Civil society groups yesterday ‘occupied parliament’ yet again in a peaceful demonstration dubbed ‘occupy parliament reloaded’. As advertised earlier on posters across the streets in Nairobi and its environs prior to the demonstration, the demonstrators assembly point was Uhuru Park where they said a prayer before proceeding to parliament grounds.
Kenyans, especially via social media, had displayed their curiosity to see what the demonstrators were going to use this time round to display their disgust at MPs greed, after the use of pigs with the names of MPs in the forefront of the salary increment daubed on them in the previous demonstration staged on the 11th may.
Blood money and a dummy of a pig and her piglets were the symbols of yesterday’s occupy parliament reloaded demonstration and what was left around parliament is what we can simply call a ‘bloody show’.
From a distance one might want to imagine that it was just red food colour, or paint but according to sources on the scene, the stench around parliament will tell you that it was indeed real blood. Placards with words like “wakenya hawana pesa”/”Kenyans do not have money”, and “We elected robbers” among other slogans, were also all over the place.
There was drama when one of the police officers combing the scene to avert any possible chaos confiscated the car keys to a van that had been used to ferry the paraphernalia used in the demonstration and the demonstrators led by renowned photo journalist and activist Boniface Mwangi, demanded to have the keys back in good faith, failure to which the crowd would be provoked to get rowdy.
Finally, after a long struggle the cop gave in to their demands and true to their words the demonstrators slowly walked away from the scene, hoping that their message had been driven home.
NATIONAL ASSEMBLY CARRIES ON REGARDLESS
Quite conspicuous was that unlike in previous demonstrations where the speaker of the National Assembly would instruct someone to address demonstrators, this time no one seamed to pay attention as business went as usual in the august House, perhaps oblivious of the situation outside.
According to the organizers of the demonstration they hope that the greedy MPs, who have been nicknamed MPIGS, get the message and that something will be done, failure to which they will be back at it again and again adding that MPs should be content with what they are being paid, or simply quit if the salary is too small. “Kenyans are ready to elect someone who is ready to work with what is offered”, one of the demonstrators was quoted saying.
Unlike in the previous demonstration where anti riot police officers were forced to use tears gas to disperse the demonstrators, this time round the demonstration was peaceful.
MPS BATTLE FOR BIG MONEY
The ‘Occupy Parliament’ demonstrations were sparked off by the efforts of disgruntled MPs to have the Salaries And Renumeration Commission (SRC )disbanded after the later advocated a slash in their salary from Ksh 851,000 to Ksh 532,000. However, following a directive by President Uhuru on Monday last week that the matter be put to rest as fast as possible, an agreement between the besieged Sarah Serem-led SRC and Parliamentary Service Commission (PSC) headed by speaker of National Assembly Justus Muturi, was reached on Friday last week, seemingly laying to rest the three month salary row. As at yesterday noon, it appeared as though MPs had gotten their way and would earn the same salary as their predecessors in the Tenth Parliament.
…BUT SALARIES COMMISSION PREVAILS
The 616 mps, 349 members of the National Assembly and 67 Senators will now be paid a taxable monthly salary of Ksh 532,000 which is set to increase by Ksh 44,375 every year. This means that by the 5th year in office, an MPs salary will have risen to Ksh. 710,000. It’s reported that Deputy President William Ruto hosted the talks between the two teams. The new pay however comes with new benefits.However, as it emerged after the parliament proceedings, MPs had lost the fight over pay as parliament agreed to the pay set by the Sarah Serem Commission.
Kenyan MPs are among the best paid in the world despite Kenya being ranked as one of the worlds 30 poorest countries ranking 152 out of 177 countries on the 2006 Human Development Index. More than a half of the country’s population live below the poverty line i.e. surviving on less that one US dollar a day and its therefore not hard to understand why wananchi call MPs “wenye nchi”/”The owners of the nation”!