‘Ruto will not bend to Azimio’s threats and blackmail’ – Kidero
Former Nairobi Governor Evans Kidero says President William Ruto will not succumb to pressure from the opposition to repeal the Finance Act 2023.
Speaking during an interview on K24 TV on Wednesday morning, Kidero defended additional taxes introduced by Ruto's Kenya Kwanza administration, terming the Azimio la Umoja - One Kenya coalition's calls for mass action as mere "intimidation and blackmail" aimed at forcing the government to dance to the opposition's tune.
Kidero claimed that despite the doubling of Value Added Tax (VAT) on petroleum products from 8 to 16 per cent, fuel prices in the country were fair compared to most countries in the world.
"I do not think the President (Ruto) is going to cow down and bend to threats, intimidation and blackmail because that is what Azimio is doing. The price of petrol has gone up in not only Africa but the whole world. Kenya even with this price increase is in the middle," Kidero said.
He accused Azimio leader Raila Odinga of doublespeak, saying the former prime minister supported some of the tax measures introduced by President Ruto in the previous administration of President Uhuru Kenyatta.
"If you go back into history in several situations back in 2018 Raila as soon as there was the handshake he was the biggest defendant of increase of prices of unga and fuel," he added.
Kidero is among allies of President Ruto who believe Raila wants to use anti-government protests to force a handshake with the Head of State, ostensibly to get a share of the Kenya Kwanza administration.
The opposition leader is set to lead a mega rally at Kamukunji Grounds on July 7, 2023, popularly known as 'Saba Saba' Day, to protest against tax measures introduced by the government to boost its revenue.
"Ruto is imposing taxes without our consent and implementing laws that only make our lives more difficult. We cannot tolerate the current state of taxation and its accompanying injustices any longer. Ruto has even removed subsidies on essential goods like fuel, unga (maize flour), electricity, and school fees, while providing subsidies to helicopter owners and financing the lavish lifestyles of his allies with our hard-earned money.
"It is evident that we are dealing with a heartless tyrant who shows no regard for the people. We are determined to rectify this situation. Therefore, we are here to announce that our Kamukunji meeting will take place in Nairobi this Friday, as previously announced," Raila said in a statement on Tuesday.
The opposition chief is banking on civil disobedience to force Ruto to act on Azimio's demands. This, he says, will entail a refusal to pay taxes to the government.