As workers and taxpayers of this country, we were shocked and disgusted yesterday that President Mwai Kibaki and Prime Minister Raila Odinga refused to attend the Uhuru Park workers' day celebrations.
We wish to inform Mr. Mwai Kibaki and Mr. Raila Odinga that they are Kenyans’ leaders both in good and bad times. That they skipped the workers’ day celebration is an utter shame and a slap in the face of workers whose sweat produces the very revenue that runs their government. The same commitment with which they met the people as they sought our votes is the minimum manner in which voters expected the principals to meet their promises towards bettering Kenyans’ welfare.
It is grossly apparent that they feared meeting the “hungry and angry” workers because despite the escalating cost of living and the dwindling purchasing power of Kenyans, the President and Prime Minister have up until now not figured out practical safety measures to cushion citizens against runaway commodity prices. We are also aware that they did not come to the celebrations because they were ashamed of the dishonorable minimum wage increment proposal that was to be announced during Ladbor Day celebration.
We are wondering for how long will President and Prime Minister continue to hide from the electorate and sustainable and practical that strategy is. However it is very clear that the wage increment by 12.5% that was announced yesterday by Minister John Munyes on behalf of the government is reactionary, too little and out of touch with the realities that poor workers are enduring daily. Are the President and Prime Minister aware that inflation in this country currently stands at 12 percent? Are they aware what for a mother three living in the slums or poor rural household? Are they aware that their decisions in handling this situation could either precipitate or dissipate the desperate measures of a desperate people?
Many poor Kenyans who despite their long hard hours at work continue to endure the embarrassment and heartache of seeing their children go to bed hungry and angry because they cannot afford the sky rocketing price of unga and sukuma wiki, had hoped that by now the top leadership of this country would have found practical actions to mitigate in the short term, and avert in the long term, against the pangs of the prevailing hard economic times.
The upward spiraling food and fuel prices have pushed Kenyans, especially the poor, into extraordinary times that require extraordinary leadership. However, it is unfortunate that the leadership of President Mwai Kibaki and Premier Raila Odinga is grossly wanting against the crisis this country faces. What is needed is creative, radical and decisive leadership that is willing to push every segment of our Society to share the burden of the prevailing economic crisis. It is either food for everybody or food for nobody!
Some emergency and practical steps that can be taken by the President and Prime Minister to set an example by slashing their salaries by half and move ahead to call on Members of Parliament to follow suit. The politicians could then use the new found moral authority to push for corporate CEOs make similar sacrifice as a measure to share the burden of their poor employees, who are hardest hit; this will effectively reduce income disparities and spread the limited available national income amongst all of us.
We call upon the President and Prime Minister to come out of hiding and face their citizens, their electorate, in the absence of which, there is a growing dissatisfaction amongst the masses at the absence, failed or lack thereof leadership. In this extraordinary time, something must give and our leaders must be warned that if they are not part of the solution they will be dealt with as part of the problem.
We have no doubt that Kenyans can be better cushioned if the government put the people first in their policy making.
National Coordinator: Bunge la Mwananchi