Clad in her striped full dress, wearing her sun glasses that complement her short hair, giving her a formal but frigid look; the Chairperson of Salaries and Remuneration Commission Sarah Serem settled on her chair to deliver speech to the media.
The speech which was to be delivered at Riverside Nairobi on July 10, 2017 which was certainly going to have mixed reception from Kenyans. Her speech would follow a long duration of time, where the government decried the ballooning wage bill that the treasury said was crippling development.
As matter of fact, Serem’s speech would be a melodious musical to the common mwananchi, but a nuisance of the highest modicum to the political elite.
“For state officers, the commission is this morning announcing the reviewed salary structures for the period between 2017 and 2022…The state officers include the president, deputy president, speaker, governor, senators, Mps, MCAs among many others,” Serem said as she began her speech.
Serem’s decision was later considered abrasive after it turned out that her salary review meant that the hefty sitting and mileage allowances that were enjoyed by the members of parliament would be history.
What ensued was mixture of applause and condemnation. Some Kenyans thought of salary review at the height of electioneering period as political gimmick that Jubilee party wanted to exploit. However, there are those who considered Serem’s decision as timely and relevant in salvaging the public resources.
Legislators on their part castigated Serem by terming her decision as majorly witch-hunt. While she tied her decisions to the pressing needs to cut the government expenditure, most legislators faulted SRC for ‘trying so hard to make them poor.’
Homa Bay Women County Representative Gladys Wanga who was a member of the Parliamentary Service Commission took a swipe at the Serem-led commission after the August 8 election for slashing their salaries, adding that they have lots of responsibilities on their plate.
“A member we know has two work stations, one is the constituency and another in parliament here. When you say that a member cannot be provided with a grant to buy a vehicle perform his or her functions then you are being unfair,” stated Wanga.
This war did not only involve the Homa-Bay legislator but also a host of many other members of parliament who voiced their dissatisfaction with SRC. As Serem-team vacates office following the expiry of their term, the new team that will be picked may still be poised to have a battle convincing members of parliament about pay cuts.