Kenyan MPs' bonus: Protesters march to parliament

Kenyan demonstrators march in Nairobi on 9 October 2012 after lawmakers voted themselves a bonus The demonstrators shouted "thief" at every MP that drove past

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Angry demonstrators in Kenya have marched to parliament to protest about a huge bonus MPs have voted to award themselves.

Lawmakers in Kenya are among the highest paid MPs in Africa, receiving a salary of about $10,000 (£6,200) a month.

The bonus of more than $105,000 each is to be paid when parliament breaks up ahead of elections due in March 2013.

Analysts says tax increases are likely in order to foot the $23m bill.

'Selfish and unpatriotic'

The BBC's Frenny Jowi in the capital, Nairobi, says the revelation about the send-off bonus for the 222 MPs has angered many people, coming as it does after strikes in the public sector.

It was passed late on Thursday night as part of a last-minute amendment to the Finance Act, she says.

A Kenyan MP's earnings

Current earnings:

  • Monthly salary of 850,000 Kenyan shillings ($9,982), of which $2,350 is taxed
  • "Sitting allowance" of $25 for each appearance in parliament
  • Another "sitting allowance" of $25 is paid for each parliamentary committee meeting attended

Proposed bonus:

  • One-off bonus of more than $105,000 - to be paid at the end of the parliamentary term

In September all schools were closed for three weeks and public hospitals only took emergencies as demands were made for better pay and working conditions.

According to the AFP news agency, someone earning the minimum wage in Kenya would have to work for 61 years to earn the equivalent of an MP's proposed bonus.

Our reporter says a large crowd stopped traffic on the main road outside President Mwai Kibaki's office in Nairobi.

They then marched towards parliament and have camped outside, chanting "mwizi", which means thief in KiSwahili, when any MP drives by.

"When you look at the situation the country is in right now, we have problems with teachers, we have problems in the health care sector. It is just selfish, it is unpatriotic and plain stupid," one woman at the demonstration told the BBC.

Boniface Mwangi, one of the organisers of the march who earlier this year joined activists to paint murals in the city portraying MPs as vultures, called for a "ballot revolution" to get rid of avaricious politicians at the next election.

He told the BBC the send-off package was "like a thank you token for doing nothing".

The change to the Finance Act still needs to be signed into law by Mr Kibaki - who stands down as president next year after two terms in office.

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