Editorial CommentOpinion & Analysis

CSOs action smacks of empty empathy



It is interesting and confusing in the same breath that civil society organisations (CSOs) and human rights defenders Thursday presented a petition to Parliament, demanding the reversal of a decision to hike daily sitting and upkeep allowances for each legislator from K60,000 to K80,000.

The CSOs have raised interesting arguments that it is immoral for the 193 Members of Parliament (MPs) to be pocketing millions of the taxpayers’ hard-earned money when the people they represent are wallowing in poverty.


Furthermore, the CSOs want the MPs to be paid per hour and not per day, as is the case, so as to avoid rewarding absenteeism.

The human rights defenders have said all the right things but we are afraid that the train has already left as the MPs already nodded to the hiking of their take-home pay.

What the CSOs are advancing is a right cause for the poor person on the street but we are sorry to say that the human rights defenders are spending negative energy on something whose outcome will be noise and more noise.


We would like to believe that the CSO speak on behalf of the people, as they make us believe, but the lack of urgency when it was clear that the MPs would have their way at all cost leaves us with many questions than answers.

Do the CSOs really expect Parliament to change anything on the pay rise? Who will push this motion in the House when all the MPs overwhelmingly nodded to this?

Did the human rights activists present their petition to Parliament so as to be seen caring? Or is it about attracting the attention of the poor people and indeed donor partners?

Would it not have made sense for the CSOs to mobilise themselves and present the petition to Parliament when the matter was being tabled in Parliament?

In any case, when was the last time the CSOs successfully forced a reversal of an unpopular issue such as the one of the MPs pay? The CSOs are supposed to influence change by being proactive and not only reactive as it appears.

Time has come for the CSOs to do some soul-searching and change their approach in the way they go about their business; otherwise, they risk losing—if they have not lost already—the trust which the public is supposed to have in them.

What the CSOs have done by presenting the petition to Parliament over a matter that will, at all cost, not change smacks of empty empathy.

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