In a country that prides itself in having a weekly solution to all the problems that disturb us, the latest one seems to have everyone on frayed nerves.
Almost all government employees are daring it to touch their payslips, and the debate is moving from the real issue, an unsustainable wage bill, to petty issues of threats and blackmail. The real issue, i think, is not about paycuts and the percentages, but that we have as a country adopted an ‘i don’t care’ attitude, yet we always feign shock and anger whenever, eventually, the chickens come home to roost.
Right now the issue is the ballooning wage bill, 43% of the National budget, a percentage unrealistic for a developing country. The question every Kenyan should be asking themselves is if no government body got an overnight payrise, where did the disparity come from ? That means the issue existed, but nobody cared to ask any questions, a few times it popped up when the IMF came callin, but nobody took the issue seriously, and now, its threatening to derail our development agenda.
A look at our elections reveals the same trend, right now, a lot of governors are facing threats of impeachment, and the general mood is that a lot of M.Ps should be recalled. During elections, nobody cares to do a background check on the person that should represent your opinion in Parliament, all we care about, is ‘winning’ elections, a ‘win’ negated by the fact that most elected officials are battling integrity cases in court. Little wonder therefore, that audit reports reveal massive financial irregularities, so much for ‘winning’ elections.
Nobody cares to review salaries of our service providers, very few care that cops earn in a month what some senior government officials, earn in a few days of travel allowances. Yet we will forever curse our police force for being too eager to sell their powers to serve and protect to the highest bidder. The same thing applies to our nurses, our clerks, our prosecutors, our judges.
We will feign surprise at news that our rivers are choking in waste, but we are the same people who throw plastics, and litter out of cars, dump industrial waste in rivers, and gape at the murky waters in our rivers. Nobody cares to obey traffic rules, our drivers are almost always drunk or drugged up, our cars are unroadworthy, our roads are comparable to farms, yet we are shocked at our gridlocked roads, and road carnage statistics.
Nobody cares to sit their children down, educate them on the dangers of alchohol, sex, drugs, bad company, yet parents will act surprised at scenes from ‘Daylight Insomnia’, Nobody cares to check their househelp’s background, as long as she comes in cheap, yet we foam at the mouth when we find out our kids are learning porn, and foul language from them.
The debate on the wage bill will rage on, with threats, and counter-threats, but the real issue, the one that everyone knows but ignores, is that unless we start caring about what goes on in our country, not even 50% pay cuts will stem corruption, which by the way, is the real cause of our lack of development.