Azimio la Umoja leader Raila Odinga.
National News, Politics

Raila Odinga advises President Ruto to focus on finding tax evaders within the government.

Azimio la Umoja One Kenya coalition party leader Raila Odinga has criticized President Ruto’s effort to tackle tax evasion.

The President claims that the tax evasion issue is not politically motivated and has pointed fingers at influential figures from previous governments who he believes have not paid taxes.

However, the president’s actions are seen by some as a form of retribution against his predeccessor Uhuru Kenyatta, who along with the late President Daniel Moi, are exempted from paying taxes under the Estate Duty Act.

Odinga suggests that Ruto should first address tax evaders and criminals within the government before focusing on others.

“Tax cheats and all sorts of criminals are with Ruto in his government but he is pretending to be looking for criminals outside his government,” Raila told supporters at the Kamukunji Grounds in Nairobi.

During a speech titled “The Kibera Declaration,” Odinga accused the president of inconsistency in his efforts to combat tax evasion and corruption.

He referred to recent dropped multi-billion corruption charges against allies of the President and the return of Ksh. 202 million to DP Rigathi Gachagua after it was initially forfeited by the state.

The Asset Recovery Agency stated that new evidence showed the money was not from illegal activities and the Deputy President had satisfactorily explained the source and legality of the funds.

“We have a situation where if a poor man steals, he goes to jail but if a rich man steals, he becomes a minister or a CEO,” said Odinga.

“The law exempting presidents from tax was passed by Parliament in 1982, but it appears Ruto and Gachagua do not know that,” he added.

Odinga advised the President and his deputy to allow the Kenya Revenue Authority to handle tax matters and stop speaking negatively about former First Lady Mama Ngina Kenyatta, who he considers a dignified figure.

According to Odinga, Ruto’s administration, which campaigned on the promise of supporting hustlers, the ordinary Kenyans, has instead become a government for billionaires that excludes the poor. He characterized Ruto’s tax collection efforts as taking from the poor to benefit the rich friends.

At the same time, Odinga reiterated his belief that Ruto’s August 2022 election victory was not legitimate and called on supporters to resist the Kenya Kwanza government.

“We still maintain that Ruto got into State House by hijacking and subverting the will of the people. He must get out!” he said.

Odinga accused Ruto of governing with disdain for both the Kenyan people and its institutions, as if “overriding the people’s will” wasn’t already a significant issue.

He stated that his nationwide rallies to mobilize opposition against Ruto’s government will continue next week, with the Azimio coalition visiting Machakos on Friday and Busia on Sunday.

Meanwhile, former First Lady Mama Ngina Kenyatta spoke out against the tax evasion allegations aimed at her family, calling them a politicization of tax issues.

Mama Ngina stated that tax matters can be addressed through government channels and the court system, if necessary, and that public rallies have no relevance in tax issues.

She challenged the government to seize her property and belongings if she was truly failing to pay her taxes.

NCBA Bank, in which the Kenyatta family holds a 53% stake, acknowledged receiving a Ksh. 350 million tax waiver during the merger between NIC Group PLC and Commercial Bank of Africa in 2019.

NCBA Managing Director John Gachora stated that if the court finds the bank guilty of violating any tax laws, they will pay without hesitation.

“NCBA is one of the biggest taxpayers. In 2021, we paid taxes of Ksh 6.7 billion, in 2022, we paid Ksh 14.3 billion in taxes. Ksh. 350 million in the context of what we pay in taxes is nothing,” Gachora said.