Kenyan president recommends salary review after outcry


Kenyan President William Ruto has ordered a review of plans to increase the salaries of cabinet and parliament members, following public outcry.

It comes a week after mass protests forced Ruto to drop a controversial finance bill, which included tax hikes.

People began to wonder how the salaries of politicians, including governors, could be increased amid a perceived financial crisis.

The 2% to 5% pay increase for all state officials, including judges, was recommended by the Salaries and Remuneration Commission (SRC), a state-affiliated commission.

Last year, the bank issued a statement proposing that the increases would come into effect from the beginning of this month.

However, Public Services Minister Moses Kuria has said he will not implement the increases “as applicable” to the Cabinet.

Mr Ruto abandoned his plans to raise taxes after protesters complained they could not afford the taxes as they were already hit by the sharp rise in the cost of living.

Several lawmakers, including Aaron Cheruiyot, a senator from the ruling coalition, have called on parliament to reject the pay rise.

Adan Keynan, an opposition party MP with ties to the government, expressed a similar view, saying the SRC was “deaf to the tone”.

While opposition leader Edwin Sifuna said higher salaries could not be justified “when the whole country is saying we need to lighten the burden on taxpayers”.

On Tuesday, Samuel Njoroge, Clerk of the National Assembly, told People Daily newspaper that the SRC recommendation could not be withdrawn as it covered all state officials.

“The changes are normal salary increases or appraisals in any organization,” he was quoted as saying.

But Mr Ruto has asked the Ministry of Finance to review the notification.

“The President has emphasized that this is a time, more than ever before, for the executive branch and all branches of government to live within their means,” a statement from his spokesman said.

Last week’s youth-led protests were the largest in Kenya since Ruto took office in 2022.

The demonstrations have since escalated into calls for his resignation and demands that security forces be brought to justice for killing the protesters.

The state-funded Human Rights Commission estimates that 39 people have been killed in the protests over the past two weeks.

On Tuesday, the protests appeared to descend into anarchy as shops and supermarkets were looted.

Police have released photos of 38 people wanted for “lawlessness”.

Some young Kenyans involved in organising the protests alleged that hired “thugs” had infiltrated the demonstrations.

They said they were rethinking their strategy and even considering calling off the protests altogether.

Protesters gather in the city centre and light a fire as they march to the parliament building to protest the 'Financial Bill 2024'Protesters gather in the city centre and light a fire as they march to the parliament building to protest the 'Financial Bill 2024'

Kenya has been hit by the largest protests since President Ruto took office (Getty Images)

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