Kenya may have never reached the World Cup finals or qualified for any other major international tournament since the 2004 Africa Cup of Nations, but that didn’t stop its members of parliament to go on a taxpayer-funded trip to watch the FIFA World Cup allegedly “to understand sports” and “how to host such international tournaments.”
At least 20 Kenyan MPs reportedly flew to Moscow, Russia, to watch the game, sparking backlash from the citizens, who called it a senseless waste of money considering the minimum wage in the African country is between $120 and $280 per month.
“Isn't that a big bad joke, that leaders can travel all the way to Russia to watch football when we have a lot of problems here?” asked Nairobi resident Sylvester Aseka, according to Channel News Asia.
The protests grew even fierce after some of the legislators began posting pictures on social media that clearly showed they were having the time of their lives at the tournament.
Now, according to the stats compiled by The Star Kenya, the government would have spent nearly $80,000 on the air tickets from Nairobi to Moscow alone – and that too if the parliamentarians flew in the economy class. In Kenya, that makes up to about 8 million Shillings.
As the publication noted, according to the Salaries and Remuneration Commission ceiling of December 2014, the lawmakers would also receive a subsistence allowance of over $850 per day, which makes the total cost of 12 day trip for 20 MPs approx $17,000 – nearly 2 million Kenyan Shillings.
Given the increased hotel prices in Moscow due to the World Cup, even if the lawmakers stayed at an average hotel instead of a five-star hotel, it is estimated to cost around $119,000, making up about 12 million Kenya Shillings.
“Are these the same people expected to raise a voice about corruption? Benchmarking in Russia? Do the math of how much they have spent. Kenyans, let's be woke!” commented a social media user.
Meanwhile, the government defended the trip, claiming it was “not a bad thing.”
“They must prepare a report when they come back and table it in parliament. That's the standard procedure,” said National Assembly Speaker Justin Muturi.
Senate Clerk Jeremiah Nyegenye also shared similar sentiments.
“It is their responsibility to understand sports, how to host such international tournaments,” he reportedly said. “This is not a holiday and it is too simplistic to look at it as a joy rider mission.”
It is also important to note that although nearly half of Kenya's population lives below the poverty line, its lawmakers are reportedly among the highest paid in the world.
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