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Uhuru and Raila team up to block MPs higher pay

President Uhuru Kenyatta and Nasa leader Raila Odinga were on Thursday united in their resolve to block moves by MPs to reject the new pay structure that reduces their salaries and allowances.

President Kenyatta vowed never to sign any bill that goes against the efforts of the Salaries  and Remuneration Commission to slash the government wage bill.

Mr Odinga’s Orange Democratic Movement said its MPs who had spoken against the SRC structure were not speaking for the party, which supports prudent management of public resources.

The MPs-elect are planning to to annul the gazette notice on the new salary structure and arm-twist the President  into signing it when it comes to vetting of the new Cabinet.

The MPs were under the impression that they can come up with a bill to annul the gazette notice by having it scrutinised by the committee on delegated legislation.

RETAIN OLD SALARIES

A similar attempt fell flat in case filed by activist Okiya Omtatah in the last parliament.

Interviews with dozens of MPs-elect across political divide showed that they have vowed to close ranks and take a common position to retain the old salaries and allowances hoping to force the President’s hand at a time when he will need their support to approve his Cabinet nominees.

The MPs who are set to be sworn in next week on Thursday following a gazette notice by President Kenyatta have found themselves in a tight position regarding the salaries as the President has already thrown his weight behind the reductions introduced by the SRC chaired by Ms Sarah Serem.

READ: READ: Sarah Serem cuts State officers’ pay

The MPs have said they will embark on nullifying the gazette notice immediately they take the oath of office.

“We have all the machinery at our disposal including blocking the approval of Cabinet Secretaries, Principal Officers and other key appointments,” said Alego Usonga MP-elect Samuel Atandi.

“No approval will take place in this house until we have an agreement over our salaries. The SRC gazette notice cannot be allowed to stand,” added Mr Atandi.

OLD FIGURES

Seme MP-elect James Nyikal said they will fight tooth and nail to have the old figures retained.

“I can assure you that a majority of MPs are in support of higher perks but will not speak in public because they are held captive by the electorate. On this one we will fight tooth and nail and we will join hands,” he said.

“MPs cannot be held responsible for all the sins of this country. We need a serious national dialogue on why MPs need to earn more not just a blanket condemnation,” he said, adding that MPs use an average of Sh100, 000 per week in their constituencies and end up as paupers when they retire.

READ: READ: Cut salaries for elected leaders by half: Clerics

Bura MP Ali Wario said it was unfair for Ms Serem to deny MPs car grants yet they are expected to travel to their constituencies regularly.

“Let the government give me a vehicle, fuel it and employ a driver for me so that I can traverse my constituency and I will not ask for a penny,” he said.

Mr Wario downplayed the importance of the SRC gazette notice on the salaries saying: “What is a gazette notice that is just a delegated legislation.”

Ikolomani MP elect Bernard Shinali said they will oppose the new salary structure.

PAY INSURANCE

“Let her (Ms Serem) come here in Parliament even just for a month and she will know what we are taking about. How does she expect me to use my car, fuel it, pay insurance and employ a driver to conduct my duty.  No way, it can’t happen,” Mr Shinali said.

Pokot South MP elect Mr David Pkosing said the SRC proposal was unrealistic, adding: “We will review the gazette notice and tell her what needs to done.”  As they spoke, President Kenyatta   said it was shameful that the MPs were showing greed even before they were sworn in.

“I am greatly disturbed by the statements from individuals who wish to claim that they should be paid more and will demand more than what the law provides even before they have been sworn in.

I want to make it abundantly clear that I fully support the recommendations of  Sarah Serem that have cut the salaries  of all public officers  from the President all the way down,” said Mr Kenyatta while addressing more than 1,000 head teachers from Catholic Church sponsored schools at the Catholic University of Eastern Africa in Nairobi.

He went on: “I ask these honourable members if they require to be called honourable to respect that.”

ELECTIONS

The President said that it’s shameful that just a few weeks after from the elections MPs have not recognized the issues that make Kenyans angry.

“I am stating it now even as I wait for the Supreme Court to rule on my election, if it rules in my favour, I am saying before you I swear, I shall not sign that law,” he said. 

Nasa National Campaign Committee chairman Musalia Mudavadi clarified that the coalition’s MPs who were pushing for higher perks were speaking as individuals.

 “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 affected individuals and have every right to do so,” said Mr Musalia Mudavadi, the chairman of the Nasa national campaign committee.

On whether or not the SRC had executed its constitutional mandate legally, Mr Mudavadi said only the Industrial Court could determine that.

HIGHER SALARIES

ODM  also distanced itself from their members who are backing moves to bring back the higher salaries, saying they are not speaking for the party.

“We stand for equity and prudent management of public resources. We cannot therefore promote wastage, avarice and inequities in the Kenyan society,” said executive director Oduor Ong’wen in a statement.

The demand for more perks was sparked by Homa Bay Woman Representative-elect Ms Gladys Wanga, who is a member of PSC, who on Wednesday accused the SRC of drastically reducing MPs’ pay and allowances without having carried out a job evaluation exercise as required by the Constitution.

She was supported by Kiambu Woman Rep Gathoni Muchomba, Adan Keynan (Eldas), Gideon Ochanda (Bondo) and  Joseph Manje (Kajiado North).

Under the new structure, gazetted on July 12, MPs’ salaries have been fixed at Sh621,250 down from Sh710,000 and their plenary sitting allowances of Sh5,000 removed.

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