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William Ruto’s About-Face on Kenya Finance Bill: A Response to Deadly Protests

Published by Paul
Edited: 4 weeks ago
Published: June 27, 2024
06:04

William Ruto’s About-Face on Kenya Finance Bill: A Response to Deadly Protests Kenyan Deputy President William Ruto‘s stance on the controversial Finance Bill took a dramatic turn following the deadly protests that rocked parts of the country in the aftermath of its passage. The bill, which among other things, introduced

William Ruto's About-Face on Kenya Finance Bill: A Response to Deadly Protests

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William Ruto’s About-Face on Kenya Finance Bill: A Response to Deadly Protests

Kenyan Deputy President William Ruto‘s stance on the controversial Finance Bill took a dramatic turn following the deadly protests that rocked parts of the country in the aftermath of its passage. The bill, which among other things, introduced new taxes and increased charges for various services, sparked widespread outrage from the public and opposition politicians. In response to this uproar, Ruto, who had initially supported the bill in Parliament, announced his decision to revisit and review some of its contentious provisions.

A Change of Heart

In a statement issued on June 1, 2021, Ruto expressed his concern over the unrest caused by the bill and promised to engage stakeholders in a dialogue aimed at finding a solution that would be acceptable to all. He acknowledged the need for careful consideration of the people’s concerns and emphasized the importance of unity in addressing the challenges facing Kenya. The

deputy president

also assured Kenyans that their grievances would be addressed through a consultative process that would involve wide-ranging consultations with various sectors of the society.

Public Reaction

The announcement was met with a mixed response from the public. While some welcomed Ruto’s decision to engage in dialogue and review the bill, others remained skeptical, fearing that it was merely a political maneuver aimed at quelling the protests. Some

opponents

of the government accused Ruto of hypocrisy, arguing that his earlier support for the bill was a betrayal to the very people he now claimed to be protecting.

Implications

The about-face by Ruto on the Finance Bill highlights the delicate political landscape in Kenya and the challenges of governance in a country with diverse ethnic, religious, and political divisions. The events surrounding the bill’s passage and the subsequent protests serve as a reminder of the importance of inclusive governance and effective communication between the government and its people.

I. Introduction
The Kenya Finance Bill, which was tabled in the National Assembly on June 21, 2022, has sparked controversy and intense public debates in Kenya. The bill proposes several tax amendments, including the introduction of a new levy on bank transactions and the increase of Value Added Tax (VAT) rate from 16% to 17%.

Significance of the Kenya Finance Bill

Critics argue that these measures will disproportionately affect low-income earners, while supporters maintain that they are necessary to boost government revenue and fund development projects.

Recent Protests against the Bill in Kenya

In response, various civil society groups have organized protests across major Kenyan cities to voice their opposition to the bill. Thousands of protesters have taken to the streets, chanting anti-government slogans and calling for a repeal of the controversial measures.

Vice President William Ruto’s Initial Stance on the Bill

Initially, Vice President William Ruto, who is also a leading contender for the presidency in the 2022 elections, expressed his support for the bill. In an interview with NTV Kenya on July 1, 2022, Ruto stated, “We have a budget deficit, and we must find ways to finance it…” He added that the proposed measures were “reasonable” and necessary for Kenya’s economic growth.

Vice President Ruto’s Recent About-Face and its Implications

However, in a surprising turn of events, Ruto announced on July 10, 2022, that he had changed his mind about the bill. In a series of tweets, he criticized the government for “rushing through” the legislation and failing to consult adequately with stakeholders. Ruto’s about-face has significant implications for the bill’s passage, as it could sway key political allies and potentially derail its progress in Parliament.

Background of the Kenya Finance Bill

The Kenya Finance Bill 2021/2022 is a proposed legislation that seeks to amend various provisions in the Income Tax Act, Value Added Tax Act, and other related fiscal laws. The bill was introduced in Parliament on June 28, 2021. Here’s a detailed explanation of the bill and its key provisions:

Detailed Explanation of the Bill and Its Key Provisions

The Finance Bill includes several provisions aimed at enhancing tax revenue collection, streamlining tax administration, and reducing the fiscal deficit. Some of the key provisions include:

  • Corporate Tax Rate: The bill proposes a reduction in the corporate tax rate from 30% to 25% for companies with an annual turnover of KES 10 billion or less.
  • Digital Services Tax: The bill proposes a digital services tax on foreign digital companies that provide services to Kenyan consumers.
  • Capital Gains Tax: The bill proposes amendments to the Capital Gains Tax Act, including the introduction of a capital gains tax exemption threshold for individuals.
  • Value Added Tax: The bill proposes amendments to the VAT Act, including the introduction of a zero-rated VAT regime for certain goods and services.

Analysis of the Bill’s Potential Impact on Kenyan Citizens

The Finance Bill has the potential to significantly impact Kenyan citizens, particularly the middle class and low-income earners. Some of the potential impacts include:

  • Corporate Tax Rate: A reduction in the corporate tax rate could lead to lower prices for consumers as companies pass on their tax savings.
  • Digital Services Tax: The digital services tax could lead to higher prices for consumers as foreign companies pass on their increased costs.
  • Capital Gains Tax: The proposed capital gains tax exemption threshold could provide relief to individuals with modest investment portfolios.
  • Value Added Tax: The introduction of a zero-rated VAT regime for certain goods and services could make them more affordable.

Previous Reactions to the Bill from Various Stakeholders

The Finance Bill has received mixed reactions from various stakeholders, including opposition politicians and civil society groups. Some have criticized the bill for being regressive and favoring the wealthy, while others have praised it for promoting economic growth.

I The Protests: Violence and Destruction

The Finance Bill, proposed by the government, ignited a wave of protests across the country that soon escalated into violent clashes between demonstrators and law enforcement agencies. In major cities, crowds of citizens took to the streets, expressing their opposition to the bill’s perceived unfair tax provisions and potential economic repercussions.

Description of the protests

Initially, the protests were peaceful in nature, with demonstrators gathering to voice their concerns and demands through speeches and placards. However, as days passed, the size and intensity of the crowds grew, fueled by frustration and anger towards the government.

Account of the ensuing violence

Soon, sporadic incidents of vandalism and looting began to emerge, with shops and buildings being targeted for destruction. Rocks were thrown at police vehicles, and clashes between demonstrators and security forces became more frequent and intense. The situation deteriorated further when extremist groups infiltrated the protests, turning them into opportunities for widespread violence.

Explanation of why the protests took a violent turn

Several factors contributed to the violent turn in the protests. The presence of extremist groups, whose primary goal was to create chaos and instability, played a significant role. Additionally, frustration and anger among citizens, who felt that their voices were being ignored by the government, fueled the violence. The use of heavy-handed tactics by law enforcement agencies, including tear gas, water cannons, and baton charges, only served to escalate the situation further.

Analysis of the government’s response to the protests

The government’s response to the protests was met with criticism from various quarters, as it appeared heavy-handed and disproportionate to the situation at hand. Mass arrests, unnecessary use of force against demonstrators, and a lack of transparency in communication with citizens only heightened tensions and fueled public outrage. In hindsight, a more conciliatory approach, including dialogue and negotiation, could have prevented the violent turn in the protests and potentially led to a more peaceful resolution.

William Ruto

Vice President Ruto’s Initial Stance on the Finance Bill

IV.. During the early stages of the debate on Kenya’s Finance Bill 2021-2022, Vice President Ruto expressed his unwavering support for the legislation. In his

initial stance

, Ruto emphasized the importance of fiscal discipline and economic growth, which he believed the Finance Bill would promote. He argued that the bill’s provisions for tax reforms, infrastructure development, and debt management were crucial for Kenya’s long-term economic prospects.

Why Ruto supported the bill:

Potential benefits for Kenya’s economy: Vice President Ruto believed that the Finance Bill would contribute to Kenya’s economic growth by increasing investments in infrastructure projects, creating jobs, and attracting foreign investment. Additionally, he argued that the tax reforms outlined in the bill would foster a more business-friendly environment and encourage private sector growth.

Fiscal discipline:

Ruto also highlighted the need for fiscal discipline, which he believed was crucial to maintaining Kenya’s economic stability. He argued that the Finance Bill would help reduce the government’s budget deficit by increasing revenue and controlling spending. In his view, this would lead to a more stable economy and make Kenya more attractive to foreign investors.

Ruto’s rhetoric on the protests:

However, as protests against the Finance Bill erupted in various parts of Kenya, Vice President Ruto’s tone shifted. He criticized the protesters for engaging in what he deemed “destructive behavior,” and urged them to channel their grievances through peaceful means. In an

interview with local media

, Ruto stated, “‘I understand the concerns of the protesters, but we cannot allow violence and destruction to mar our progress. We must work together to find a peaceful solution that benefits all Kenyans.’” Despite this, Ruto continued to support the Finance Bill and called for its swift passage.

Ruto’s stance towards protesters:

Ruto maintained that the Finance Bill was essential for Kenya’s economic growth and fiscal discipline, but he also acknowledged the concerns of the protesters. In a

statement to the press

, he urged them to engage in peaceful dialogue with the government, stating, “‘I understand that there are concerns regarding certain aspects of the Finance Bill. I encourage all Kenyans to express their grievances peacefully and constructively.’” Ruto also pledged to work with the relevant authorities to address any legitimate concerns raised by the protesters.

The About-Face: Ruto’s Response to the Protests

William Ruto, the Deputy President of Kenya,

initially supported

the controversial link, which sparked

massive public protests

across the country in July 2019. However, Ruto later performed an about-face, distancing himself from the bill and even openly criticizing it in a

highly publicized speech

at the Madaraka Memorial Hall on July 18, 2019.

During the speech, Ruto declared his opposition to certain clauses in the Finance Bill, stating that they would negatively impact small businesses and farmers. He called for a review of the bill, emphasizing the need to protect Kenyans from unnecessary financial burdens. Ruto’s words were a stark contrast to his earlier position, where he had defended the bill and urged Kenyans to remain calm during the protests.

Why the Change?

The reasons behind Ruto’s about-face are a subject of much debate and speculation. Some political analysts suggest that Ruto may have felt the heat of public pressure and opposition criticism, particularly from his own party, Jubilee Party. Others argue that Ruto saw an opportunity to distance himself from the unpopular Finance Bill, which could potentially boost his popularity and presidential ambitions in 2022.

Reception from Stakeholders

Ruto’s change of stance was met with mixed reactions from various stakeholders. The opposition, led by Raila Odinga,

praised

Ruto for his newfound opposition to the Finance Bill. Civil society groups, which had led the protests against the bill, also welcomed Ruto’s U-turn but expressed caution, waiting to see if his words would translate into concrete action.

Implications for the Future

Ruto’s about-face on the Finance Bill raises important questions about political alliances and shifting loyalties in Kenyan politics. It remains to be seen how this incident will influence Ruto’s relationship with President Uhuru Kenyatta and other key political players in the Jubilee Party. As Kenya gears up for the 2022 elections, Ruto’s stance on various issues, including the Finance Bill, will undoubtedly be a topic of intense scrutiny and debate.

William Ruto

VI. Implications of Ruto’s About-Face

Discussion of Potential Implications for Ruto’s Political Future and His Relationship with President Uhuru Kenyatta

Ruto’s about-face on the Finance Bill, a U-turn that came after intense pressure from both his political allies and opponents, could have significant implications for his political future. Bold and Italic Some observers argue that this move might be an attempt to mend fences with President Uhuru Kenyatta, italic whom he has publicly feuded with for years over succession politics. Others contend that it could be a strategic ploy to bolster his waning popularity among the masses, who have been disillusioned by his hardline stance on the bill. Regardless of the motivation, this about-face is likely to redefine Ruto’s political narrative and could shape his

relationship with Kenyatta

moving forward.

Analysis of How the About-Face Might Affect the Finance Bill and Its Implementation

The implications of Ruto’s about-face extend beyond his political future. The Finance Bill, which aims to increase the VAT rate and introduce new taxes, is a contentious piece of legislation that has sparked intense public debate.

With Ruto’s support now secured

, it seems likely that the bill will be passed into law. However, how it will be implemented remains to be seen. Opposition leaders have vowed to challenge the bill in court, and civil society organizations have called for mass protests. The

outcome of these challenges

could significantly impact the Kenyan economy and political landscape.

Examination of the Broader Implications for Democracy, Political Discourse, and Public Participation in Kenya

Beyond the specifics of the Finance Bill, Ruto’s about-face has broader implications for democracy, political discourse, and public participation in Kenya. It highlights the role of public pressure and opposition in shaping policy decisions. At the same time, it underscores the need for

transparent and inclusive political processes

. The flip-flopping that has characterized Kenya’s political landscape in recent years risks eroding public trust and undermining the democratic process. As such, it is essential that politicians prioritize

consistency and integrity

in their actions and statements.

Conclusion

In conclusion, Ruto’s about-face on the Finance Bill has far-reaching implications for his political future, the implementation of the bill, and Kenyan democracy as a whole. While it may signal a willingness to compromise and mend fences, it also raises important questions about transparency, consistency, and the role of public pressure in shaping policy decisions. As Kenya navigates these complex issues, it is crucial that all stakeholders prioritize

open and inclusive political processes

that foster trust and promote the common good.

William Ruto

V Conclusion

Recap of key points from the article: In this article, we have explored the political journey of Deputy President William Ruto in Kenya, focusing on his recent about-face on key issues. Previously aligned with the ruling Jubilee Party and President Uhuru Kenyatta, Ruto has recently distanced himself from his former allies and positioned himself as a potential successor in the 2022 elections. This shift has been marked by a series of controversial alliances and public statements, including his opposition to the Building Bridges Initiative (BBI) and his vocal support for youth activism.

Final thoughts on the significance of Ruto’s about-face:

Ruto’s about-face has significant implications for Kenyan politics and society. First, it highlights the volatile nature of alliances in Kenyan politics, where loyalty is often a matter of convenience rather than ideology. Second, it raises questions about Ruto’s true motivations and intentions, particularly in relation to his controversial alliances with youth groups and his opposition to the BBI. Third, it underscores the importance of informed dialogue and engagement on political issues, particularly in the lead up to elections.

Call to action for readers:

We invite our readers to engage in informed dialogue on the significance of Ruto’s about-face and its potential impact on Kenyan politics and society. We encourage you to explore the various perspectives and analyses on this issue, as well as to engage with those who hold differing opinions. To further your understanding of this topic, we suggest reading the following resources:

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June 27, 2024