Homecoming parties a mockery of poor taxpayers

Friday, February 3rd, 2023 05:10 | By
A homecoming fete. PHOTO/Courtesy

There is an argument that Kenyans never learn – even from tragedies. Despite people losing lives in fires while fetching fuel from tankers caught up in accident situations, people still seize similar opportunities to make a fortune out of a misfortune, often with disastrous consequences.

Former Cabinet Secretary Raphael Tuju has always described the January 24, 2003 Busia plane crash that killed a Cabinet Minister and two pilots as one of the most traumatising events in his life.(The man would in 2020 survive another accident while on his way to former President Daniel arap Moi’s funeral).

In 2003, Tuju, then Minister of Information and Communications, had accompanied Narc politicians Martha Karua, Jebii Kilimo, Robinson Githae, Wanjiru Kihoro and George Khaniri to celebrate their three-week-old victory at Moody Awori’s home in Funyula.

After the home coming party, they boarded a 24-seater Gulfstream at Busia airstrip for Kisumu. The plane hit a power line on take-off and crashed.

Newly appointed Labour Minister Mohammed Khalif together with two pilots died while others sustained injuries.

Kihoro stayed in a coma after the accident for four years before succumbing to the injuries in 2006.

Tuju says he cheated death after he found Khalif on the seat that had been designated for him at the front of the plane. He, therefore, took one at the back of the ill-fated plane which had delayed because Khalif had gone to a nearby mosque for evening prayers.

“When Khalif arrived, he went and sat on my seat at the front. I couldn’t tell him to leave my seat. Unfortunately, when the plane crashed he (Khalif) hit his head on the barrier and died,” Tuju told KTN in past interview.

One would think that such sobering memories would be a deterrence to what is shaping up to be another countrywide blitz of partying by privileged politicos. Of course it is their right to do so, only that they need to disclose who is picking up the tab.

Kenyans are witnessing situations in which tax-payer funded fuel guzzlers and choppers, hired by politicians returning home to indulge in lavish parties, are descending on sleepy and desolate enclaves, disturbing the peace of rural folk eking out living on their shambas.

Villagers who can barely afford food and school fees for their children are brought face to face with the opulence of big government, a display of power and treated to the rare generosity of the host before he vanishes only to return on the eve of the next election.

Folks are given the odd access to the leaders’ homes often heavily cordoned off – almost marooned – like that of the protagonist in Ramesh Ramdoyal’s epic short story Le Grand Solitaire (The great solitary one), to keep the eyesore that is his neighbours’ penury out of sight.

One is wont to celebrate an achievement. Indeed ascending to the high echelons of government with only primary school education is no modest feat—especially in a country with one of the most celebrated, talented and diverse human resource bases in Africa.

True, there is something to go home with when you are appointed a Cabinet Secretary when the only experience you bring to the table is management of a ward and being branch manager of an insurance company in a rural outpost.

But this obscene display of opulence amidst want is not only a commentary on misplaced priorities, hypocrisy and a mockery of the poor by officials entrusted with the power to alleviate their condition.

But the moral question is that these parties are fuelled by Wanjiku’s taxes. The State honchos troop to these parties with government vehicles, guarded by police officers. This is wastage of resources that can be used to provide services such as health care.

The irony of the parties is that they are graced by President William Ruto who has not only been pitching Kenyans to pay taxes but has also warned that Kenya Kwanza cannot implement its agenda because it inherited an empty granary. The more reason politicians should spare the country the spectacle of this home coming nonsense and settle down to work.

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