Members of Parliament (MPs) in Kenya are amongst the highest paid in the world relative to the size of the economy. Parliamentary seats are among the most sought-after positions in society, bringing the holder wealth and social standing. In recent years, there has been an increasing trend whereby those in lucrative senior private sector positions leave, in pursuit of the perceived comfort and stature of public or political office.
In a situation where political office has become both lucrative and sought after, the stakes around political contests have also risen significantly. In some cases, they are so high that the contests have become a door-die affair. Violence around electoral contests is all too common and has been used as a tool to influence electoral outcomes, whether by way of displacement or intimidation of certain sections of the electorate.
In such an environment, where securing a parliamentary seat is the ultimate aspiration and privilege, and where, for that reason, there are individuals who are prepared to go to great lengths to secure the seat, the cost of politics is unsurprisingly significant.