And these are the reformers!

Raila Odinga, Kenya’s PM, seized the moral high ground after losing Kenya’s fractious elections, possibly due to rigging.

Gregg Zachary, one of the best journalists reporting on African matters, points us to a sadly unsurprising story:

One of my favorite African newspapers, the feisty Nairobi Star, has a fair and balanced story today about the decision by reform prime minister Odinga to put his very own wife on a government salary of more than $6,000 U.S. dollars a month. That’s probably enough money for to run a school for a month.

I know democracy in Africa has its costs, and that even countries with lots of poor people still must have appropriately-compensated government officials, but Odinga is a self-professed reformer and the leader of a movement to widen democracy in Kenya, one of the region’s most important countries. Putting his wife on the government payroll sends a bad message. He should “fire” her immediately — for the sake of his reputation.

The BBC pointed out, wisely, that perhaps Odinga’s own salary as PM should cover his wife’s costs in addition to his own.

3 thoughts on “And these are the reformers!

  1. What a sad, sad story. I often wonder what the world would be like if politicians loved people more than money and power.

    Can you imagine?

    I see you’re reading The Happiness Hypothesis, great book! I think one of the great failures of our civilization is a collective unwillingness to heed advice from Haidt and other great thinkers who assure us that money does not equal happiness.

  2. I was living in Tanzania during the Kenya election scandal. I remember seeing photographs of ballot slips which were clearly tampered with, and I remember asking somebody who would know about this sort of thing what they thought.

    Paraphrasing: the opinion was that while Odinga had almost certainly won the polls, and while the situation calls into question (or rather, answers once again) Kibaki’s character, Kibaki would be a better president for the people of Kenya.

    I have no doubt the holder of this opinion was unsurprised by this most recent turn of events, and so neither am I.