Martha Karua warns of renewed protests over cost of living, national talks

Narc-Kenya Party leader Martha Karua addresses a press conference alongside party delegates in Nairobi on Thursday, November 16, 2023. [Jonah Onyango,Standard]

Narc-Kenya Party leader Martha Karua has hinted at the return of protests should the National Dialogue talks fail and the cost of living is not addressed.

Karua was speaking on Thursday, November 16, during a press conference at the party headquarters in Nairobi.

The Azimio co-principal said that Kenyans are suffering from high taxes, poor services, and rampant corruption in the government, whilst calling for the removal of the additional 8 per cent tax on fuel, which she said was pushing the cost of living upwards.

The Narc-Kenya Party leader also demanded that the government account for the loans it has taken, which she claimed were feeding corruption and not service delivery. 

“We want to find services when we go to the hospitals. We are also saying the high fuel prices, which is pushing the cost of living upwards, we want the additional tax of 8 per cent removed with immediate effect as that will help the cost of fuel stabilise,” she said.

“Corruption has gone to new levels and that is why we are saying we should adhere to the rule of law. You heard the Controller of Budget recanting that we are paying for loans which we cannot ascertain which service they gave,” she said. 

Karua also criticised the leadership of the country, alleging that they have a track record of corruption and land grabbing. She said that Kenyans need to renew their leadership and go back to value-driven leadership.

“I just want to remind us even when you are employing a milkman, you would not dare employ somebody who stole just a bottle of milk from your neighbour. In the management of public affairs, we are employing people whose track record is well known...we are giving a blank cheque,” said Karua. 

She urged Kenyans to join hands and hold the government accountable, saying that sovereignty belongs to the people.

Karua warned that if the dialogue talks fail, she and her supporters will go back to the streets if necessary.

“Sovereignty belongs to the people of Kenya. We are saying that should the talks fail as they look like they are failing, we shall not forego our rights. We shall go back to the streets if necessary and we shall exercise our civil, political, and human rights to the fullest. We are saying no to intimidation and we are calling upon Kenyans to join and hold hands so that we restore sanity in our nation,” she said.

Her remarks come even as the National Dialogue Committee meeting has ended in disarray after Kenya Kwanza and Azimio la Umoja members disagreed on critical proposals touching on reducing the cost of living.

A report-writing retreat in Machakos on Wednesday, November 15, ended prematurely after the opposition members introduced new demands to scrap the housing levy and reduce the value-added tax on petroleum products from 16 per cent to 8 per cent.

The bipartisan team co-chairs, Kalonzo Musyoka and Kimani Ichung’wah, agreed to call off the retreat and allow for more consultations.

The committee will reconvene on Wednesday, November 22, where Treasury Cabinet Secretary Njuguna Ndung’u is expected to appear before it.