I don’t care for Uhuru Kenyatta. Not for his programs, not for his posse and certainly not for his politics. In fact I don’t care for any of the current day politics. Not like I used to. Maybe I was just naïve back then but (Kenyan) politics seemed a lot more interesting. Raila Odinga was interesting. The way he rallied the masses, cracked football jokes and confused us with vitendawilis. The man knew how to play the game. And not since his exit has any other politician held my attention.
But Uhuru has tried. And failed. Miserably. Maybe he never actually tried, in which case my point is moot. You know, moo like a cow. But soldier on with it I must, so soldier on with it I will.
And since something must be said about his intention to attract attention by reducing the wage bill, it might as well be said here.
If Uhuru really wanted to reduce the wage bill, he should have started off by relinquishing his salary. Every last cent that he earns from the public coffers. Maybe kept the allowances but let go of the paycheck. Kenyatta is on the Forbes list of Africa’s 40 wealthiest people and leads a country of masses who survive on less than a dollar a day for heaven’s sakes. Forfeiting 1.2 million shillings (just under 14,000 US dollars) every month would surely be a small sacrifice for a man who’s net worth is over 40 billion shillings (500 million US dollars). But apparently, every cent that goes to his fortune counts. His idea of reducing the wage bill is taking a measly 20% pay cut from his salary. In effect, he then gets 960,000 shillings per month- still way more than what the majority that he leads can ever dream of earning in a lifetime.
In all fairness, it’s not Uhuru’s fault that over 50% of the country’s income is spent on paying salaries. The blame lies squarely on the Kibaki government. But that’s another problem for another day. Today this is the problem that Uhuru Kenyatta has to solve.
If the president, very rich president I must add, had relinquished his pay, he might have actually shamed the rest of his posse into taking a pay cut that would actually make a significant difference to the current wage bill, and in a manner that would be conducive with the country’s economic status. But more importantly, in the process, he would have won the hearts of very many (naïve?) Kenyans. George Washington did it for a while, so did John F. Kennedy and more recently, Jose Mujica, the president of Uruguay gave up 90% of his salary and currently earns 1,250 US dollars per month. In his words:” “I do fine with that amount; I have to do fine because there are many Uruguayans who live with much less,”
CNN, BBC et al gave Uhuru Kenyatta’s declaration airtime, but not nearly as much as they would have if he had anticipated my advice. I mean the man would have gone down in history books the first and only African president who made a sacrifice for ‘his people’ (even though most of us know better). My point is, in the final analysis, he would have lost very little (relatively) and come out looking like the millions of shillings he would have sacrificed in his 5 year term as president; more still, if he actually made it in round two- which, with such a sacrifice would not be so farfetched. Because that, your Excellency President Uhuru Kenyatta, is how one plays politics.