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Kenya’s President Ruto Orders Review Of Politician Salary Hikes

KENYA’S President William Ruto has called for a review of plans to raise the salaries of cabinet members and parliamentarians following significant public discontent. This decision comes just a week after mass protests led to the withdrawal of a controversial finance bill that included tax increases.

The public began questioning how salaries for politicians, including governors, could be raised amid a financial crisis. The Salaries and Remuneration Commission (SRC) had recommended a 2 percent to 5 percent pay increase for all state officials, including judges. This recommendation, issued last year, proposed that the increases take effect from the beginning of this month.

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However, Public Service Minister Moses Kuria announced that he would not implement the increases for the cabinet. President Ruto, who abandoned the tax hike plans after widespread protests over the cost of living, has vowed to reduce government spending.

Several lawmakers, including ruling coalition senator Aaron Cheruiyot and opposition party MP Adan Keynan, have criticised the proposed salary increase, calling it ‘tone-deaf.’ Opposition senator Edwin Sifuna also argued that higher salaries could not be justified when the nation is calling for reduced taxpayer burdens.

Despite these criticisms, Samuel Njoroge, clerk of the National Assembly, told the People Daily newspaper that the SRC’s recommendation could not be overturned as it affected all state officers. ‘The changes are normal salary reviews or increments in any organisation,’ he said.

In response, President Ruto has asked the treasury to review the notice. ‘The president has emphasised that this is a time, more than ever before, for the executive and all arms of government to live within their means,’ stated his spokesman.

Last week’s protests, primarily led by young people, were the largest since President Ruto took office in 2022. The demonstrations, initially sparked by the finance bill and tax hikes, have evolved into calls for Ruto’s resignation and demands for justice over the killing of protesters. The state-funded rights commission estimates that 39 people have been killed in the protests over the last two weeks.

On Tuesday, the protests escalated into looting of shops and supermarkets. Police have released images of 38 individuals wanted for ‘engaging in lawlessness.’ Some young Kenyans involved in organising the protests claimed that hired ‘goons’ had infiltrated the demonstrations, leading them to reassess their strategy and consider calling off the protests altogether.

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