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MPs demand salary hike ASAP

Publishing Date : 19 November, 2018

Author : KETUMILE RAMATITI

Members of Parliament across the political divide have implored the commission appointed and mandated by President Dr Mokgweetsi Masisi to review salaries of senior government officials and politicians, to be cognisant of the challenges faced by legislators in execution of their duties.


The legislators are said to have made their case clear at a general assembly meeting held last week Thursday. The agenda of the meeting was to give MPs an update on the review process. At the same assembly the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) was invited to update members on the low turnout of voters at election registration points.However, top of the agenda was the salary review with the voter registration issue given peripheral status.


Masisi appointed a commission to review salaries of senior government officials and politicians recently. The commission is led by Justice Monametsi Gaongalelwe. Other members include Thebe Mogami, Ntshabele Manamela, Oduetse Motshidisi, Motlhagodi Molomo, Tsetsele Fantan and Alpheus Matlhaku.Last year the MPs were given a 4 percent salary increase which brought an MP’s monthly salary to P23, 786 per month which is P285, 432. 20 per annum. In addition constituency allowances were also hiked for the members to serve voters diligently. Before then in 2015 they were also given a 6 percent increase.


But the legislators’ demand for a hefty salary adjustment face backlash following their rejection of a motion by Jwaneng-Mabutsane representative Shaun Ntlhaile calling on Government to introduce a living wage.  “I cannot say a definite figure because as MPs we have never reached a consensus on the matter but we want something meaningful. If we can have a 20 percent increment and hopefully 30 percent constituency allowance depending on the vastness of the area,” said one MP who attended the meeting.


The legislators are further arguing that they should be entitled to a driver and a vehicle just like ministers so their job could be easier. “We have travelled around the world and mingled with some peers just across the border from SADC parliamentary forum and we are getting peanuts as pay. So apart from the salary, there are other factors that the commission should bear in mind. We should have a driver and a car which takes an MP to his constituency as and when one needs to,” added another MP.


As it is currently, backbenchers use their personal vehicles when they visit their constituencies, while ministers while on official duty are entitled to ministerial vehicles.No one is bold to come out about the matter as it is said to be “sensitive and could cause ruckus.” This they say, it is because there is a structure created to look at the matter and it would seem they are too forward.


Botswana MPs reports have always maintained that they are one of the lowest paid in the continent and the world. Former MP David Magang indicated in one of his books that legislators’ salaries are just peanuts and that “peanuts attract monkeys.” Nigerian MPs are among the highest paid in the continent and the world.


In addition to basic salary, they get a string of allowances in the form of hardship allowance, constituency, furniture, newspaper, wardrobe, recess allowance, accommodation, utilities, domestic staff and entertainment allowances. Kenyan MPs, are the second highest paid in the world. Ghana is also cited as paying politicians well. South African MPs now earn R 1, 1 million a year excluding other benefits.

LEGISLATORS BLAME IEC OVER REGISTRATION

Meanwhile the legislators at the meeting are said to have told IEC representatives that they have a hand in the low numbers that registered to vote in next year’s elections. They argue that IEC failed to mobilise the public to vote by raising awareness in various platforms available. “We have had songs, billboards and posters everywhere in the past but this time around it was just quite, so somehow they had a hand on this.  But we asked them if funds are not enough or what,” Gaborone North legislator Haskins Nkaigwa said.


It is further said that the decision by IEC, without consulting the MPs, to reduce registration stations also had effect. A number of constituencies according to legislators have registration centres cut forcing prospective voters to travel as long as 30km to register. The MPs have nonetheless requested the IEC to do a supplementary registration. IEC PRO Osupile Maropa has stated that approximately 750 000 have registered to vote.

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