ODM leader Raila Odinga on Saturday called for a national conversation on affordable housing plan and criticised President William Ruto for vowing to defy the courts on Housing Levy.

The opposition leader said that Azimio la Umoja was not opposed to the affordable housing policy but disagreed with how the government was executing it without consultation.

“We do not oppose the affordable housing policy because we also had it in our manifesto. The problem with Ruto’s plan is the execution. The plan must be done properly,” said Raila.

Raila said there was need for a national conversation on how the affordable housing plan will be financed, how and where the houses will be built and who will benefit.

Responding to the president’s assertion that he will continue with the affordable housing plan despite a court order, Raila said the era when presidential decrees were final was long gone.

“The era of chest thumping and presidential decree is long gone. We are past the days when we would be told it would happen whether you like it or not,” he said.

Ruto suffered a major blow after the Court of Appeal declined to extend an order to allow the government to continue collecting the housing levy.

Hours after the order was issued by Justice Lydia Achode, John Mativo and Mwaniki Gachoka, President Ruto and other UDA leaders vowed to continue with the project. 

Yesterday, the opposition chief said the constitution makes public participation mandatory and government officials should stop deluding themselves that they can impose policies on Kenyans.

“It is clear that Ruto did not have a plan on how to execute and fulfil some of the grand promises he made during the campaigns. We are ready as Azimio to lend him our plans,” he said.

The former Prime Minister also criticised the government over demolitions currently going on across the country to create space for the building of new affordable houses.

He described the demolitions and evictions as inhuman, accusing the Kenya Kwanza administration of settling on forceful evictions as its preferred way of acquiring or settling land disputes.

He said the government seems to be pursuing a policy of evicting people from their settlements using utmost pain inflicted at the most desperate moments.

“Kenyans have so many burdens to carry this year, and losing a home should not be added to their burdens. People are not animals you just chase away from a place; you should relocate them in a humane manner before you demolish their houses,” he said.

On Thursday, the government evicted hundreds of tenants in the National Housing Corporations NHC houses in Changamwe. NHC said it plans to construct 9,000 units of affordable houses.

Some 790 units in the estate, including detached houses, bungalows and maisonettes were also demolished. In January 2018, NHC obtained an eviction order.

Meanwhile, Raila also revisited the government-to-government oil deal between Kenya and firms in the Middle East, saying it was responsible for the shilling’s free fall against the dollar.

He criticised the government, saying its policies like the oil deal and taxing were threatening to bring the country’s economy to its knees.

The ODM leader who was speaking in Mombasa said Ruto was running the government through trial and error, claiming that UDA had no plans on how to fulfil its promises to Kenyans.

“When UDA came to power, the shilling was strong. It was exchanging at Sh120 for a dollar. It is now at Sh170 and the prediction is that its value will drop to Sh200 by May,” he said.

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