In Kenya, a review of parliamentarians’
salaries has triggered debate over whether MP’s should pay taxes like other
Kenyans.Past budget proposals have
enabled legislators to continue to avoid taxing their own expense account
allowances, but Kenya’s revenue authority chief Michael Waweru suggested in
testimony Monday that given their lifestyles and the pressures of the current
economic slowdown, taxation would be a good way to contribute to the
economy.African studies Professor John
Maina of Baltimore’s Johns Hopkins University says that MP’s power to assess their own compensation and
taxation remains a constant source of corruption that hampers the effectiveness
of Kenya’s government.
think the Kenyan public has already expressed its displeasure.There have even been demonstrations by the
members of the civil society showing their displeasure in terms of the pay
raises for the members of parliament and also taxing their pay, because as of
now, members of parliament don’t pay any taxes. And yet, every time around,
they (MP’s) want to raise their pay scales,” he said.
of the terms agreed to last year when Kenya’s rival parties formed their unity
government and ended almost four months of violence, civil, and ethnic strife
was to draw up and adopt a national constitution.Without a constitution in place, Professor
Maina notes that Kenyan law doesn’t define in clear terms who should supervise
the members of parliament and provide oversight of their salaries, staff and
personal allowances, and define their tax obligations.
still don’t have a reviewed constitution in place which would review some of
these issues.The coalition had promised
to enact a new constitution within the first 100 days of occupying office.But so far, it’s over a year since the
coalition has been in government, but we still don’t have a new constitution to
address some of those issues of corruption,” he observed.
anti-corruption monitoring tool created to discourage public officials from
misusing their resources and the ways they acquire and spend is the Public
Officer Ethics Act, which has a wealth declaration provision that requires all
public servants to spell out their wealth two times every year.But a report by Kenya’s Public Service
Commission states that 28-thousand civil servants, including several thousand
school teachers, disregarded the provision.
John Maina says that this is just another weak statute with which
Kenya’s anti-corruption apparatus has demonstrated its weakness to enforce the
idea here is to declare your wealth before occupying office, and then, they can
determine when you leave office how much money you’ve made.But here, if you refuse to declare how much
you have already, you are actually hiding the authorities from knowing how much
money you have accumulated during your tenure in office,” he says.
the determination to enforce a spending code of conduct uniformly across all
tiers of officials and public workers, the government, according to Maina, is
unable strengthen public confidence and trust to inspire civil servants to act
make it very clear.The Kenya Anti-Corruption
Authority is a toothless bulldog.It has
never prosecuted even one single person involved in corruption.It’s run by Aaron Ringera.He’s been in office for the last six years
and within those six years, he has never prosecuted anybody who has been
involved in corruption,” notes Maina.
polls have demonstrated a correlation between the Kenyan public’s views on the
likelihood of new violence and the government’s failure to clamp down on
corruption.Professor Maina, who is
currently studying government under a fellowship at Harvard University’s
Kennedy School of Government, says the loss of confidence could inevitably
result in premature end to the current government before the anticipated 2012
public has shown displeasure in many ways, through public protest, through
demonstrations, and through engaging our government leaders.It looks like Kibaki just inherited
corruption left by President Moi’s government.
So people are actually calling for dissolving the current coalition
government of President Kibaki and Prime Minister Raila Odinga,” he cautioned.
Without a new constitution in place, Maina
says he fears that those calls for a new election before the unity government
is due to expire may inspire a repeat of the lawlessness that broke out in the
wake of the December, 2007 vote.