A question which has been constantly asked is, what is wrong with politicians on the continent? What does the average African politician really want in when they hold public office? Who are they really serving, personal interests or they have a wholly altruistic desire to make a positive difference for the citizens and communities? The latter is much harder to fathom and justify. Barely two weeks ago, Members of Parliament (MPs) in Sierra Leone demanded a 300% increase in their salaries. In a similar case, Kenya’s 416 parliamentarians demanded to be provided with rent-free houses, a government vehicle, an expanded medical cover, and travel allowances in a new proposed bill. MPs in Zimbabwe were recently demanding for the purchase of new vehicles as the country battled a cholera outbreak. They are not the only ones demanding an increase in payment or better welfare conditions. Their counterparts in Lesotho are demanding a 100% increment in salary.
The MPs in Lesotho earn a monthly salary of $2,600 (M37,000) a figure they want doubled to $5,300 (M74,000). Lesotho parliamentarians are pushing to have pensions after serving for two years. A pension is however given to those who serve two five-year terms, the Lesotho Times reported. A parliamentarian in Lesotho earns more than 12 times what the average factory worker who earns $144 (M2000).
Self serving interests?
Governance in Africa has proven to be expensive for many countries. With the greed and demands of politicians for more money, it brings into focus the lost priorities many politicians on the continent have. Since 2010, the US congress has annually voted not to accept an increase in salary, making them earn the same salary from 2009 till now. A US senator earns $174,000 per annum.
According to Africa Check, Kenyan MPs take home between $127,000 to $158,000 annually. The budget for Kenya’s parliament was 2% of the national budget. For countries with a population between 10 and 50 million, the global average was 0.57%. With allowances sometimes being higher than the basic pay of parliamentarians, there is a need to revisit these allowances especially when doctors and nurses are paid far less, and other workers in the civil service are also srtuggling to make ends meet, and basic services and amenities are missing.
We at This Is Africa hope that you will continue to hold your leaders accountable and add your voice to demand for better governance.