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Looming showdown as Azimio tables 8 demands to Ruto's government

Helping families put food in their tables, cost of education and wages are part of Azimio's demands

File image of National Assembly Minority Leader Opiyo Wandayi flanked by Azimio la Umoja One Kenya Alliance leaders Raila Odinga and Kalonzo Musyoka at a past press conference at the SKM Command Centre on November 29, 2022

Azimio la Umoja One Kenya coalition has outlined several demands that the coalition will push President William Ruto and his Kenya Kwanza administration to fulfill.

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Azimio maintained that its priority in 2023 will be pushing for sustainable and well-thought-out interventions to give Kenyans long-term and sustainable upward economic mobility.

A statement issued by National Assembly Minority Leader, Opiyo Wandayi on Saturday, December31, 2022 lists eight areas that will drive Azimio’s legislative agenda as the coalition seeks to hold President William Ruto’s administration accountable.

Helping families put food in their tables, cost of education, workers' welfare, and a modern and professional public service are top on the list.

Others on the list of priorities are Social protection, protection for farmers, electoral reforms, and a clear roadmap for economic mobility.

The priorities listed in the lengthy statement sets the stage for a possible showdown with President Ruto who has made his stand known on several issues such as the withdrawal of subsidies.

Full statement

Below are excerpts from the statement.

“Basic consumer items were subsidized under the previous administration. We have noticed that the Kenya Kwanza administration loathes subsidies. Whatever they choose to call it, the Ruto administration will have to cushion Kenyans against the ravages of a melting economy. We believe that families and firms struggling to pay their bills need help and we will demand help on their behalf,” he said.

“High school education was also substantially subsidized in the last regime. The Ruto regime has removed the subsidy but insists that fees remain the same. We are going to demand the full reinstatement of the subsidy.

“We are going to demand a review of the university students’ loan regime to ensure it is in tune with the prevailing economic circumstances. President Ruto talks a lot about growing up in poverty. We believe he is only where he is because this country paid for his education.

“Wage must walk in tandem with the prevailing economic environment. We want to ensure our collective bargaining laws are progressive and work as they’re supposed to and that trade unions are empowered to organize and secure a good deal for workers. Too many Kenyans are working too hard yet they are stuck in extreme poverty. It is time for this country to have a national public discussion aimed at reviewing the minimum wage. Azimio is willing to lead this debate in 2023.”

“We are also going to force a relook into the welfare of civil servants including house allowances, affordable housing scheme to benefit civil servants, a review of salary and salary disparities in the civil service, a review of the hardship allowance and general welfare of civil servants particularly those at the lowest levels such as chiefs and their assistants.

“The regime also withdrew the Linda Mama program that covered maternity cost for mothers who could not afford it. We object to this. We will be demanding not just the reinstatement of these programs but also their expansion,” he said.

“We will demand that Pesa ya Wazee reaches ALL persons over 70 years and that it is increased from the current Ksh.2,000 to Ksh.4,000 per month, paid on timely and predictable basis. We will also demand that similar assistance is extended to widows, majority being poor, neglected and vulnerable."

“The government will have to tell us how they intend to feed the country through imported produce while securing local producers at the same time. We are also going to demand sustainable policies for increasing the productivity of smallholder farmers,” he said.

“The Afro Barometer Survey further showed that 31% of Kenyans do not trust the IEBC at all and 23% trusted it only a little; only 19% trust the IEBC a lot. Overall, according to the Gallup Poll, the percentage of Kenyans who have confidence in the integrity of elections declined from 58% in 2015 to only 35% in 2021.

"This is the electoral body whose members President Ruto has presented to Kenyans as heroes. Reform is a must. And any attempt to unilaterally reconstitute the IEBC will be vigorously resisted by all patriotic forces.” Wandayi noted.

The plan is likely to put Azimio on a coalition path with President Ruto who made it clear in his new year message that his bold move to do away with subsidies is here to stay.

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