By Micah Kigen
The current political stand-off over the hiking of taxes by the Jubilee government is a recipe for civil strife if not handled carefully by all concerned parties, especially those in strategic political positions.
Actually, this week’s acrimonious political fallout over the skyrocketing taxation of citizens which reached its peak with the chaotic legislation in the National Assembly on Thursday is a delicate and risky development that all Kenyans need to revisit and moderate appropriately for the political health of this country.
I am drawn more particularly to the blatant rebellion by Jubilee and Opposition legislators who threw caution to the wind and roughly defied the wise counsel of their rightful party leaders: President Uhuru Kenyatta and Deputy President William Ruto on one hand and the People’s President Raila Odinga and Wiper leader Kalonzo Musyoka on the other, respectively.
Neither the Jubilee top leadership nor the Opposition’s have pretended nor cheated the country that the new controversial taxes especially on petroleum products (fuel) are good for the common man and the economy. Instead they have variously regretted the stress the taxes will subject Kenyans to. But they pointed out that there are government fiscal obligations that have necessitated and forced the hiking of the taxes in the meantime as government frantically scouts around for solutions to ease the burden.
With everybody acknowledging that the government is experiencing a cash crunch and the country is riding a dangerous financial crisis, all Kenyans needed to come together to find the way out without worsening the situation by inciting toxic political passions as done by members of the National Assembly.
Sometimes painful sacrifices are necessary. This Tax increment is one such. It is not unique and it won’t last forever.
It is during such times of crisis that true leaders emerge to shepherd their societies to safety. This crisis calls for leadership not confrontations and political populism. It is highly regrettable our MPs opted for the ominous later option.
As put aptly by ODM Chairman Hon. John Mbadi, Kenya was faced with the similar predicament of a child drowning in water. The most logical first step is not to start wars and quarrels with those who let the child slip into the water nor beating the child for the mistake but to quickly rescue the child first then proceed to the other reactions and corrections.
Our parliamentary democracy is supposed to be the bedrock of our democracy and people centered national leadership. The same parliamentary democracy heavily depends on the functional ability of our parliamentary Political parties. Which is determined by the existence of healthy leadership structures in each and every of the parties.
Therefore, the rebellion witnessed this week and in parliament where MPs grew wild and threw their party leaders under the bus is the height of Political bad manners. Their actions threaten to render all Parliamentary parties non-functional which will in turn generate viral political confusion and instability that can easily rock the state itself. The collapse of the state has only one outcome:- FAILED STATE!
Even under the worst of circumstances, Kenyans have never wanted the country to disintegrate into a “FAILED STATE” status. Better a bad but functioning government and system than a banana Republic due to politically generated governance breakdown.
Kenyans should recall that all failed states have ended up into chaos, civil strife , wars and lastly drowned into harrowing humanitarian crises. Somalia our next door neighbor, Yemen, Syria and Sierra Leone (in the past) are clear examples.
Those condemning Opposition leaders Raila Odinga and Kalonzo Musyoka for supporting the Presidency’s position on this high taxation should step back and realize that the two leaders are nationalists who have stepped in to forestall obvious and looming governance disintegration that could hurt the country more. The higher taxes may be a short term measure as better longterm solutions are worked on.
Our MPs should recover from their madness quickly and support the leaders in navigating this delicate bend to return the country to normalcy. Even super powers like America, Britain, Japan and others have gone through such financial crises in the past. It is not unique to Kenya.
Nevertheless such crises should be avoided by the country at all costs. Culprits should be smoked out and dealt with. Going forward we should be vigilant to stop and punish government officials in strategic positions of financial and economic management not to be reckless and lead the country into such problems again.