Details have emerged of the lucrative salary that former First Lady Mama Ngina Kenyatta has been earning from the Presidency – prompting debate on whether the payments have been legal.
The Business Daily reported it had obtained documents from the Presidency which revealed Mama Ngina has been getting a Sh568,218 tax-free monthly salary – courtesy of the taxpayer.
The National Treasury explained that the monthly payment was made to Mama Ngina in her capacity as a surviving spouse to founding President Mzee Jomo Kenyatta who passed on in 1978.
When Mzee Kenyatta died in 1978, there was no existing law on the pension and benefits that his spouse would be entitled to.
However, in 2003, Parliament enacted the Presidential Retirement Benefits Act which established a legal framework for payment of pensions to former Presidents and their surviving spouses.
Lawyers are divided on whether the 2003 law can be backdated to apply to Mama Ngina whose husband had died in office twenty-five years before.
“Upon the death of a serving President or of a retired President who is in receipt of or who is entitled to a pension under this Act, his surviving spouse shall be entitled to benefits amounting to fifty per cent of such pension,” the Act reads in part.
Former Presidents are entitled to a monthly pension that is equal to 80 percent of the current President’s salary.
President Uhuru Kenyatta, who also happens to be Mama Ngina’s son, has a Sh1.44 million monthly salary which translates to Sh1.15 million pension entitlement for former Presidents.
Mama Ngina earns fifty percent of the pension that Mzee Kenyatta would earn if he were alive. The salary is also exempted from tax in line with the Presidential Retirement Benefits Acts of 2003.
The monthly payment is reported is said to have started before her son Uhuru assumed the Presidency.
It is not clear if the same salary was extended to Mzee Kenyatta’s first wife,Grace Wahu, who survived the former President before her death in 2007.
In 2018, President Kenyatta revealed that his mother was still looking to get a pension from the Nairobi County Government for her husband's work for the Nairobi Municipal Council in the 1920s.
“Na wewe Sonko, mama anauliza wapi pension kwa sababu mzee aliwafanyia kazi (And you Sonko, my mother has been asking where is the pension since her husband worked for you),” Uhuru stated during his father's 40th memorial.
It is not clear if Nairobi Governor Mike Sonko followed up on the matter.