Sunday, July 21, 2024

Kenya: Nyanza, Machakos Counties Waive Hospital Bills for Anti-Govt Protest Victims

Nairobi — Victims of the recent anti-government protests will not pay hospital bills in Nyanza and Machakos counties.

The Azimio coalition announced Friday that the bills had been waived because most of the victims are unable to pay.

This includes mortuary fees for people killed during the protests that lasted Wednesday, Thursday and Friday when Azimio coalition leader Raila Odinga rallied Kenyans to take to the streets to protest the high cost of living.

Azimio La Umoja Principal Kalonzo Musyoka said governors from Kisumu, Homa Bay, Siaya, Kisii and Machakos counties had agreed to waive the bills in solidarity with the victims.

“We really must thank the governors for waiving the hospital bills and continuing to support these victims. This is the way to go, we appreciate,” Musyoka said during the interdenominational prayers held for the victims in Nairobi on Friday.

Official figures show that 20 people were killed in the protests, most of them shot by police but the Opposition coalition has placed the figure at 50.

On Friday, Azimio coalition partners launched a fund to help the victims of the anti-government protests and announced they’re not yet done with demonstrations, particularly now that the Court of Appeal has lifted conservatory orders against the implementation of the Finance Act that spells new taxes.

Former President Uhuru Kenyatta and Opposition leader Raila Odinga each contributed Sh1 million to the kitty.

usyoka contributed Sh500,000, Eugene Wamalwa Sh200,000 while Azimio MPs jointly contributed Sh1.5 million. The money is earmarked for the funerals and hospital bills of the victims.

In a statement read by one of the principals, Musyoka, Azimio said it is unhappy with the Appeals Court’s decision lifting conservatory orders barring the implementation of the Finance Act 2023.

The coalition has been mobilizing Kenyans to the streets to demand the repealing of the Act which spells out higher taxes for various commodities, including fuel.

“We are told the court has lifted the orders suspending the implementation of the infamous finance act pending determination of the main suit. That means Kenyans are going to be more heavily taxed,” said Musyoka during a prayer service at his Foundation office attended by former president Kenyatta, Odinga among others.

The coalition says it will announce the way forward, vowing not to relent in the push to fight for Kenyans.

“On Sunday, we shall communicate to the nation with regards to our next cause of action with regards to anti-tax protests,” he added.

In lifting the conservatory order, Appellate Judges Mohamed Warsame, Kathurima M’inoti, and Hedwig Omondi observed that there will be irreversible economic consequences if the order is not lifted.

They ruled that the act cannot be suspended indefinitely given the effects it will have on taxation and government spending which is already crippled.

In their ruling, the judges, however, said all the parties shall abide by the final outcome of the appeal.

The order suspending the Finance Act was obtained by activist Okiya Omtatah who filed a case in the High Court, describing it as punitive on Kenyans since it seeks to raise taxes that will raise the cost of living.

The judges, however, allowed the appeal by Treasury Cabinet Secretary Njuguna Ndungu who said the suspension of the Act was affecting government operations.

Azimio has accused the government of unleashing police on innocent Kenyans when they were fighting for their rights by rejecting the Act.

Several people remain hospitalized while more than 300 were arrested and charged.