Thursday, 10 January 2013


Kenya is ranked second as the worst place to be born in and as if that's not enough, Nairobi is the second worst city to live in the world according to the latest statistics (Washington Post, 8th January 2013). While a certain level of corruption goes on in every country, corruption in Kenya is a particularly large problem. The average urban Kenyan has to pay 16 bribes a month to get his regular affairs arranged. In the 2008 Corruption Perceptions Index, issued by the anti-corruption organization Transparency International, Kenya ranks 147th out of 180 countries, meaning 146 countries are supposed to be less corrupt than Kenya, and 33 countries are more corrupt. For comparison, the 180th country was Somalia whereas the 1st was Denmark. And interestingly, Kenya is among the chart-topping nations in terms of remunerating its leaders, with President Kibaki toppling many of the world’s richest states. President Kibaki’s annual salary and benefits top the earnings of President Barack Obama of the United States, the world’s most powerful nation, by more than Sh3 million a year. It also overshadows that of leaders of other world leading economies such as Germany, Russia, Japan, Canada, the United Kingdom and Australia. At Sh2 million a month ($26,000) basic salary, President Kibaki earns Sh24 million ($312,000) a year, slightly higher than German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s $303,000. Germany is Europe’s largest economy, and the world’s fifth. Kenyan mps are among the best paid law makers in the world as far as I know. To them (I call them greedy fellows) the amount they earn isn’t enough and unfortunately they are always agitating for a salary increase. Here is what a Kenyan member of parliament makes in a month (30 days to be exact) • Basic salary sh.395,000 • Entertainment allowance sh.60000 • House allowance sh.70, 000 • Car maintenance allowance sh.247, 000 • Gym membership sh.2000 • Vehicle fixed cost allowance. Sh.336, 000 • Committee meeting allowance sh.40, 000 • Constituency allowance sh.50, 000 A grand total amount of shillings 1.2 million which is equivalent to $14,118 The World Bank estimates that Kenya’s poverty level stands at 44 to 46 per cent, which is almost the same level it has remained for six years. However, it represents an improvement from 12 years ago when poverty level stood at 56 per cent before falling to 46 per cent in 2005/6. While some progress has been made in meeting Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), the World Bank estimates that the battle is far from won. Unemployment Rate in Kenya increased to 40 percent in 2011 from 12.70 percent in 2006. Unemployment Rate in Kenya is reported by the Kenya National Bureau of Statistics. Historically, from 1999 until 2011, Kenya Unemployment Rate averaged 22.4 Percent reaching an all time high of 40.0 Percent in December of 2011 and a record low of 12.7 Percent in December of 2006. In Kenya, the unemployment rate measures the number of people actively looking for a job as a percentage of the labour force. Food insecurity in Kenya has been a major challenge that has faced the country for many years plunging majority of Kenyans especially low incomer earners into abject poverty. The latest index indicates that the national poverty levels stands at 47 per cent and it might increase if inflation rates, shilling volatility and poor farming methods are not curbed early. High inflation rates that stand at 18 percent as of October are the highest levels ever to be recorded in the country since independence. These levels have mainly being fuelled by high food and fuel prices. Surge in international food prices from 2008 has raised the price of food, hurting low income earners. Being that majority of Kenyans spend over 50 percent of their household incomes on food alone these rates have increased food insecurity and living cost in the country pushing Kenyans to a concrete economic corner. *** All that said, and given the fact that our M.Ps just sneaked in yet another proposal to award themselves an outrageous send off package totalling Ksh 9.1 Millions; as a people, we are expectantly waiting for His Excellency the President of the republic of Kenya (Emilio Mwai Kibaki) to hearken to our heartfelt please...our deep felt concerns about the economic impact such an evil gesture will have to our beloved nation. As the minutes tickled by; bringing even closer the much anticipated ‘date’ with the shrewd bunch of Legislators, I feverishly hope that we will be able to cast our votes peacefully come March 4th 2013. And just many other distraught Kenyans, I honestly hope that we’ve learnt our lessons the hard way (as the electorate) and that never again are we going to entrust our hard-earned sweat in sly & corrupt politicians. I know we are much wiser now. We’ve had our share of the bitter lemons that have been time and again handed down by the big men and women who abandoned our social amenities, never bothered about the impassable roads back at our villages and worst, enacted laws that have made our ‘has been miserable’ lives not any better than five years ago! As we prepare to embrace the electioneering period, let us remember that while we’ve peacefully co-existed, inter-married, interacted in our workplaces and laughed and cried together as purely Kenyans; we’ve also learn that turning against a brother is meaningless, barbaric, demeaning and inhuman. We must also put in mind that Kenya will forever remain far much bigger than any one single tribe, an individual or even a political party affiliation. © 2013 Cheruo Levi Cheptora

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