Home NewsAfrica Youth-Led Protests in Kenya Force President Ruto to Reconsider Tax Bill

Youth-Led Protests in Kenya Force President Ruto to Reconsider Tax Bill

by Thaabit Kamaar
Image Source: Euro News

Kenya – The recent youth-led protests in Kenya, which forced President William Ruto to step back from signing the controversial tax bill, have left the nation grappling with mixed emotions. While many participants feel a sense of victory, social advocate and Kenyan student Sophia Wabosha believes the fight is not yet over.

She points out that the Kenyan Parliament can still pass the bill within 21 days. Like many others, Wabosha will only celebrate once the bill is rejected and scrapped.

“We will celebrate victory once the things that we have set in place, like when it comes to the financial bill [being looked at and changed]. [For now] we have rejected it. The bill has been sent to Parliament, but again, if nothing has been done in the next 21 days, it’s still passed as law. So we are not yet there to celebrate.”

Though the protests caused the government to retract the tax proposals, their victory came at a heavy price. The police response to what were largely described as nationwide peaceful protests was lethal. Their force resulted in the deaths of over 20 people, injuries to dozens, and the arrests of hundreds more.

Wabosha expressed that the loss of these young people, her fellow citizens, casts a sombre shadow over the nation’s narrow victory. Many are now reportedly calling for President Ruto to step down.

“We are still mourning the deaths of the young people who were shot and who were killed while they were peacefully demonstrating. I think the focus could easily be given to the protest itself, but forgetting just how difficult it is for young people in Kenya to try and survive.”

The Dire Conditions of the Kenyan Youth

According to Wabosha, the tax bill would have worsened the living conditions of the Kenyan people, particularly the youth, who are already grappling with high unemployment rates and limited opportunities despite many having attained tertiary-level qualifications.

The bill proposed additional taxes on a generation already struggling and unable to pay. This would have further exacerbated their frustration and desperation, which initially led them to plan and organise these nationwide protests.

“The youth in Kenya are suffering, and this bill that was supposed to be passed, or now it has been declined by the President, was going to impose taxes for youth over 25 years to pay taxes regardless of whether you are employed or unemployed.”

Despite President Ruto not signing the bill, many protesters have vowed to continue their efforts even if the bill is eventually passed. However, some are more cautious due to the deaths of their fellow citizens and the violence perpetrated against them, which has deterred some from continuing.

Nevertheless, Wabosha, inspired by the unity of the Kenyan people for a common cause, called on the protesters and the youth to remain united and peaceful. She emphasised that only together can they hold their government accountable, drive change, and create a better life for each other.

“As youths, let’s stay united, let’s stay informed, and let’s remain peaceful. Our voices are very powerful when we are together, and we are going to drive the change that we want to see.”

“We shouldn’t underestimate the impact that we have on our communities and our country. We’ve seen it happen right now, but at the same time, let’s be very strategic with our moves and just stay united.”

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