In Tanzania, the government of President Jakaya Kikwete has rejected a proposal by members of Parliament for a salary increase. The call for higher pay was initiated at an MPs' orientation seminar currently underway in Dar es Salaam. It started a heated debate around the country, with Tanzanians calling on the government to reject it. Among other things, the MPs want a basic monthly salary of 1.2 million Tanzanian shillings, which is about double their current salary. In addition, the MPs get a monthly constituency allowance of TSh1 million (US$850) and a daily sitting allowance of TSh95, 000 (US$80).

They are also entitled to free medical coverage in first class hospitals. At the end of their five-year tenure in Parliament, the MPs are paid Tsh30 million (US$25,000). They want the privileges to be doubled and their medical care extended to cover their families, and they want the government to pay for their domestic servants.

Sources say if President Kikwete had accepted the demands, it would indicate to donors that the President is not serious about cleaning up the excesses of his predecessor, Benjamin Mkapa.

Ananilea Nkya is the executive director of the Tanzania Media Women's Association (TAMWA). From Dar es Salaam, she spoke with Voice of America reporter Peter Clottey, saying ?I think it is too early for the MPs to demand a salary increase because they?ve just started their work. And I think the first thing they could have done is to sit down and see how they can work with the government to increase the income, so that they would first serve the people before they demand [an increase in] their salary.?

On whether the rejection of the demands by the MPs is a test case for President Kikwete, she said, ?I think this is a challenge to the MPs themselves. Because Jakaya Kikwete is doing very well, he has never demanded whatever. He is trying his best to work to meet the needs of the people ? so that the government can perform well."   But she says the MPs are actually demanding increases before they've even been paid, and before they've done any work in office, saying "That is where the gap is."