Joho: ODM will punish MPs who back Finance Bill

ODM deputy party leader Hassan Joho. [File, Standard]

Raila Odinga’s Orange Democratic Movement plans to discipline its lawmakers who will support the Finance Bill 2024, which many term “punitive”.

On Sunday, the party’s deputy leader Hassan Joho dared rebels to back the Bill that promised new taxes, even as he urged a bipartisan approach to defeating the proposed law.

The former Mombasa governor said the Bill would make life harder for Kenyan businesses, predicting mass closures.

“As representatives of the people, you must listen to the voice of the people and go to Parliament and debate on behalf and for the interest of the people. We have a position as ODM, that we are going to vehemently oppose the Bill... we have values as ODM and we will deal with anyone in defiance,” Joho said in Mombasa.

He did not specify the action ODM would take against its members who would endorse the Bill, even as he urged Kenya Kwanza lawmakers to defy President William Ruto and oppose it.

“This is not an ODM matter. We must get out of the shadows of our parties. It is not a political party issue... we are calling upon the other leaders. The priority is to consider the cries of the people,” stated Joho.

He said the Bill would make Kenyans poorer, equating it to economic sabotage, noting that it was the government’s job to empower its citizens. 

“Our country is at a moment when, unfortunately, leaders are contributing towards sabotaging our economy... the model deployed in Kenya has never worked elsewhere in the world,” added Joho, even as he accused Ruto of seeking to entrench a dependence on handouts at the expense of delivering tangible gains to Kenyans.

His remarks come days after ODM Secretary General Edwin Sifuna requested its Members of Parliament suspend foreign travel, directing that they vote against the Bill.

“I have been directed by the Party’s Central Committee to write to you to request that you be present in the House for the duration of the consideration of this Bill, from its tabling to voting,” Sifuna said in a letter sent to ODM’s 86 MPs.

The Finance Bill has attracted widespread criticism over new taxes that experts have warned would put the cost of living beyond the reach of many Kenyans.

Kenyans have led an online campaign against the Bill, spamming their lawmakers with messages to reject it.

Rights activist Boniface Mwangi, and others, have planned “occupy parliament” protests to pile pressure on MPs.

Ruto is scheduled to meet Kenya Kwanza MPs to drum up support for the controversial Bill.