Tax Riots in Kenya


28th June 2024

Nairobi’s streets flow with working class outrage.

A simple search for “Kenya” or checking the #RejectFinanceBill2024 on social media will show you torched cars, rebels in the parliament building and police (as always) escalating and using lethal force to defend revenue, property and their employers the state.

But why is this happening?

Kenya has an ingrained tradition of social protest that stretches back to the Jomo Kenyatta presidency after independence; constant beatings and murders by security forces have been a catalyst for unrest in the country for decades which compounds the country’s frequent outbursts of racial and tribalism fueled violence, which often picks up around elections.

At least 200 people have been injured, there have been at least 100 arrests and one protester has been murdered by the police following demonstrations against president William Ruto’s tax increases, since the start of his term in 2022 he has introduced several additional taxes. This new tax bill is aimed at collecting over 1 billion pounds in revenue from the Kenyan public to fill a gap in the national budget Including a 16% tax on bread and an annual 2.5% tax on vehicles and a tax on sanitary towels, the protests began with an initial wave of success as many of these unpopular policies were scrapped after the first few days of unrest.

However the working class women, men and youth of Kenya have not shown any sign of stopping, following even more police violence which left at least 5 dead. Protestors stormed the parliament building, overpowered the security forces and started fires. President Ruto has brought out the Military to bring more bloodshed to the people.

What we can already is how targeted and organised the protests have already been, people have destroyed businesses that are owned by politicians and the networks of solidarity are being built, even in their infancy there is examples of suit wearing civil servants throwing bottles of water over a fence to protestors clashing with the police in the summer heat. Medical workers have also volunteered their time to render aid to the protestors as they inevitably face the side effects of tear gas and live ammunition.

At the same time as this, clips surface of the Kenyan troops sent on a punitive expedition to Haiti to ‘restore order’ as they sing and dance around on the tarmac, no doubt elated that they’re being asked to shoot foreigners rather than their countrymen for a change.

It’s important to remember that oppression of a people anywhere is always linked to oppression in other countries, it’s no coincidence that the bloodthirsty Kenyan armed forces and police have a training partnership with their “former” colonial masters the British.

Kenyans have reported that British troops in the country have sexually assaulted them and in some cases fathered children with them, these men have then abandoned them and returned home.

At the same time, the EU dumps millions of tonnes of waste plastics to Kenya, the Nairobi river is densely polluted with plastics. Thousands of Kenyans are forced to scrape together a living by sorting through eurotrash while European companies can brag about sending zero products to landfill.

These manifestations of neo-colonialism and cisheteropatriarchy are not being taken lying down, my hope is that this protest movement in Kenya blossoms into something bigger, there are already signs that this is a popular movement beyond the ‘lumpenproletariat’ underemployed as professionals of all types have shown up to support this struggle in the streets across the country against this IMF sponsored austerity bill. Will we see the neighbourhood councils that were present in the Algerian Berber uprisings of the 2000s? or the Resistance committees of the Sudanese anti-dictatorship struggle in 2021? We can only hope, it’s crucial that anarchists & all other anti-imperialists don’t let this become another footnote and that we show solidarity with the Kenyan workers bravely taking on the state.

Always and forever, fuck the police.■

Originally post at Muttoworks.

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