n an orchestrated effort to counter President William Ruto’s Finance Bill 2023, opposition lawmakers from the Azimio la Umoja One Kenya Coalition have developed a multi-pronged strategy. The coalition, led by opposition leader Raila Odinga, seeks to sway the public and the National Assembly against the proposed tax increases.
The opposition aims to push for open voting on the bill, believing that most MPs will be reluctant to visibly support increased burdens on their constituents. By publicizing the voting results, Azimio hopes to brand those who vote in favor of higher taxes as “enemies of the people.” Additionally, the coalition is mobilizing ordinary Kenyans and various organizations to send memorandums to Parliament, rejecting the revenue-raising proposals.
If necessary, the opposition is prepared to resort to disruptive tactics, such as heckling colleagues during debates. Among the most contentious proposals is the government’s plan to double the value-added tax (VAT) on petroleum products from 8% to 16%. Furthermore, the opposition opposes the proposed Housing Fund, a 3% deduction from employee’s gross salaries matched by employers, capped at Sh5,000.
Deputy Minority Leader Robert Mbui expressed confidence that the Finance Bill would mark the first victory of Azimio over President Ruto in Parliament when sessions resume on June 6. The opposition intends to propose amendments to every clause of the bill, using these changes to derail the passage of the legislation and remove the “punitive” proposals.
Azimio la Umoja One Kenya Coalition has also targeted Kenya Kwanza MPs, particularly first-term representatives, arguing that it is too early for them to vote for a bill that would harm their constituents. Despite being in the minority, the opposition aims to use the debate to make their position clear to the public, to avoid blame if the bill passes.
While the opposition rallies against the bill, some worry that even if it doesn’t pass, President Ruto may opt to return it to the House with reservations, requiring a two-thirds majority to overturn. Azimio, however, remains steadfast in their conviction that the proposed legislation is detrimental to Kenyans.