Reports that 20 Kenyan MPs traveled to Russia to watch live World Cup matches at the expense of taxpayers’ money has sparked heated conversations on social media.
The MPs, who caught the attention of Kenyans when they posted selfies in a stadium, travelled to russia to watch four games, including the final, in a two-week trip estimated to be costing hundreds of thousands of dollars.
Only six MPs were authorized to travel to Russia for the World Cup
Sports Minister Rashid Echesa told BBC his office only authorized the travel of six MPs from sports committees to go learn how such big events are conducted.
He also said that officials from his ministry rejected an invitation to travel to Russia.
‘We were invited but opted out. It is too expensive and a waste of money,’ he said.
MPs on the trip include Victor Munyaka (from Machakos Town), Wafula Wamunyinyi (Kanduyi), Sylvanus Maritim (Ainamoi), and Peter Kaluma (Homa Bay Town).
Senators Cleopha Malala, Aaron Cheruyiot, Millicent Omanga and Judy Pareno are also in Russia.
Senate Clerk Jeremiah Nyegenye, head of the Parliamentary Service Commission, in charge of determining the responsibilities and remuneration of legislators, defended the trip.
‘It is their responsibility to understand sports, how to host such international tournaments,’ Kenyan newspaper the Star quotes him as saying. ‘This is not a holiday and it is too simplistic to look at it as a joyrider mission.’
The Star estimates the total cost of the trip is around $450,000 (385,000 euros). By comparison, the minimum wage in Kenya is between $120 and $280, depending on the skill.
Kenyan lawmakers are among the highest paid in the world. Last August, before they had even taken up their seats after the election, the MPs demanded higher wages.
Kenya’s Harambee Stars have never reached a World Cup. They haven’t qualified for any major international tournament since the 2004 Africa Cup of Nations.
Social media uproar
Following the reports, many Kenyans are up in arms over the tremendous spend of taxpayers’ money.
...even France who are playing a final is not sponsoring its MPs to go to Russia but Kenya who were hit by famine, lately they even didnt have water to drink and they have a huge debt to pay are sending MPs to watch #FIFAWC2018 as if they have anything to do with football— Andrew Katsigaire (@AndrewKatsigair) 12 July 2018
Congratulations to you tax paying Kenyans for funding so many of your MPs to go to Russia on a 2 week World Cup holiday.— Japhetha Waitina (@Currie_Powder) 12 July 2018