PARLIAMENT passed a very interesting motion last week.
ABC MP Motumi Ralejoe thinks the government should start paying the bills of all former politicians who are failing to look after themselves.
Ralejoe is suggesting that parliament should enact a law whose sole function is to restore the “status, recognition and respect” of all former MPs.
“When we were sworn in as MPs, automatically we ceased to be ordinary and there was honour attached to our new status,” Ralejoe reasoned.
“However, it is disheartening when you bump into someone who used to be an MP in tatters and with their shoes staring them in the face.
“Some even die paupers while families of the lucky few receive compensation from those who still remember them.”
The man from Lithabaneng makes an obvious point that there is honour attached to the office of a Member of Parliament.
Indeed that is why their titles are preceded by the prefix “Honourable”.
But Ralejoe‘s argument that it is disheartening to see former MPs living like destitutes is not morally persuasive.
Of course the fact that some former MPs have died paupers is heartbreaking.
But the question that the ABC lawmaker should answer is whether it should the responsibility of this country’s taxpayers to look after old politicians who fail to make hay while the sun shines.
As MPs our politicians rank among the most highly paid people in the country.
They earn more than any other civil servant that we know.
They even earn more than our highly educated doctors and engineers.
Yet theirs is not a full-time occupation.
Because of the nature of their duties MPs are supposed to be employed elsewhere because parliament is not an eight-to-five job.
That is why cabinet ministers get paid for doing their day-to-day jobs of running ministries while they can still satisfactorily perform their functions as parliamentarians.
What our MPs draw from the state coffers are supposed to be allowances not a salary because being an MP is not a form of employment.
It is supposed to be a voluntary and selfless service to the country without the expectation of remuneration.
But it is clear from Honourable Ralejoe’s motion that our MPs think that by electing them to represent us in parliament we are offering them generous employment contracts.
This is why the current parliament has pre-occupied itself with making self-serving laws whose singular objective is to enrich our politicians and ensure that taxpayers foot their bills even when they have fallen out of favour with the people.
Already the taxpayer is paying for the outrageous loans parliament offered all MPs not so long ago.
Very soon the taxpayer will be paying the bills for all former prime ministers, deputy prime ministers and their spouses.
And now the same parliament wants us to look after destitute former MPs.
Somebody should tell these politicians that we don’t owe them a living.
They should hustle like all of us.