Maandamano: Business persons, Maendeleo ya wanawake call for protests stop

Protestors barricade a section of the road during Anti-Government protests in Nakuru city on July 12, 2023. [Kipsang Joseph, Standard]

A section of Kenyans have called on President William Ruto and Azimio La Umoja leader Raila Odinga to stop demonstrations scheduled to start Wednesday.

Maendeleo Ya Wanawake and a section of the city business community have urged the two leaders to have Kenyans at heaert5 and to also avoid bloodshed.

The business community faulted the leaders for the planned mass demonstrations.

The members of the business community said the planned protests are recipe for chaos and destruction of property

“They have their businesses progressing while we struggle to do our business in the streets of Nairobi, we will not operate for three days,” said Kevin Theuri, a Nairobi-based businessman who led the members.

He said that they are advocating for peace as they called on the opposition to call off demonstrations

The members of business community spoke on Tuesday, July 18, at Muthaiga Police Station where they had gone to notify the police of their planned assemblies to protect their businesses during protests.

Maendeleo Ya Wanawake also weighed in,  calling for the dialogue between president Ruto and Odinga.

Chairperson, Rahab Muia, said the two need to talk for the sake of peace.

Muia urged Odinga to reconsider the three days protest planned to commence on Wednesday for the love he has to Kenyan people.

“To the former prime minister, we extend our respect and appeal to you to reconsider demonstrations. We hear you, sir, your voice is influential and we firmly believe that Kenyans listen to you. We humbly request that you reach out to the president for dialogue as it is the only way to navigate the challenges at hand and going forward,” Muia said.

Muia said Kenyans are looking up to President Ruto’s leadership to free up Kenyans from high cost of living.

“As a nation, we look up to your leadership. It is evident that life has become unbearably difficult for Kenyans. As a nationwide organization, we can confirm that numerous families are struggling to sustain themselves, often surviving on one meal a day or non,” Muia stated.

Zipporah Kittony condoled families that lost their loved ones in the previous protest and expressed the pain that a mother feels when she loses her child.

“Only a mother knows the pain of losing a child,” Kittony said.

Kittony also pleaded with President Ruto to hear Kenyan cries and help them find a long lasting solution that will be of benefit to everyone rather than portraying our weakness.

“We are paining and I am sure you have heard the cries of these mothers, and the more we portray our weaknesses the more we lose as a country in many ways,” she said.

Another business group said that the protests have had serious damage to their business in the past, especially those dealing in perishable goods.

The representatives from the different areas in the city said the three-day demonstrations scheduled to kick off Wednesday will cause major losses as they will affect opening their businesses due to security instability.

“Our businesses are hand to mouth and closing down for three days means that we will defy payment of loans and bills thus hunger strike,” said Sarah Wanjiru, Starehe constituency chairperson.

Wanjiru added that there is a need for the government to address the issues to enable them to work in peace and meet their daily needs.

“We want to work and pay taxes, not demonstrations and thus the government must ensure a conducive working environment,” she said.

According to Wanjiru, the protests will not only deter development in the business sector but cause pain as they lose fellow business associates, family and friends.

Nairobi central business District (CBD) hawkers ward secretary Ms Beatrice Wairimu called for civic education on picketing and demonstrations to guide demonstrators.

“The government should sensitize on peaceful ways of engaging protests as many do not understand the lawful way of participating in the protests,” said Wairimu.

Wairimu geared for talks by both the government and opposition to solve their quests without involving the common citizens warning clerics and religious leaders not to involve in politics rather join hands with Kenyans to pray for the country.

This comes even as the Opposition holds that they will hold country wide demonstrations to press the government to consider their disputing grievances to the benefit of common citizens.

(Wesley Koech, Sharlene Koech and Okumu Modachi)