Aynsley Genga is a JURIST Staff Correspondent in Kenya.
On Monday, a nationwide strike occurred in Kenya. We had towns like Kiambu, Muranga that had go-slow strikes while in towns such as Trans-Nzoia, Homabay, Kakamega, Kisumu and Nairobi there were actual demonstrations.
In areas such as Kisumu everyone was a hundred percent sure that the demonstrations would be a success since it is one of the strongholds of Raila Odinga (the Azimio opposition leader). When morning came in Nairobi most people were not sure the demonstrations would happen there due to various reasons. First, there had been rumours spreading online that the police had attempted to arrest prominent former Kenyan MP Martha Karua at her home on Sunday Night but they did not find her. Secondly, the police had managed to close off Nairobi’s central business district (CBD) as well as the Kibera slums thus preventing what people assumed was the majority of Raila’s support from joining the demonstrations. Lastly, throughout the course of the day there had been no word from Raila despite the chaos that was occurring both in the CBD and Kibera due to the police chasing away the protesters with tear gas. Many even started saying that the riot was unsuccessful until Raila appeared at around 3pm and decided instead of going to CBD as was expected he would go to random parts of Nairobi declaring his demand. He went to areas such as Mathare, Eastleigh and Kamukunji and to everyone’s surprise people came out in numbers to welcome him. Many stopped what they were doing just so they could be part of the impromptu rallies/demonstrations some even took their motorbikes and vehicles so that they could follow Raila’s motorcade. They did not care if they were talked by tear gas or even water cannons, the people were ready to battle it out if it meant their voices and cries would be heard by someone.
However, something that most people noticed during the demonstration is that most of the chaos was caused due to the presence of the police, especially in the morning when there was no proper media coverage yet. Moreover many were grateful and pleased with how media stations such as Citizen News carried themselves out during the demonstrations. It was because of such media stations that the public was able to follow what was happening as well as to ensure the police are kept in check thus saving countless of lives from being injured.
As stated earlier, due to lack of media coverage a lot of acts of brutality were carried out by the police regardless of whether the person was part of the demonstrations or not. Stories of how the police were brutally attacking people in their vicinity spread like wildfire and left many wondering if we pay taxes so that the police can endanger us instead of protect us. This was seen in Maseno University in Kisumu West, where police shot and killed one of the students and injured several more. Students of the university have been demonstrating since then while the deceased’s family has been left in shambles. It was a truly horrifying incident and I pray those responsible for the act will be brought to justice.
On Tuesday, many president Ruto’s allies came out to demand the arrest of Raila Odinga stating that his demonstrations are an outright act of disrespect for the law. Additionally, Raila also came out to declare that due to public demand, the demonstrations will be happening every Monday and Thursday as of next week. He went on to start his terms that need to be fulfilled in order for the protests to stops. Some of his terms include that opening of Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission(IEBC), the government to lower the cost of living and for the government to halt the current recruitment of the new IEBC officials. Raila also called for the boycotting of establishments such Safaricom(Mobile network operator company) and the Kenya Central Bank of Kenya, he claims that they are biased. President Ruto also came out to promise that he will ensure that businesses will make the most profits on those two days.
In the midst of everything that has happened, on Tuesday, Kenyans received word that the offices of President William Ruto, his deputy Rigathi Gachagua and Prime Cabinet Secretary Musalia Mudavadi have been allocated Sh802.2 million to buy motor vehicles in the current financial year. Many are wondering where the money for these vehicles is coming from. The public is both confused and outraged since it had even been a day since the government had complained about how much money the country has lost due to the demonstrations. Furthermore, people are wondering what happened to their previous cars and have also been left heartbroken since as time progresses it seems like the government does not care about its people. Many online are wondering how can the government keep doing such acts and yet out country keeps entering more and more debt as each day progresses.
In addition to all this, there is also the fact that the Cabinet on Tuesday approved the Privatisation Bill, 2023, which will strip MPs of their oversight role in the sale of state-owned corporations. This basically means that the National Treasury has the power to privatise public-owned enterprises without the approvals of Parliament. Thus, the government can basically sell this enterpises whenever they see fit without any proper consultation. This has angered many since President Ruto had promised to promote public-owned enterprises but instead he seems to be killing them which in turn means many are going to lose their jobs.