President Uhuru Kenyatta may be the next target in the push by the Kenya Kwanza administration which seeks to ensure that all Kenyans pay taxes
This comes a day after public debate ensued online as to why former Presidents Jomo Kenyatta and Daniel Moi had a law gazetted exempting them from paying estate inheritance tax while all other Kenyans were subject to the law.
According to the Estate Duty Act Cap 483 of 1963, a tax known as estate duty shall be levied and paid on all property of which the deceased was at the time of his death competent to dispose of and all property in which the deceased or any other person had an interest ceasing upon the death of the deceased.
However, section 7(3), states that” This section shall not apply to His Excellency Mzee Jomo Kenyatta, nor to His Excellency Daniel Toroitich Arap Moi.”
On Monday, Kenya Kwanza Senators led by John Methu (Nyandarua) further played up the matter calling on the National Assembly to investigate tax waivers enjoyed by the Kenyatta family during former President Uhuru’s tenure. The senators also want an audit of Uhuru’s wealth to establish whether the former First family dully paid its land rates.
"Kayole residents are remitting their land rates but the rich are not paying," said Methu.
The demand for scrutiny of Kenyatta’s wealth come after President William Ruto’s push to have powerful individuals in previous governments held accountable and start paying taxes.
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Speaking in Mombasa on Monday, Ruto said that the recent political rallies organised by Azimio leader Raila Odinga were a guise to frustrate his efforts to enforce the new tax reforms and a clampdown on tax evasion. The president claimed that tax evaders were financiers of the opposition rallies.
"We cannot continue to operate in a space where those in power exempt themselves from paying taxes. Their day is up. Every citizen must pay taxes. Even if they sponsor demos so they don't pay tax, they will pay," he said.
The statement is indicative of a direct collision between the president and his predecessor and a first in a country that has seen past criminal cases including tax-related issues against current officeholders in the Kenya Kwanza administration dropped.
Despite Kenya experiencing an almost economic meltdown occasioned by graft under the Moi administration prompting Transparency International to name the country one of the world's five most corrupt countries in 1998, not much was done to bring justice once the new administration took office.
Inquiries done post-2002 into what transpired during the late President Moi’s administration between 1978 and 2002 revealed billions of shillings were lost to corruption leading to inflation and depreciation of the Kenyan currency.
No major arrests were made and no senior government official paid the price for an era that saw widespread corruption infect the country’s public sector.
A similar situation obtained in the Kibaki administration. This time around, a few big fish faced the law. They included Kibaki ally David Mwiraria and the Khamanis.
Similarly, while the new government took shape in 2002, Kibaki also came to President Moi’s rescue after a plot within the government intended to evict the former president from his Kabarak home where he took residence during his time as Vice President in 1967. Kabarak gardens was the official residence of the VP.
Kibaki went ahead to reward his predecessor with a title deed ending the eviction debate and making the residence a permanent property for the Moi family.
Despite promises made by the Kibaki administration to fight corruption little was done as the government found itself in the same pit after anti-corruption czar, John Githongo disclosed allegations that corruption in the country went all the way up to the presidency.
Similarly, Uhuru did not pursue some of the individuals incriminated in shady deals. Ruto and his allies are calling for amends among powerful individuals in the previous administration.