Daniel Many Owiti, Nairobi

On the Tuesday of 25th June, 2024, Kenya witnessed a protest that has never been seen before. The protest, led by young people (Generation Z), was against a Finance bill of 2024/2025, which the young people were against due to what they termed as “budgeted corruption “, punitive taxes, lack of accountability on the side of the executive and the inability of the ruling class to fight corruption.

The protest, which was peaceful for the better part of the day, turned chaotic when some protesters (Gen-Z front runners termed them “hired goons”) destroyed property and burned vehicles. Police manning Parliament building retaliated by firing live bullets and killing several protesters.

At 9pm, the President Hon William Ruto made a press briefing, calling the Youths “Criminals” and the protest “Treasonous” vowing to deal with them with the powers bestowed upon him as the Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces. At the same time, his Defence Cabinet Secretary Hon. Aden Dwale ordered the Kenya Defence Forces (KDF) to support the Kenya police to restore peace & order.

The Law Society of Kenya (LSK) filed a petition at the High Court to challenge the Gazette notice by Defence Cabinet Secretary arguing that it is contrary to the Constitution and poses a huge threat of violation of the fundamental rights and freedoms of many Kenyans who may wish to exercise their right to peacefully protest within the confines of the Constitution and the law.

The protest was a cumulative effort by the Gen-Z to reject the contentious Bill. Prior to these events, the Gen-Z had labelled the president “Zakayo” in reference to the biblical Zacchaues who was a tax collector. 

The Youths chanted, “Shuka Zakayo” (Climb down Zacchaeus) in a bid to request the President to lower the taxes or do way with them altogether. In Luke 19: 1-10, we read that when Jesus entered Jerusalem, there was a chief tax collector called Zacchaues, who, due to his shortness, climbed a sycamore fig tree to see Jesus.  But Jesus, on reaching the place, told Zacchaues to climb down immediately as he had planned to stay in Zacchaues’ place that day.

But the events of June 25th 2024 gave the president a new name, Saul. We read in Acts 8:1-13 how Saul led a violent persecution of the young Christian church in Jerusalem.  He went from house to house, dragging men and women off to prison.  When believers were found guilty of what is considered “blasphemy” (read treason), Saul called for them to be stoned to death.

More or less the same with Kenyan young protesters who were killed, teargassed, maimed, arrested, kidnapped and dragged off to prison.

Unlike other past protests led by Opposition leader Hon Raila Odinga, the protests by Gen-Z had no leader, thus making it difficult for the executive to point a finger to a particular individual or to deploy anti-Opposition propaganda. In this regard, the President could be likened to King Herod the Great who was the king of Jews when Jesus was born.  In Mathew 2: 1-19 and in Luke 1:5, we read that Herod was a strange mix of a clever and efficient ruler and a cruel tyrant. A master who tried to Kill Baby Jesus, and when he could not find him, killed every infant in Bethlehem. 

But I digress. Let us now go back to the main issue of taxes. The Ruto regime was established on the alter of the Church.  And so to criticise it we must do it from that same alter. We learn from the Bible that disobedience brings judgement, but repentance brings deliverance.  We read in 2 Chronicles and also in 1 Kings 11: 1-2 that Solomon imposed a heavy tax yoke on the people of Israel. After his death, his son Rehoboam took over the reighn and imposed even heavier taxes. The elders advised him to reduce the taxes but he refused the advice of the elders.

His brother Jeroboam, whom the Bible describes as a “mighty man of valour” warned him (Rehoboam) not to make the same mistake his father had made by taxing them heavily to finance a luxurious lifestyle. Remember one of the reasons the Gen-Z are protesting is the blatant and arrogant display of opulence by the executive; expensive watches, expensive cars, purchasing Billion -worth Properties, renovations costing north of Ksh 600 million, Kshs 1 billion for office furniture, millions of church donations every weekend etc.

Rehoboam, being hard-headed (God had disserted him) refused to listen to his brother. In the end, only the tribe of Judah and tribe of Benjamin followed him. The remaining 10 tribes followed Jeroboam.  A clear indication that the voice of the people is the voice of God.

So what options does Saul (or Zakayo) have? Well, we still go back to the same Bible for answers.  options are laid bare; One, President William Ruto can repent and become Paul in the name of Jesus Christ our Lord though whom all things are possible. He can cry to the Lord, repent of his sins and stop persecuting Young Christian church in Jerusalem.

Two, as Zacchaues did, President William Ruto can give half of his (and all corrupt leaders’) possessions to the poor and if he has cheated anybody out of anything, he should pay back four times the amount.

Lord’s case, No appeal.

Daniel Many Owiti

CEO, Discava Properties, Nairobi.

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