A year of taxes, tokenism and same old issues

Sunday September 17 2023

First Lady Rachael Ruto (L) and President William Ruto greeting entrepreneurs during Madaraka Day celebrations in Embu County, Kenya on June 1, 2023. PHOTO | PCS


The Kenya Kwanza regime is now one year old. People use milestones of 100 days, one year, midterm and end of term to gauge success or otherwise of commitment to a stated programme. Companies under new management use these milestones to take stock of their transformative agenda. It is now common practice to use the same milestones to assess the progress of a new regime against its own campaign promises.

The Kenya Kwanza won the election by capturing the imagination of young people and those at the bottom of the economic ladder. It also took advantage of a groundswell of Christian faithful ever increasingly believing that God intervenes to uplift those who bow before Him in prayer. This strategy, as the election results proved, was a winning formula.

The youth, over the years, had become disillusioned with the ability of government to change their lives. They had seen corruption eating up their future. For example, in the first six years of the Jubilee administration, there was a marathon of theft: from heists at the National Youth Service, to millions paid to shadowy dam contractors, to heists at the ministry of health, etc.

Read: NGUGI: Living in the tenderpreneurs paradise in Kenya

Such was the scale of thievery that no less personages and institutions than the Pope, former US president Barack Obama and the European Union decried the heartlessness of this egregious plunder of a country.

People at the bottom of the economic stratum – the Mama Mbogas, Boda Boda riders, small farmers and businesspeople, etc – had also given up on ever seeing themselves rise above daily slave-like labour in order to put one meal on the table. Meanwhile, officials in government and politicians were living fabled lifestyles.


When people lose faith in government or in their own mental and physical efforts to change their welfare, they turn to faith, the occult, drugs and alcohol, they begin to see redemptive power in old forgotten, often harmful, cultural traditions. Over the past two decades, Kenya has seen an explosion of churches promising miraculous wealth to believers. Some youths have turned to alcohol and drugs. Some communities have begun to believe that their stagnation is due to their abandonment of ancient gods and customs.

In this social context, Kenya Kwanza’s promise of a government of the poor by the poor resonated heavily. Their real or hypocritical piousness struck a chord.

Read: Ruto: From a hustler to tax collector

One year on, the much-hyped “Hustler Fund” has proved to be mere tokenism. Cost of living continues to rise. The tax burden grows heavier. Thievery and apparent tribalism continue. The president and his deputy have conceded that their Cabinet members are inept and spend their time on trips to Europe. Instead of attending to these crises, the president and deputy have hit the campaign trail for 2027.

Info Track survey has indicated that a majority of Kenyans think the country is headed in the wrong direction. There is still time for the Kenya Kwanza regime to change its “spots’.” Let us pray.