Kenyans Stopping Ruto’s Massive Taxes in Finance Bill 2024 is a Start for the Next Generation

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Kenya scraps bread tax as protesters tear-gassed
Protesters participate in a demonstration against Kenya's proposed finance bill Nairobi, Kenya - 18 June 2024

Protesters angered by the new finance bill have been trying to make their way to parliament.

As they promised, ordinary Kenyans took to the streets of Nairobi to stop President William Ruto’s excessive taxes a lot of which are on basic needs for Kenyans like bread, cooking oil, MPESA, and digital money transfers as well as taxes on cars which ends up being passed on to consumers who buy goods transported to the groceries and also when they use public transportation.

One of the most prominent aspects of the “Occupy Parliament” demonstrations protesting tax increases on almost everything Kenyans use in the country is that it was a grassroots movement of Kenyans fighting for their rights.

As Boniface Mwangi one of the key activists involved said days ago, “sovereignty of the nation belongs to the Kenyan people and not the politicians”.

Kenyan workers, many Kenyan women and a lot of young Kenyans just told Ruto and his choir of politicians that they have had enough of the butchery President Ruto is committing against the economy of the country and the citizens whom he pretends to represent while he acts with contempt and virtual hatred towards the needs of ordinary poor Kenyans and workers.

The Ruto mob are now pretending that the minimal changes they are making is because they have listened to Kenyans during public consultations. That is total rubbish. There has been no public consultations in the country and in fact the same noisy politicians have not even read the Finance Bill 2024. The only public consultation which has been going on is Ruto bullies like Oscar Sudi screaming at Kenyans and telling them the Finance Bill will be passed as is whether Kenyans like it or not.

The reason William Ruto is pulling back which is still very little on the problems in Finance Bill 2024 is because he got scared when the saw the level of resistance Kenyans have for his attempt to rip them off with insane taxes. Ruto knows that this resistance could grow into a full scale national revolt against his regime of endless taxes and nothing else for Kenyans.

Kenyans Mass Protest Against Proposed Finance Bill 2024.

Ruto Knows that these mass protests against his failing economic plans and imposed huge taxes on Finance Bill 2024 will spread from Nairobi to all parts of the country starting with other big urban centres like Mombasa, Kisumu, Kakamega and all over the country. Those Ruto MPs yelling at Kenyans would be chased out of town everywhere they are and they will run and hide at State House.

Organic protests like this are very difficult to handle because now Ruto has no opposition leader to cry about and raise tribal innuendos against the protestors. This is not Raila Odinga organizing rallies to protest bad governance from William Ruto. These are the Kenyan people simply fed up and saying they have no more time for the nonsense from the regime in power which treats them like dirt.

Now Ruto is scrapping some minor aspects to confuse Kenyans but the core of the Finance Bill 2024 remains intact.

The very idea that Ruto and his so called advisors and friends came up with such an oppressive budget in the first place tells Kenyans that they have a regime in power which does not care one bit about what is good for Kenyans.

Now Kenyans should ask for real public participation where the MPs and politicians to call public rallies and go over the key pieces of financial changes in the budget with the citizens and in some cases there is going to be need for committees at county levels to go over the budget with Kenyans. That is what public consultation is supposed to be.

Politicians think that public participation means they go to various media houses and tell Kenyans how much they love the budget and also love William Ruto.

Let the politicians take this Finance Bill to Kenyans and not confine it to parliament. Let them talk to Kenyans directly about what is in the budget. What are they afraid of?

So far Kenyans have been told that the parliamentary finance committee has axed what would have been a 16% levy on bread as well as higher taxes on cooking oil and mobile money services.

The other disturbing aspect of the rallies is that the country once again saw the Kenya government treat Kenyans like it is a crime for them to exercise their right to protest for what they want for their country.

Police clash with protesters, dozens arrested in Nairobi Finance Bill demos

Police on Tuesday arrested dozens of protesters within Nairobi streets for taking part in the Finance Bill, 2024 which police have since declared illegal.

LSK threatens legal action against police commander for arresting Kenyans protesting against Finance Bill

LSK threatens legal action against police commander for arresting Kenyans protesting against Finance Bill

The Law Society of Kenya (LSK) has issued a stern warning to Nairobi Region Police Commander Adamson Bungei, accusing him of interfering with protests against the Finance Bill 2024 within the Nairobi’s Central Business District.

Not Enough! Kenyans Dissatisfied As Gov’t Drops Select Tax Proposals In Finance Bill
Not enough! Kenyans dissatisfied as gov’t drops select tax proposals in Finance Bill

Protesters at the Nairobi city centre on June 18, 2024 during a march to oppose the 2024 Finance Bill.

Now I can see why Ruto wants to tax the data industry and the internet to control social media because it looks like that population of young Kenyans are taking their fight against repression in their country to the next level and talking to each other in their own way using techniques available to them.

It looks scary that the net and social media is becoming a weapon for struggle and battle against a regime that doesn’t take that generation seriously.

Raila Odinga Celebrates Young Gen Z Girl Who Asked Him to Keep Off Protests:  "I'm a Proud Father" - Tuko.co.ke
Raila Odinga Celebrates Young Gen Z Girl Who Asked Him to Keep Off Protests: “I’m a Proud Father”

A young Kenyan protestor took to social media to send a message to Raila Odinga and told him to just relax because the younger generation were taking the battles for a free Kenya with a good economy for the deprived to another level.

“We saw everything you did for Kenya; now let us. We miss you, but Agwambo, please don’t even come outside” That was a Tik Tok message to Raila from the new generation fighting for their country.

Agwambo responded in a public statement that he was very impressed by the courage and effort of the young people for their country.

“I am a proud father today. Hongera sana to take the young lady and all those who bravely stoop up for their rights”

The real deal here is that the GEN Z that politicians ignore and President Ruto has no time for and never tries to give any hope for are letting Kenyans know that they are a big part of our country and indeed the future of the nation and they will not accept to be ignored by political leaders whose actions in government affect their lives now and will determine their future.

Kenyans online on Tuesday expressed their dissatisfaction with the government online following the scrapping of several levies proposed under the unpopular 2024 Finance Bill.

Kenyans have maintained that controversial proposals remained in the bill, such as amending the Data Protection Act to give Kenya Revenue Authority (KRA) unrestrained access to taxpayers’ personal data.

 They called for the whole bill to be discarded.

“VAT on cancer treatment still remains, Land rates taxes still remain. Data Privacy is still a big question. The Bill should be rejected in its entirety,” X user @Godwin_Murithi said.

Others termed the changes as just the government’s window-dressing efforts at the bill.

“Let’s not be hoodwinked. It’s not over till it’s over,” said @Douglasorangi.

Media Council Condemns Assault, Arrest Of Journalists During Anti-Finance Bill Demos
Media Council condemns assault, arrest of journalists during anti-Finance Bill demos

Standard Group journalist Justice Mwangi Macharia being arrested and then violently hauled out of a moving police vehicle while covering protests in Nairobi CBD on June 18, 2024.

The Media Council of Kenya (MCK) has lashed out at the police following incidents of harassment and arrest of journalists who were covering protests against the contentious Finance Bill, 2024 in the Nairobi Central Business District (CBD) on Tuesday.

MCK CEO David Omwoyo termed the attacks by armed police officers, who were supposed to protect the journalists, as unwarranted since the press men and women sufficiently identified themselves  using their accredited media badges and jackets.

He went on to identify at least five journalists who were unjustifiably attacked and arrested while in the line of duty at the ‘Occupy Parliament’ protests, among them two from international media houses and three attached to local outlets.

And the battle was taken to the police stations where protestors were being locked up.

The other dangerous element the June 18, political protests against Ruto’s Finance Bill 2024 was that this time President Ruto and his Chief of Police IG Koome tried to bring in a lot of plain clothes armed cops to beat up protestors and media people, brutalize them and arrest them.

Obviously the old Moi dictatorship Special Branch police system has now been fully re-introduced and operationalized in the Ruto police system so they can terrorize Kenyans without being seen in police uniform.

The last real loser on what is going on today in Kenya is the US Ambassador to Kenya Meg Whitman.

Just a few days ago as Kenyans were expressing their complete disappointment with the Ruto Finance Bill 2024, United States of America Ambassador to Kenya Meg Whitman had the audacity to tell Kenyans that William Ruto was the best president Kenya has ever had. How wonderful for the citizens of Kenya.

The US ambassador has always been very clear that they want a president in Kenya who can swallow all and everything the IMF offers to them in loans to be repaid forever.

Ruto was that kind of president they wanted and he fitted perfectly in the US plan for Africa. Even better, President William Ruto has accepted the dirty blood job to lead a police mission in Haiti after getting paid huge money by President Joe Biden. So Ruto is their man, we get it.

Well Meg Whitman now needs plan B. I have always told the US Ambassador Meg Whitman to worry more about politics in the USA and forget about Kenya politics. Right now Meg Whitman can offer advice to aspiring USA president Donald Trump who is now a convicted felon including the case of sexual assault where the victim won compensation money which is still to be paid.

Can Whitman tell us who the best president of the USA is going to be later this year when they hold elections in November. The US is about to have a convicted felon as their next president. Can Meg Whitman address that and let Kenyans deal with their own issues.

Adongo Ogony is a Human Rights Activist and a Writer who lives in Toronto, Canada

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