MULTI-PRONGED STRATEGY

How Azimio is planning to defeat Ruto tax proposals

Azimio has convened a Parliamentary Group meeting on Tuesday to deliberate on how to block the passage of the Bill.

In Summary

• The Finance Bill 2024 that will be tabled on Tuesday is the subject of controversy

• Azimio has convened a Parliamentary Group meeting to plan how to block it

Ugunja MP Opiyo wandayi speaking in Siaya on June 11, 2024.
Ugunja MP Opiyo wandayi speaking in Siaya on June 11, 2024.
Image: FAITH MATETE

Azimio la Umoja has crafted a multi-pronged plan to ensure that President William Ruto’s controversial tax proposal does not pass.

The plan, which is meant to defeat Finance Bill 2024 in totality, will play out in the House, courts as well as on the streets.

The bill contains revenue-raising measures and will be tabled on Tuesday and debated for two days before the House takes a vote.

Opposition MPs will on the same day convene in Parliament buildings to deliberate on the contents of the bill as tabled by the Finance Committee.

“Upon consultations, we have scheduled a PG meeting in the Mini Chamber at County Hall on Tuesday, 18th June 2024, at 5pm," an invite seen by the Star read.

“The meeting shall deliberate on the Finance Bill 2024 and chart the strategic way forward. Let's endeavour to acquaint ourselves with the bill before that time. Physical attendance is mandatory. Thank you.”

National Assembly minority leader Opiyo Wandayi told the Star his troops will mount unprecedented roadblocks to ensure the tax proposals do not see the light of day.

“The issue of budget deficit will kill us. You are borrowing and increasing taxes. This is why the Finance Bill 2024 is so unpopular with Kenyans,” he said.

"Azimio has instructed all its MPs to ensure they turn up 100 per cent during the debate and voting on this bill.

“We have instructed all our MPs not to undertake foreign trips next week. We will pull out those who are sick to come and vote against this bill.”

Already, ODM secretary general Edwin Sifuna has written to all the 86 lawmakers from the outfit to be present in the House for the duration of the consideration of the Finance Bill 2024.

“You are further requested to suspend any other engagements that would otherwise see you out of Nairobi during this critical period,” the letter reads in part.

Sifuna said any MP who will have compelling reasons to be out of the country during the period is required to inform the party in advance.

The ODM moves appears to forestall a situation similar to last year, when 28 MPs were a no-show during the vote on the Finance Bill 2023.

Despite the glaring numerical disadvantage, Azimio has instructed all its members to attend the next week’s session and vote against the bill.

Wandayi said they will be reaching out to disgruntled Kenya Kwanza MPs to also vote against the increased taxation.

“We are talking to Kenya Kwanza MPs opposed to this bill,” the Ugunja lawmaker said.

Deputy President Rigathi Gachagua’s camp is already threatening to shoot down Finance Bill 2024, which they say contains punitive sections and would impose onerous taxation and levies.

The lawmakers, mainly from Mt Kenya, have identified sections for amendments as they consider them offensive to the common wananchi.

The alliance between Gachagua’s team and Azimio during the vote could seriously puncture Ruto’s revenue-raising plans through the bill.

The collabo could also be buoyed by an immense split by some of Ruto's allies who decamped from Azimio to work with the government.

The split was pronounced over the weekend during the burial of Kisumu Senator Tom Ojienda’s mother, when the leaders differed on how to handle the tax proposal.

While Bondo MP Gideon Ochanda called for the passage of Finance Bill 2024, his Ugenya counterpart David Ochieng’s called for its rejection.

“We have heard you loud and clear and we will vote NO,” Ochieng’ said on Saturady in Gem Rae, Kisumu county.

The two are among the nine MPs from Azimio who declared support to President William Ruto and his administration.

Should they lose the fight on the floor of the House, Azimio is also mulling judicial intervention to block the implementation of some of the contentious issues in the bill, if not all.

Azimio has also assembled a team of legal minds to comb through the bill and identify some of the legal loopholes that can be used to challenge it in court.

Rarieda MP Otiende Amollo confirmed the planned legal path, saying he is ready to move to court should the government railroad the bill in the house.

“Like its 2023 predecessor, I am happy to demonstrate its illegalities in court if Bunge (National Assembly) won’t listen,” Otiende said.

The Star has also established that the opposition is also contemplating going to the streets to protest the taxes should they lose it both in the house and the courts.

Last year, Azimio staged weeks of street demonstrations to oppose the passage of Finance Bill 2023.

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