Kenyans Reject The Finance Bill

In the last week, we have seen so much turmoil in Kenya that we need to discuss it. Kenya has been grappling with economic challenges including high inflation, rising public debt, and unemployment. These factors have heightened public sensitivity to government policies that may exacerbate economic hardship.

The recent riots in Kenya surrounding the rejection of the finance bill are rooted in a combination of economic pressures, political dissatisfaction, and social unrest. This article is a small breakdown of the situation:

The proposed finance bill includes measures such as new taxes and increased levies. These are intended to raise government revenue but are seen by many as burdensome, especially for the lower and middle-income populations.

The bill proposed new taxes on various goods and services. For example, it includes a housing levy, which is particularly contentious.

Value-added tax (VAT) and other excise duties were set to increase, making everyday goods and services more expensive. This tax also targets digital services, affecting both local and international companies operating in Kenya.

The finance bill sparked widespread protests across major cities. Citizens, especially from low-income areas, took to the streets to express their dissatisfaction with the government’s decision.

The protests turned violent in some areas, with clashes between demonstrators and police. There were reports of injuries, arrests, and deaths. Protesters argue that the new taxes will worsen the already difficult economic conditions, reducing their disposable income and increasing the cost of living. There is a fear that the new taxes will disproportionately affect the poor and widen the gap between the rich and the poor.

Opposition parties have capitalized on the public discontent, organizing and leading some of the protests. They argue that the government’s policies are misguided and that there are better ways to manage the economy without overburdening the citizens.

The government, though, maintains that the finance bill is necessary to address the fiscal deficit and ensure sustainable economic growth. They argue that the increased revenue from the new taxes will be used for development projects and public services.

The riots indicate a significant erosion of public trust in the government. Many citizens feel that their voices are not being heard and that the government is out of touch with the realities on the ground.

Social media platforms have become a critical tool for organizing and mobilizing protests. Hashtags, viral posts, and live streams have amplified the reach of the movement, bringing international attention to the issue. Digital activism has facilitated rapid information dissemination and coordination among protestors.

Gen Z, who are tech-savvy and highly active on social media, have played a significant role in the protests. They have used platforms like Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and TikTok to voice their opposition to the finance bill, share real-time updates, and call for action.

This has enabled Kenyan activists to connect with global movements and solidarity networks. International support and pressure can influence local governments and bring more attention to domestic issues.

What are your thoughts? What do you think of the new wave of protestors and the influence of digital activism and Gen Z in shaping contemporary social movements?

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