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Gen-Z-led anti-tax protests rock Ruto's hometown

Rift Valley
 A screenshot of youthful protesters in Eldoret Town on June 20, 2024.

A multitude of Generation Z protesting against the Finance Bill 2024 stormed the streets of President William Ruto’s hometown, Eldoret.

Thousands of youthful protesters took to the streets, chanting anti-Finance Bill 2024 and waving anti-government placards.

They gathered outside Zion Mall as a small group at 9am but turned into a mammoth crowd, marching along several streets of the North Rift town.

Police officers kept vigil, trailing the huge crowd in a lorry but did not disperse them.

Business activities however went on without interruption as the country's modern-day protesters marched through Ronald Ngala Street, Nandi Road, Oginga Odinga Street and Uganda Road among other busy streets in Eldoret Central Business District.

 One of the UDA symbols in Eldoret Town being pulled down. [Simion Chepkwony, Standard]

The Gen-Zs were peaceful but pulled down the United Democratic Alliance (UDA) symbolic wheelbarrow at the Oginga Odinga Street roundabout.

They carried placards with the hashtag #RejectFinanceBill as they chanted Ruto Must Go.

One of the placards read “Enemy number one; corruption, two – over taxation, three- unemployment.” Others read: “Ruto for Sale.”

They also marched along areas near the Uasin Gishu County government and County Commissioner’s office in Eldoret, blowing whistles and chanting ‘Ruto must go’ and ‘Yote Yawezekana bila Ruto.’

 One of the protesters lifts an anti-Ruto slogan. [Simion Chepkwony, Standard]

When they spoke amidst the protest in the afternoon, the youth told President William Ruto to immediately announce the withdrawal of Finance Bill 2024 from parliament.

“I am Abel Misoi from Kambi Samaki where President Ruto sold chicken as a hustler. We voted for the President expecting that he would create job opportunities for the youth. Right now, many young Kenyans are leaving Kenya for other countries. You (Ruto) should stop forcing unpopular policies down our throats,” one of the protesting Gen-Zs said.

 Some of the closed shops within Eldoret Town as youth staged anti-tax protests on June 20, 2024. [Simion Chepkwony, Standard]

Misoi fired a warning shot to MPs who will vote in support of the Finance Bill, saying the youth will reject them in constituencies.

“I urge all Kenyans to support Gen-Zs in pushing for the rejection of Finance Bill 2024. If our MPs fail to defend our interests in parliament, we will reject them at home,” he appealed.

Law student Jessica Damar said Gen-Zs will not rest until the bill is rejected.

 Anti-tax protesters in Nakuru Town on June 20, 2024. [Daniel Chege, Standard]

She said it was painful that the government was allegedly proposing taxes on cancer diagnosis and treatment.

“We were proposed a government that would uplift hustlers. We are wondering whose government is this. The Finance Bill does not represent the interests of Kenyans and public participation is a sham,” the university student said.

Joeline Chepchirchir said: “I want President Ruto to reduce taxation to the lowest level. The price of food remains high and life is becoming harder by the day.”

 Anti-tax protesters in Eldoret Town on June 20, 2024. [Simion Chepkwony, Standard]

Other protesters told the President to slam the brakes on over-borrowing if the country is to live within its means.

Richard Rotara from the Kenyans for Justice movement thanked the police for allowing the demonstrations to continue uninterrupted.

“The police are doing a good job. We are defending their rights through these protests. They are underpaid and are suffering in silence,” said Rotara.

 Anti-tax protesters in Nakuru Town on June 20, 2024. [Daniel Chege, Standard]

The activist said the punitive taxes in the Finance Bill 2024 were indications that the young Kenyans were revolting against punitive policies.

“The government was not genuine when it dropped some tax proposals. We know that more punitive taxes are still in the bill. Kenyans are no longer foolish,” he said.

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