Kenyan Political Family Refuses Cash Shock
It was difficult to feel optimistic about Kenya’s post-crisis power-sharing deal. It seemed a classic case of jobs for the boys in a giant cabinet while the tribal and land tensions that exploded into violence had been left to fester. Although many Kenyans hailed the arrival of Raila Odinga as prime minister, many others thought he was yet another politician who had learned his trade in the dark, corrupt Moi years. (The best road in Kenya remains the one that leads to his lakeside house built, I believe, when he was roads minister).
But since then Raila has done his best to suggest he may be the mouldbreaking politician his supporters have always claimed.
He has been one of the most consistently outspoken African leaders on Mugabe.
And then today it emerges his wife Ida has refused a generous government salary offered to her for “projecting a positive image of our nation’s family values”.
“In addition, the Government recognises your wise counsel and guidance which contribute to the public good in the course of nation building activities, besides playing hostess during national and other official public engagements,” read the letter obtained by The Standard newspaper. “In view of the above, and in order to compensate for the above services,” the letter said, the State had approved a monthly payment for her of Sh400,000 and allowances when she travels “within and outside the country on official engagements”.
Of course, if I was to be cynical, the whole thing may well have been a stunt to give the Railas an opportunity to refuse the money. But accusing politicans of politicking seems to miss the point. Stunt or not, this lays down a challenge to the whole of the Kenyan public sector and suggests Raila may be trying to deliver on his promise of a new way of doing things.