What indictment of Ruto-Rigathi administration!

Sunday June 30 2024

President William Ruto addressing the nation at State House Nairobi, Kenya where he announced the government’s plan to withdraw the contentious Finance Bill 2024 on June 26, 2024. PHOTO | FRANCIS NDERITU | NMG


Tuesday, June 25, 2024 will go down in history as a day of ignominy. On this day, police fired on youth protesting the punitive Finance Bill, 2024.

At parliament, more than 10 youth were killed, and hundreds wounded. Later that night, there were reports of killing of scores of other protesters in the Githurai, north of Nairobi. To further crack down on the demonstrations, the government deployed the Kenya Defence Forces in the streets.

How did parliament descend further from being a place where ideas die to the scene of literal death of impoverished youth? The answer is a study of the nexus between corrupted political power and financial corruption. The youth who were executed at parliament did not wake up that day and decided, “Oh , boy, what a nice day to storm parliamen and get shot!”

The massacre came after months of agitation against the cost of living and the Finance Bill, 2024. Petitions by people from various sections of society were sent to parliament. Catholic Bishops sent a petition. Employers, as did opposition politicians, warned against the tax proposals in the Bill. Economists expressed concern about effects of some of the proposed taxes.

Read: NGUGI: African leaders need to acquire a sense of shame

But parliament, effectively an extension of the Executive, just like in the Moi times, refused to listen. The youth, suffering record rates of unemployment and poverty, began to protest on social media. Still, the regime and parliament refused to listen. As a matter of fact, many regime loyalists vowed publicly that the Bill would pass whether people liked it or not.


So, the youth came out to demand withdrawal of the Bill. The regime patronised them as “our children” who just need guidance.

One legislator, foaming at the mouth, claimed that pictures of the demonstrations were photoshopped from other countries. I suppose he will now say the dead bodies at parliament were also photoshopped. Political power and monetary inducement have brain-sapping power.

On Tuesday, youth poured, in their thousands, into the streets of virtually every Kenyan town. Even Kenyans in the US protested outside the Kenyan embassy.

The young protesters were tribeless, partyless and fearless. As it became imminent the MPs would pass the Bill, the youth stormed parliament in the midst of fierce gunfire, preferring to die rather than face a grim future. What a terrible indictment of the Ruto-Gachagua regime!

President William Ruto called the protests “treasonous” and claimed they were funded by unnamed people. He cannot conceive of the idea that people can organise and sacrifice their lives for a cause larger than themselves.

Moi, too, claimed protests for return to democracy were influenced and funded by foreigners. He could not understand that people, of their own volition, could demand an end to his corrupt, tyrannical, and so-called God-fearing regime.

The Finance Bill, though, was just the trigger. Kenyans were aggrieved by the corruption, wastefulness and decadent opulence of the regime.