal to slash salaries for elected leaders and other state officers.
“I want to be paid well. I want to be honored for who I am,” said the former radio presenter.
But yesterday, in a wave of hostile social media attacks, she retracted her statements and apologized after the sentiments that prompted Kiambu residents to start signing a petition to stop her swearing in.
The President said the leaders should respect themselves if they want to continue being called honorable.