Ruto and Raila should stop ego trips and dialogue

Azimio leader Raila Odinga and President William Ruto during the burial of former KNUT chairman Joseph Chirchir in Bureti, Kericho County, 2014. [DPPS]

"If you go to one demonstration and then go home, that is something, but the people in power can live with that. What they can't live with is sustained pressure that keeps building, organisations that keep doing things, people that keep learning lessons from the last time and doing it better the next time".

When l encountered this quote by Noam Chomsky, it reminded me of the current situation in Kenya: The anti-government protests that Kenyans have been using to put pressure on the government to lower the cost of living and repeal the controversial Finance Act 2023.

President William Ruto's administration has indicated it can live with the ongoing demonstrations, but what it can't stand is destruction of property and shutdown of the economy, hence the deployment of police contingents in every time the Opposition calls for demonstrations. However, if the government can't live with the sustained pressure, why not just repeal the Finance Act 2023?

The argument has always been that the government seeks to collect additional taxes to develop the country, but the fact is, Kenyans are hungry. They want food on the table and they want to buy basic commodities at affordable prices.

The fact is that the voices of Kenyans were not captured after public participation was conducted, the Finance Act is being viewed as a means of extracting money from Kenyans, not spurring growth.

The Finance Act 2023 taxation schedule will eat into the capital an individual would require to run a company. That is a recipe for tax evasion. The Finance Act is the reason a section of Kenyans, irked by a 16 per cent value addition tax on petroleum products, went to the streets to demonstrate. Unfortunately, the demonstrations have turned out to be chaotic; loss of lives, injuries and destruction of property. For how long should this continue?

Can't we solve our social, economic and political issues amicably through established dispute resolution mechanisms? Must we always talk at each other and resort to chaos during demonstrations? Let us be the voices of reason through our actions and utterances.

Article 37 of the Constitution gives Kenyans the right to picket and present their grievances peacefully, but that is the opposite of what we see. The government overturned the Constitution by blocking and even banning demonstrations, ostensibly because they are inherently chaotic.

It beats logic that the police, who are mandated to protect the law, are busy breaking the law, at times using excessive force to disperse protestors. The result is deaths and injuries to both parties. This is not to say that demonstrators are saints. Some have been seen looting and terrorising innocent Kenyans minding their own businesses.

The government should let Kenyans demonstrate peacefully without police interference. To win the trust of government, it is incumbent upon demo organisers to control their crowds and hand the unruly ones to the police. On their part, the police should do their work without being influenced by the politicians. President William Ruto and Azimio leader Raila Odinga should get rid of their egos and talk for the sake of peace.

Ms Czeda is a KTN news anchor-cum reporter

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