By Gilber O K
I like the way the usually lackluster, noncommittal and peace loving Kenyan middle-class is now up in arms after the govt hit them where it hurts the most – a 16% VAT on petrol.
Trust me, if this class were to be active in agitating for good governance, fair electoral processes, respect for human rights and justice, the government would listen because this is the real working class.
It comprises of the main cog that runs the system. If the middle class was to boycott work for one week, I bet all my upper teeth that the entire system will grind to a halt.
However, this class of Kenyans prefers a peaceful environment ( free of confrontations or riots and demos) that is conducive for business, work, and school for their children (who attend overpriced academies).
When the masses at the bottom of
the feeding chain take to the streets to demand for their rights and demand for better governance, the best the middle class can do is to make noise from their Twitter handles and Facebook pages. They’ve never tasted teargas in agitating for a better country for all.
When the situation in the streets deteriorates, this class of peace loving Kenyans are always the first ones to fill our media houses with messages of peace and long lectures on how riots are scaring “investors” away!
They prefer peace because they can actually do without some of the most essential govt services. They use their hard earned money (whether from salaries or business) to pay for services that the government should be offering through their taxes!
When govt gives the masses a shitty education system in public schools, they can afford to take their children to expensive private schools;
When government fails to provide security, their salaries and business income can afford guards at their gated communities;
When government fails to provide good healthcare in the deplorable public hospitals, their medical cards can afford them decent healthcare in private hospitals.
Then BOOM! the government hits them where it hurts most; it dips its sticky fingers right into their pockets by introducing a 16% VAT on petrol. Suddenly, the peace loving middle class fraternity is the loudest in protesting the government move! They suddenly realise that bad governance spares none.
Since most Kenyans in the middle class own personal cars that run on budget, I won’t be surprised if the number of personal cars on our roads reduces drastically, going forward.
The masses who use public transport won’t be spared either since matatu owners will obviously transfer this new burden, of higher prices at the pump, to the hapless passengers. Fares will definitely be hiked.
But still, those who own personal cars will feel the worst pinch at the pump. That’s obviously why they are the loudest in protesting this latest move.
The matatu industry crew has a name for the middle class private car owners. They call them the “My Car Fraternity.”
This is probably because these guys hardly talk for five minutes without throwing in the phrase “My Car” somewhere in the conversation.
The day the “My Car Fraternity” and the entire Kenyan middle class will stop being keyboard warriors and take to the streets to demand for the end of inherent corruption in govt, better governance structures, respect for human rights and justice for all; is the day Kenya and other African countries will begin facing the right direction.