Thursday, March 24, 2005

Revolving doors or lack there of.

"An MP, once done with parliament, cannot be employed anywhere" Raphael Wanjala (sourced from thinker's room (IQ Plus): http://thinkersroom.blogspot.com/

Since it was announced that MPs are planning to allocate themselves a 1.5 million shilling golden handshake, a lot has been said about the irresponsibility of this project. This coupled with the constant raises and perks that legislators award themselves, got me thinking. Why does this happen in Kenya? why do politicians think that being an MP is a get rich quickly scheme?

I have come to a tentative - obviously not complete answer - it is more lucrative to earn money while in government than out of it.

This is in stark contrast to the US where one uses a government job as a stepping stone to better things. For example, former Homeland Security head Tom Ridge was open in saying that he wanted to leave his $170,000 job in the public sector, for better things in the rivate sector. He left government and is now on the Board of Home depot. The same goes for; former administrator of NASA, Sean O'keefe, who is now chancellor of Louisiana State University, former secretary of Health Tommy Thompson, who is earning good money as a partner in a prestigous D.C law firm and consultancy and Former minority house leader Dick Gephardt, who is about to join Golman Sachs. According to Bloomberg, 12 of the 48 legislators who left their jobs in January, are now working as lobbyists, and the rest have acquired high paying gigs as consultants etc. They left their $155,000 a year jobs for $1,000,000 plus jobs in the private sector.

This is obviously different from their Kenyan counterparts who, as Wanjala noted, find it hard to get employment. I can vaguely remember an article the EA Standard had in 2003 (or 2004(, that profiled a number of former MPs (deposed in 2002): Njeru Kathangu, Wanyiri Kihoro, Steve Ndicho amongst others. I believe that the jist of the story was that they had fallen from grace, and were finding it hard to survive outside of parliament.

Me thinketh that we need to find a way to make it that it is more lucrative to be in the private sector than in the public sector. This will obviously take a long time, and will mean massive growth of the private sector, but I think it is probably the only way that we can curb the get rich quick schemes of MPs, as well as, public sector corruption.

4 Comments:

Anonymous Mama JunkYard said...

...I am always doubtful of what I read in the papers.

From what I know of Mr Wanyiri Kihoro - he seems to be doing fine.

10:13 PM  
Blogger M said...

1) I heard the dude say those words with a straight face on TV. It's a good thing Reality TV never came to fruition otherwise he'd be removing a brick from his mug

2) It is a blatant attempt for MPs to seek public funding for their campaigns. Which in effect means if you're trying for a seat and are not rich,you're buggered

3) I don't think it is entirely a good idea to make the private sector more lucrative than the public. If anything we should make the public more attractive. Otherwise all the great minds and action oriented people will never take up public offices and we will continue to have half baked igrorant fossils running our affairs (like we do now),a sure recipe for failure of the country

4) It is hyporcicy for MPs to give themsevlves power to remove the president from office and then decline to give voters the same facility. I'd rather not have a new constitution but add that one clause to the old one. Almost 90% of our sitting MPs are as useful as powdered water

4:26 AM  
Blogger Githush said...

M,

On number three, we may have some disagreement. I am not sure that we can afford to make the public sector as competitive and as lucrative as the private sector, case in point, the NATION had an expose on the financial difficulties affecting foreign ministry, and pointed out that some folks were earning 500,000 a month to move from private to the public, I doubt that this can be sustainable in the long run.

Consider in the US, cabinet secretaries (and others), leave high paying jobs for relatively low paying jobs. For example, current Commerce secretary left his job as Kellogg's CEO (where he was earning a couple million bucks a year), to earn $170,000 a year as commerce Secretary.

Obviously something needs to be done, we need to return the prestige that once came with having a government job. This will obviously mean massive reform of the public sector, making it less corrupt and making it more attractive for its other perks, other than a huge paycheck.

On number 2, I agree with you on that one, that is why I think that the proposal would probably be more effective if it was given to those who are actually leaving the august house, after they lose or simply after the election. This would make it more palatable, but I would still not support the idea.

On 4, I wholeheartedly agree with you on that one, Kenyans need to be given an opportunity to recall wayward MPs. However, it should not be a very easy process to do so, it should take a huge majority of voters to do so.

2:30 PM  
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