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Tuesday, 20 November, 2001, 14:34 GMT
Do African MPs get too many special favours?
In Kenya last week there was a storm after MPs voted themselves better housing allowances.

Last month in Ghana, the president was furious when MPs decided they needed extra money to buy cars.

The MPs themselves argued that they needed decent transport in order to do their job properly.

So are Africa's MPs selfish and overpaid?

Or do they need special treatment to be able to serve their constituents better? Tell us what you think.

This debate is now closed. Read a selection of your comments below.

Your reaction

All over the world the wealth of the masses or taxpayers' money is abused by MPs or other people in power. Why label African MPs, while corruption occurs in many parts of the western world including the UK and the US?
Abba Massipie, Uganda

They are our worst enemies because they live within and amongst us

Koo, US
African politicians are like their farmers. Almost all of them practise subsistence politics. Once elected they think about themselves and their immediate family. That's all they do. Look at Ghana now. They are talking about giving new MPs $20,000.00. each to buy cars for themselves. It looks like these people are sure they will get those loans back. Well, I believe, lecturers and doctors have a more secure jobs than politicians. Who knows if these politicians will get their jobs after the next elections. It's been about 8 months since the new government came in yet they have not been able to convict any of the "corrupt" politicians who preceded them. My friends, politicians are like leopards. They can never change their spots. In the case of Ghana, we have been recycling the same names and people over and over again. So what do we expect? God save Africans from its politicians. They are our worst enemies because they live within and amongst us.
Koo, US

How are MPs going to do their jobs better in $100,000 Mercedes-Benz cars and $1,000 suits?

Nyakubia Mungurere, Tanzania
How are MPs going to do their job better in $100,000 Mercedes-Benz cars and $1,000 suits? If they're going to say they are "men of the people", let them show it by riding bicycles and by wearing kanga or kitenge cloth like the rest of us! That will be the day!
Nyakubia Mungurere, Tanzania

In Zimbabwe it is not the MPs who have too many privileges, it is the Ministers and the President. Among their perks is that they do not pay tax. How can they understand the needs of the people when imposing taxes, if they do not pay themselves? And why should anyone at all be exempt? It is a mockery that all are equal before the law in Zimbabwe.
Charles Frizell, Australia/Zimbabwe

African MPs and ministers behave as if they were colonial white district commissioners

Augustine Agbenaza, Ghana
In spite of the fact that we have been independent for over 30 years now, the African MPs and ministers behave as if they were colonial white district commissioners. They have to enjoy all the amenities free of charge that the white colonial district commissioners were "entitled" to. We have to do away with this mentality of entitlement and seek the welfare of the average citizen. Why should a minister be entitled to more than one official vehicle? And why should they think that they have to ride in a Mercedes or BMW or the Sport Utility Vehicles (SUV)? This is all a drain on the economy.
Augustine Agbenaza, Ghana

How is an MP supposed to fulfil their duties to their constituents if they are unable to transport themselves to their constituents?
Abby, USA/Ghana

Having spent a greater portion of my life in Zimbabwe and now in South Africa, it would appear that the MPs have no idea that ordinary people with hopes for a better life have elected them into power. In addition the word accountability is unknown to most of the MPs. They seem to treat state coffers as an unlimited private "piggy bank". It is extremely sad that there are thousands of people living well below the poverty line.
Angela, South African

None of the electorate would want to be represented by a poor MP

Jim Onyango, Kenya, East Africa
I'm a parliamentary news reporter in Nairobi Kenya. I support good pay for Members of Parliament that will enable them to perform their duties effectively. None of the electorate would want to be represented by a poor MP. Kenyan MPs recently voted themselves cheap house loans - this is good for them. I've seen most MPs wake up from dingy hotel rooms in crime prone areas of Nairobi like River Road where they stay to enable them attend Parliament on Wednesday mornings. The high cost of housing in Nairobi has pushed most rural constituency MPs to commute to and from their rural homes and this is not fair given the numerous accidents on Kenyan roads. They should have their own houses in the city. Let's just make sure they don't abuse the system by selling the cheaply acquired houses when their term ends.
Jim Onyango, Kenya, East Africa

Kenyan MPs are greedy and selfish. How do they find it easy to ask for better housing allowances at a time when the country is too broke? Most of them still have the colonial mentality that they are masters of the people who voted them in!
Eric, Kenya/USA

For MPs to truly be able to deliver the goods, they need to completely understand the needs of people and not live in 'fantasy worlds' of expensive houses and cars - Africa cannot afford such luxuries.
Tapfuma, Zimbabwe

Africa needs a new breed of MP

Julius M. Jere, Zambia
Africa needs a new breed of MP to usher the continent to a new era of social development. The current crop can deliver neither development nor democracy. They are far too selfish. They still believe they are masters over the people they are supposed to represent. It's so disgusting!
Julius M. Jere, Zambia

There is no difference between MPs all over the world. They are all just as greedy as the next!
Roger, UK

To do one's job better etc, one needs commitment, the ability to learn and deliver, and some experience. All these are lacking in most of our African MPs, most of whom are "selected" based on how many insults they hailed at the opposition or how much they boot-licked. Isn't the job of your leaders to leave you better off than you were at the time you elected them into office? For the jobs they are doing now and the quality of laws they have enacted so far they are overpaid already.
CM, Zambia

How about starting by freezing their special accounts?

Eddie, Kenya
The plunder of public resources to sustain the luxurious tastes and lifestyles of some irresponsible MPs and other state officials is by all means criminal. Indeed, they do need "special" treatment. How about starting by freezing their special accounts and cracking down on their especially corrupt patronage networks and institutions.
Eddie, Kenya

Most African MPs are nothing more than pleasure and wealth seekers. Two years ago in Nigeria, senators were demanding some $15,000 allowances for furniture while the government was still contemplating on 3000 Naira as minimum wage for civil servants. Does this show dedication, vision or love to the people they were voted to protect their interests? The answer is absolutely no.
Ezeilo Chinenye, Nigeria/ The Netherlands

Perks are benefits that encourage workers to give one hundred and ten percent to their work thus bringing better returns to their employers. If the salary is for work performed as prescribed by the employer then the question should not be whether African MPs have been overpaid. It should be whether they deserve any payment at all for the lousy job they do.
Cillaty Daboh, USA/Sierra Leone

Most MPs are too selfish and spendthrift

Comsoo, Botswana
Most MPs are too selfish and spendthrift; they join politics to become rich, not to represent people. It's all about survival of the fittest in our continent
Comsoo, Botswana

Members of Parliament are elected for the purpose of representing and serving their constituents. In their capacity as MPs, they deserve respect from citizens across the country in any given continent. But their positions don't mandate them the lion's share of scare national resources, such as in the case of countries like Kenya, where thousands, perhaps millions live in extreme poverty.
Deng Mador Dengdit, Sudanese/Australia

Having lived in Africa for 30 years I have seen how MPs lavish themselves while their people go hungry, cold, and poorer by the day. Are they overpaid? That is just the start!
MB, Australia

These MPs need good wages first to fulfil their basic needs

Namara, Canada
These MPs need good wages first to fulfil their basic needs and families and secondly to perform the job they were elected to do. Most countries south of the Sahara have been hit by inflation and the low price of primary products. Hence, the standard of living is low. For them to actively participate in nation building they need reliable transportation and some fringe benefits to prevent them pilfering or embezzling government funds. Yes they need the perks to perform their duties.
Namara, Canada

African MPs' selfishness is shown by their irresistible urge to continuously vote themselves higher salaries, allowances and loans for the latest and usually most expensive flashy cars, kitchen units, furniture and other luxurious fittings for their homes that go well beyond the general performance of the economy and at the expense of the very suffering masses they claim to represent.
Anthony Musonda, Zambian student in Germany

Kenyan MPs are nothing but stomach-hungry, policy-challenged fellows who should not seat in the privileged House of Representatives. What kind of 'leaders' would unite when deliberating personal gains, yet rumble and fistfight when discussing their country's policies?
Njuguna P.M., Kenyan in USA

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