Youth seek to unseat MPs backing the Finance Bill

Protestors take cover after getting sprayed by a water canon in Nairobi on June 20, 2024. [Denis Kibuchi, Standard]

There is still no retreat, no surrender over the contentious Finance Bill, 2024.

As demonstrations against the Bill get to the second week, Gen Z have vowed to push towards recalling legislators who voted for the Finance Bill despite the push to reject it.

According to the youthful protestors, Monday was the beginning of yet another week of total shutdown, or what they term as ‘‘seven days of rage’’.

They insisted on smoking out MPs who betrayed their call, the daunting task involved in their removal, notwithstanding.

Already, a section of them have said they will collect signatures in their respective constituencies to recall defiant MPs.

“For the MPs who voted Yes, we want to say that they betrayed us because they have a duty to listen to the voices of their own constituents before making such a critical decision. When we lose our fears, they lose their power,” said a group of protestors in Lamu yesterday.

Other protesters in Nyali said; “We have the power in our hands and we decide who to give the power and who to take away the power from. It is very sad and shameful to know that some of our MPs have approved the Finance Bill. We elected you but now you have really ashamed us.”

They say they will invoke Article 1 of the Constitution, which states that the sovereign power belongs to the people as well as Article 104.

“The electorate under Articles 97 and 98 have the right to recall the MP representing their constituency before the end of the term of the relevant House of Parliament.  Parliament shall enact legislation to provide for the grounds on which an MP may be recalled and the procedure to be followed,” Article 104 states.

In an effort to clear the air, a section of MPs have had to explain to their constituents why they voted for the Finance Bill and insisted that the contentious sections were removed.

Over the weekend, a number of MPs had a rough time trying to address people, with some constituents vowing they will not vote for them again in the future.

John Kiarie (Dagoretti South) Didmus Barasa (Kimilli) and Malulu Injendi (Malava) are some of the MPs who had a rough time with their constituents.

“I engaged with the wonderful people of Kimilili at Chebukwabi market, where I explained my decision to them,” Barasa said.

In Malava, chaos rocked the town after youth stormed a function in search of Injendi, accusing him of betrayal because of voting for the Bill.

Rowdy youth stormed an event organised by Kakamega Woman Rep Elsie Muhanda who was expected to distribute water tanks in the constituency.

A group of youthful protesters, disrupted proceedings with chants of ‘‘Malulu must go’’ and brandished placards labelling the MP as a “traitor” and “Malulu Tawe” caused a stir.

Their actions halted the distribution efforts, diverting attention away from the charitable cause.

Muhanda attempted to restore order but the youth insisted on being heard.

Speaking on behalf of the protesters, one youth expressed their resolve to hold accountable MPs who voted Yes, specifically, targeting Injendi.

“Malulu must go. We appreciate our woman representative for voting No, and we pledge our unwavering support. Our protest is peaceful, and we have no issue with you because you are clean. But our MP must resign, and we will not relent. We are done with handouts; it’s time to voice our opinions. Please provide us with drinking water because our protest will continue until evening,” the youth stated.

Muhanda urged President William Ruto to address the concerns raised by the youth for the sake of maintaining peace in the country.

“As a mother, I appreciate your peaceful presence at my function, and I thank you for expressing yourselves. I voted No because of you, the youth,” she affirmed.

She also appealed to the demonstrators to allow President Ruto an opportunity to listen to their grievances.

Meanwhile, in Kakamega town, there was joy and applause for MP Titus Khamala, who voted against the Bill.

Khamala’s stance was hailed as bold and principled by constituents, particularly resonating with younger residents who felt their concerns had been acknowledged and acted upon.

“It’s reassuring to have an MP who listens to us and acts in our best interests,” remarked one of the youths.

In the aftermath of the Finance Bill’s passage to second reading, discontent has grown with the youth embarking on occupying MPs offices to shame those who supported the Bill.

As this happens, the Orange Democratic Movement (ODM) has already warned its members who voted for the Bill, saying it will initiate recalls.

ODM Secretary-General, Edwin Sifuna said they will hold a parliamentary group meeting to discuss the way forward.’’

[Report by Irene Githinji, Benard Lusigi and Mary Imenza]

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