Kenyan President Mwai Kibaki has reportedly turned down a 186-percent pay-raise, which would have tripled his salary. In a statement President Kibaki said rather than receive the salary boost, the money should be used in some other developmental projects in the country. The opposition has described the President’s action as a publicity stunt.
Kenyan Deputy Minister of Information Koigi Wamwere talked about President Kibaki’s refusal to accept a pay raise.
“Parliament has increased his pay from seven hundred thousand to two million shillings. He actually turned down the increase arguing that the economic circumstances of the country would not make it advisable or even wise for him to accept that pay raise,” he said.
Wamwere agreed with President Kibaki’s rejection and added that the President had set a good example.
“I totally agree with his decision. I think it is a decision that needed to be made and I would like to add that now that the President had tuned down this increase, then I think all Kenyans should follow suit…I don’t think it would be wise for the past President to get a higher pay than the sitting President,” Wamwere noted.
He said the President’s action was in a way telling well-meaning Kenyans that they have his ear.
“I think the President is telling the nation that he is listening to them, and two, he also made an argument by turning down the salary. He also advanced the argument that the salary he was getting was good enough for him and what is good for the President should be good for everybody,” he said.
Wamwere noted that by his action, President Kibaki has issued a challenge to all Kenyans.
“I think he is actually throwing a challenge to the rest of Kenyans, especially those who have very high salaries. I think the issue of salaries should be an open debate,” he said.
Wamwere described accusations from the opposition as nonsensical and uncalled for.
“I think that is a lot of rubbish. We have seen many Presidents increase their pay; we have even seen members of Parliament increase their pay irrespective of what the national reaction against the increase was. Yes he had chaired that cabinet meeting that suggested the increase. But Parliament approved that increase, and he was not alone in Parliament,” Wamwere said.
The Kenyan official said Africa has yet to see as honest a President as Kenya’s Mwai Kibaki.
“Let me tell you I doubt that we have another President like him in Africa who will increase his pay, have the pay approved by parliament and then defy parliament in turning down the pay. Remember, we are talking about a country where a CEO (Chief Executive Officer) is getting a salary of 20 million Kenyan shillings,” he said.
Wamwere said President Kibaki deserves commendation rather than the condemnation that he has been subjected to.
“We should be saluting him rather than criticizing him and bashing him for it. I think we have become a nation of people who are incapable of giving credit where it’s due,” Wamwere said.
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