The opposition leader Raila Odinga has asked Kenyans to come out and forcefully oppose the Finance Act 2023 which was passed by Members of Parliament as a Bill and consequently assented to by president William Ruto effectively making it a law.
Yesterday, while addressing a mammoth crowd at the Nairobi’s Kamukunji Grounds in Shauri Moyo, the Azimio One Kenya Coalition leader rallied Kenyans to engaged in civil disobedience, tax boycott and called upon the law enforcement agencies to support the seemingly disruptive cause.
He said elected leaders, the legislators have conspired Executive and abandoned their people at their hour of need by voting for the punitive tax regime.
“Woe to those who make unjust laws, to those who issue oppressive decrees, to deprive the poor of their rights and withhold justice from the oppressed of my people, making widows their prey and robbing the fatherless. What will you do on the day of reckoning, when disaster comes from afar? To whom will you run for help? Where will you leave your riches?” Raila posed using an analogy from the Holy Bible.
Terming the passing and assenting to the new law a betrayal, Raila said Ruto and his henchmen threw the people’s petitions and prayers to the dustbin by passing the punitive bill without considering that majority of the people didn’t like it.
“We did everything that could be done to have Ruto listen to us and avert confrontation over taxes. We petitioned the authorities and institutions; we demonstrated; we prayed in houses of worship; we begged to be heard; we sought amendments and we pleaded with our MPs to stand up for us. Our petitions were thrown to the dustbin by Ruto’s tyrannical hands. He slighted our pleas and violently dispersed our petitioners.” Raila said while flanked by other Azimio leaders.
Raila told an ecstatic crowd that silence at this time was tantamount to a betrayal and treason to the country, adding that Kenyans have suffered a cruel betrayal of their trust and confidence in the ability of their Members of Parliament to protect their interests.
“We must punish the traitors. And we must force a repeal of the Finance Act. But what happened this past week and yesterday is not just about the Finance Act. This is about the re-emergence of a dictatorship under leaders who cut their teeth and honed their political skills in an infamous school of dictatorship.” Raila said. The Azimio leader urged Kenyans to reject the new taxes adding Ruto and his ilk are going to learn the hard way that Kenyans are fed up but not helpless.” Raila said.
“We have been abandoned by our leaders. We must now look out for each other and be our brothers and sisters’ keepers. Here, therefore, are my requests to you, my people of Kenya. Let us embrace Tax Boycotts. Let us deny Ruto the fuel tax by limiting consumption of petrol and diesel. One way to do this is to carpool. Let us arrange to make regular journeys in a single vehicle whenever possible. Give each other a ride. Cut down on non-essential travel. Walk instead of driving whenever possible.”
Terming it a time of desperation in the country Raila appealed to all employers to allow their workers time to walk to and from work and matatu owners to support tax boycotts by maintaining the current fare but doubling carrying capacity as part of the civil disobedience, while observing road safety measures.
“This regime does not deserve our obedience. We have no obligation to work for the success of a regime that has no interest in our success. There is no other option left. We must fight! We are going to fight; everywhere and anywhere; until the Finance Act is repealed. We will adopt a series of acts of civil disobedience to force this regime to recognize that we, the people, are supreme. Through civil disobedience, we will deny Ruto the taxes he thinks he can extort from us by force.”
He urged police officers to support call by allowing matatus to carry above capacity at current cost so that Kenyans can commute, while also appealing to businesses to disable or avoid Electronic Tax Registers, make nil returns on VAT and instead give discounts to customers saying in this way, we shall recover the VAT Ruto is taking illegally through fuel.
He also appealed to employers to ignore the punitive deductions of employees’ salaries that that he said will go towards lining the pockets of Ruto’s strategically placed cronies.
“Let us picket their public and private offices and their homes, until they join the call to have the Finance Act repealed.” He said.
Raila also used the time to reach out to the online community in the country and the diaspora together with content creators requesting them to gather and share information about the ‘traitors’ in government.
“In a democratic country that is founded upon the sovereignty of the people, whenever the arms of government, whether the Executive, the Legislature or the Judiciary, fall into the hands of men and women who use their delegated sovereign power to oppress the people and benefit themselves, then it becomes a right and a duty of the people, in pursuit of the common good and to assert their Sovereignty, to disobey those men and women, and their laws. We are asserting our sovereignty. Civil disobedience begins with personal actions. We begin today, and we will continue progressively, discreetly and publicly, culminating in the official start of massive countrywide rallies.” He added.
The Azimio brigade sent a strong message that they will embark on the first major procession on July 7, popularly known as Saba Saba, to mark the start of anti-government rallies.
Meanwhile, the team announced an end to bipartisan talks with the Kenya Kwanza administration, saying they did not factor in their views despite calls by the George Murugara team to have the talks resume on July 4, 2023.