1. In a county where 50% of Kenyans cannot afford a meal a day for their children, the Government can still afford to support a social welfare programme for the Members of Parliament and has even gone ahead to increase the tax burden on Kenyans by swearing in a bloated cabinet. Worse still, the prices of basic food items such as Unga, sugar and paraffin continue to skyrocket without any intervention from the Government.
We are citizens drawn from different groupings of grassroot Kenyans meeting under the umbrella of Bunge La Mwananchi. We want to state that the ongoing celebration of the grand coalition is wholly a political class affair that the ordinary Kenyan has no part in. The grand coalition government has concentrated on rewarding regional balance among the political elite without any social balance amongst Kenyans.
The issues that Kenyans hoped would be dealt with in the power sharing deal were not and have remained as follows:
2. The Government is insensitive to ordinary Kenyans’ plight. For example, on the pretext of decongesting the city, the local government has recently relegated ordinary Kenyans outside town, forcing them to walk long distances to get to work since they cannot afford the additional fare required to use the shuttle buses. It is actually the political class who own as much as one car per family member, which congest the city centre.
3. Crime and insecurity is on the increase especially in the slums areas such as Muthurwa estate while in the same country the Government provides the president with 500 guards, the prime minister 120, each minister at least 2, and each MP at least 1 – yet they all live in safe neighbourhoods.
4. The larger Nairobi population especially in slums such as Dandora, Kibera and Mathare live in squalid conditions without electricity, running water, proper toilet facilities and with broken sewerage systems and poor garbage management, despite paying heavy taxes to the Government.
5. Young people are continuously harassed by police who arrest them on trumped up charges of idling. Further, in areas such as Eastleigh police arrest people for not having national identity cards and yet it is the same Government system that makes it difficult for these people to obtain the IDs.
6. The minimum wage for grassroot Kenyans is not commensurate to their hard work. For example casual labourers work 7 days a week, 30 days a month and are paid as little as K.Shs. 100/= per day while MPs work only 3 days a week, 12 days a month and are paid a monthly salary of K.Shs. 1.1 million. If the Government raised this minimum wage then employers would be legally bound to pay casual workers adequately.
We, grassroot Kenyans, taxpayers and employers of our politicians are adamant that if there is enough money for the political class’ social welfare programme, it is enough to go round to all Kenyans. If the Government can afford to provide each of the 222 MPs with:
(a) Free official car (Mercedes Benz, Prado, Range Rover);
(b) Free K.Shs. 3.3 million for a family car;
(c) Free K.Shs. 8 million to buy a family house;
(d) Free K.Shs. 1.1 million salary for working only 12 days in a month; and
(e) Free allowances for airtime, fuel, insurance and constituency allowance,
then it is very possible to provide:
(a) Zero rate tax on essential commodities so that baby food is free and the price of 2kg unga is 30/=, 1 kg sugar is 40/= and 1 litre paraffin is 35/= and no more;
(b) All young people over 18 years who are able and willing to work but have no jobs with K.Shs. 20,000/= monthly living wages to cater for 5,000/= food allowance, 5,000/= house allowance, 3,000/= transport allowance and 7,000/= medical allowance;
(c) All senior citizens who worked in mainstream un-pensionable jobs and contributed to Kenya’s development through their taxes with a monthly pension of K.Shs. 30,000/= (only 10% of MPs retirement allowance) and free medical care; and
(d) K.Shs. 40,000/= as the minimum taxable income.
The Government of Kenya is put on notice that it has only seven days to remove taxes on essential commodities e.g. flour, rice, sugar, oil, and 3 months in which to put in place mechanisms for addressing the other issues; failure to which we will organize a citizens’ mass demonstration in Nairobi and other parts of the country to dramatise our concerns.
We invite all Kenyans to join their fellow ordinary Kenyans in setting the agenda for our leaders.
For Bunge La Mwananchi: