Africa Workers' Movement

Mass rebellion in Kenya

By Revolutionary Socialist League – Kenya

After a week of mass protests, millions of Kenyans took to the streets this Tuesday, June 25, against the Finance Bill 2024, storming the national parliament and setting fire to it. State repression killed at least 17 protestors, injured at least 86 and abducted and disappeared at least 20 activists.

The bill, designed by neoliberal president William Ruto together with the IMF and the World Bank, would considerably increase the taxes of majority of the people. Massive protests grew over the precious days, accompanied by a “national shutdown”. And the social explosion occurred as parliament voted the provisional approval of the bill with 195 votes against 106.

After the vote, lawmakers fled like rats through underground tunnels as thousands of protesters broke into the legislative palace and set it on fire. The police fired live rounds as well as rubber bullets and tear gas, with a fatal outcome of a yet uncertain magnitude. At least 20 people, including various social media influencers with numerous audiences, journalists and one doctor have been disappeared; their whereabouts are still unknown. The internet connection was cut off for several hours and has since been sporadic and weak, and they are threatening to close television channels.

Millions mobilized across the country shouting “Ruto must go”, while thousands chanted in Swahili “Everything is possible without Ruto”. Music blared from loudspeakers as protesters waved Kenyan flags and whistled.

The finance bill aims to raise an additional $2.7 billion in taxes as part of an effort to lighten the heavy debt load, with interest payments alone consuming 37% of annual revenue. This is seen by many as a direct attack on the economic well-being of the working class. The new taxes on essential goods and services disproportionately affect lower-income households, increasing the cost of living and reducing disposable income. Many Kenyans are worried about how they will afford basic necessities such as food, healthcare, and education. Workers across various sectors, from agriculture to trade, have voiced their concerns about the negative impact of these taxes on their livelihoods. Small business owners fear that higher taxes on imports and goods will hurt their businesses, leading to potential closures and job losses.

The protests will continue. The night of the 25th ended with a tense climate of repression, persecution and uncertainty. Several members of our organization have been injured and our leaders have received cowardly threats. Nonetheless, just as the brave people of Kenya are doing, taking to the streets after enduring the oppression and exploitation of imperialist capitalism and its local agents over long years, we will stand firmly by their side until throwing out this law, the Ruto government and this entire cruel system.

Courtesy International Socialist League