This is what I think. The idea to reduce the high public wage bill is a noble one. Our traditional development partners have quietly stopped sponsoring certain projects they used to sponsor. It means there is no money. The high wage bill is not the culprit. â€ª#â€Žchoiceshaveconsequencsâ€¬ is the real culprit.
However we cannot plead with them traditional development partners even though China cannot effectively salvage us. We are a sovereign nation and we have our dignity. We can make sacrifices. That sacrifice has been packaged in ‘pay cuts’
Honestly I don’t know how much money the country save if everyone gave away some percentage of their salary. It is still a good thing in some other respect, not necessarily in terms of saving some coins here and there. One such significance is that it is a most egregious way to tell the masses that there exists a crisis and they must exercise austerity in expending public resources. Perhaps even personal resources. It will create in our psyche more loathing for corruption, even though everyone of us secretly craves a chance to be corrupt. And many more.
The president and his deputy did well to take the lead in sacrifising portions of their salaries. These two folks have fantastic PR machines. The logic goes: If the president and his deputy have taken a pay cut, who are you to refuse?
However as soon as they broke loose from the PR script, the president and his deputy swung from one PR disaster to another.
We were told it was a national dialogue. I have no idea if and how it would be coordinated but a dialogue need not be coordinated anyway. Sometimes we see them shouting in the chambers and when they don’t agree, they proceed to shout ‘aye’ and ‘nay’ and the side with the tyranny of numbers takes it.
In this uncoordinated dialogue, some demagogue who cannot run a party decided to seize the moment before he could fly away to the USA and suggested that it was not prudent to take a pay cut when the cost of living is high.
Before he could swallow saliva to wet his dry throat, his excellency , the smaller excellency that is, was up chastising him that his advise was not needed because he had failed to run a party. I guess someone like me and many others who cannot run their households because they cannot put any food on the table owing to the high cost of living are ineligible to participate in the public discourse on the high wage bill either. That is going by the smaller excellency’s logic.
Not to be left behind, the real excellency sauntered majestically to the KICC. He looked squarely at the public servants in the face and told them they did not have any choice in the matter. You refuse to take the pay cut, we sack you, he roared! who read animal farm by George Orwell?
If you did, you understand how Napoleon did it in a similar situation. And if the hapless public servant thought he had any recourse anywhere, he quickly scuttled those hopes. He squarely looked at the CJ and reminded him that any awards his court may give the hapless public servant are welcome; it would be cheaper to pay for a breach of the Employment Act than to respect it. More simply, expensive justice can be breached in favour of cheap injustice. He was not done yet. How could he when his Deputy had scored big by taking on that irritant Raila head-on so valiantly? To beat his deputy’s scoreline, he reserved the sternest of faces for Wilson Sossion and told him to behave.
I am not sure how the public servant would take the blackmail because I don’t know what goes on in their hearts. But I can guess there will be sabotage. During the debate at KICC, Anne Waiguru, the Devolution Secretary said something about disproportionate productivity vis-a-viz the wage bill. Something else will compromise the productivity now: resentment, sabotage, apathy and the like.
Perhaps they will succeed to reduce the wage bill but productivity will fall proportionately or worse.
And that is not because their wages will be cut but because the PR machine went to sleep immediately after the Mt. Kenya luxury resort sojourn. If you want my wages, my income, my current asset, it helps if you can be humble, you plead with me, court and persuade me. When you come with a machete instead, I run to the bedroom and come back wielding a simi!
This post forst appeared as a Facebook update by K’Onyango Ochieng Dennis.Â