Nothing is free in Freetown it’s been said so often that the Members of Parliament in Sierra Leone have opted for a 300% increase in their salary. The MPs are demanding an increase of their salaries from $1,500 (12.7M Leones) to $4400 (37M Leones) per month. In the Sierra Leonean parliament, vehicle allowance is $13,000 per term, medical allowance is $5,000annually, rent allowance is $20,000 annually and wardrobe allowance is $5,000 per term.
The salaries of lawmakers across Africa have always been a subject of debate. The glamour, and instant wealth many lawmakers get once they are elected into parliament has made the position not for service but for self-aggrandisement. Unfortunately, when the salaries of ministers and MPs are compared to that of other civil servants, doctors, and teachers, the discrepancy is appalling. Many have suggested that teachers and doctors should be paid the salaries of politicians and politicians should be paid the salaries of teachers and doctors.
In Sierra Leone, doctors are paid $400, while State Registered Nurses are paid $130. The pathetic pay of important positions to the public has been continually overlooked, not just in Sierra Leone, but on the continent. As Sierra Leonean MPs demand for higher wages, Sierra Leonean doctors under the Junior Doctors Association (JUDASIL) went on strike demanding better pay.
The situation on the continent where doctors are underpaid has made many professionals to emigrate to countries such as Canada and the United Kingdom where their expertise would be better appreciated. The brain drain on the continent continues, leaving the populace with fewer health professional, while more politicians run abroad for treatment.
While a country like Senegal took the bold step of scrapping its Senate in 2012 thus saving itself $15m, other countries such Nigeria and Kenya continue to heavily sustain politicians through tax payer’s money. It’s high time African countries reviewed their system of governments.