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Aged ex-MP living in squalor and solitude

By Caroline Nyanga Njonjo Kihuria | Published Tue, November 14th 2017 at 11:04, Updated November 14th 2017 at 11:10 GMT +3
Former Kwale MP Kassim Mwamzadi during an interview at his home in Bomani, Mombasa. (Photo: Njonjo Kihuria/Standard)

IN SUMMARY

  • Mwamzadi served in the regimes of Jomo Kenyatta and Daniel arap Moi for three decades
  • The former MP laments that the recommendation of the Akiwumi Commission that sought to raise the pension of former MPs to $1,000 dollars has not been implemented

At a small trading centre known as Bomani, along the Ukunda-Lunga Lunga highway, resides an ageing former Member of Parliament in a cluster of three old houses.

In each house, lives one of his three wives and their children. Mzee Kassim Mwamzadi, whose fourth wife died a while ago, owns a fourth house a short distance away across the highway.

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Under a mango tree outside the house that is closest to the dusty village road, stands an old Pajero SUV reminiscent of Wahome Mutahi ‘Whispers’ column days, its wheels caked with mud from a recent downpour.

His home

Inside the house, on an old cloth sofa set, a frail looking Mzee Mwamzadi dressed in a checked shirt, beige trousers and a white Muslim cap, sits reading one of the local dailies. On a dining table covered with a frayed plastic mat to his right, rests an old television set. On the same table, a white/grey cat enjoys an afternoon nap.

On a small coffee table equally covered and in front of the old man, there is a packet of Embassy cigarettes and a match box.

Mwamzadi, who served in the regimes of Jomo Kenyatta and Daniel arap Moi for three decades, warmly, but with a hesitant voice, welcomes us to his humble home. Once in a while, a neighbour knocks on the door and enters the house to either return a newspaper he had borrowed from the old man or to borrow one.

But the 77-year-old who is now ailing, lives a simple village life on a pension of Sh20,000. This has steadily risen from the initial Sh7,000.

“Some of us, the founding members of the Kenyan Parliament, live under very difficult conditions and many have died miserable men. My first salary as an MP was Sh833 and by the time I left 30 years later as an assistant minister, I was earning about Sh70,000.”

Akiwumi report

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The former MP laments that the recommendation of the Akiwumi Commission that sought to raise the pension of former MPs to $1,000 dollars has not been implemented.

“The reason the Act was not signed into law is because some of the intended beneficiaries refused to quit active politics. Those of us who are no longer in politics are being punished for mistakes not of our making. This is a big shame to the country,” he says.

The man who would not count his children but says they are more than 18 (he calls them his football team), does not own any other home apart from the four houses in Bomani.

“How could I afford a house in Nairobi or Mombasa? I left government as an assistant minister with a salary of Sh70,000. What magnificent home could that salary buy?”

Mwamzadi, who became an MP at age 23, first served as an assistant minister in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs from 1975, then went to the Energy docket, Water Development and finally worked in the ministry of Public Works.

Before becoming an MP, Mwamzadi worked as a clerk in the African Court, but it was a job he did not particularly like.

“Seeing people being sent to jail every day, was not my cup of tea,” he says.

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He recalls that during the colonial period, there was only one primary school in Msambweni where he went to school, another one in Vanga and one at the Ramisi Sugar factory, which was exclusively for Indians.

Built schools

He is proud that during the time he served as an MP, many primary and secondary schools were built.

However, he says very few people today recognise what he did to uplift the education standards of Kwale.

He says “life out of political limelight is calmer and you get fewer headaches, but unfortunately you also lose your friends when you come down from such an exalted position as I had in government. Nobody comes to see me anymore. I have far less activities and that is why I have to buy and read newspapers every day”.


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