Kenya: Ruto retreats before the power of the masses

In an address delivered today, Kenya’s president, William Ruto, announced that he will not sign into law the Finance Bill, which was passed in parliament yesterday, in the face of an insurrectionary movement of the Kenyan masses.

Flanked by MPs, Ruto explained that the hated Bill will be returned to parliament, where the same people who yesterday passed it by 195 votes to 106 have apparently agreed to withdraw it altogether.

Less than 24 hours after he had described protestors as ‘criminals’, Ruto struck a much more conciliatory tone today, stating that: “listening to the Kenyan people who say they want nothing to do with this Bill, I concede.”

Ruto has proposed “an engagement with young people of our nation to listen to their issues and agree with them on their priority areas of concern”, instead of engaging them with live ammunition, as he had tried earlier.

Power of the masses

tear gas Image luhyaheat TwitterThe whole of the repressive apparatus of the state is insufficient to quell the masses / Image: luhyaheat, Twitter

This abrupt u-turn is an open acknowledgement of the power of the masses, who have come out all over the country, in defiance of police bullets, to leave the regime effectively hanging in mid-air. 

Having killed and abducted protestors (hundreds by some accounts), and threatened to call in the military to restore ‘order’, Ruto has suddenly turned to concessions and conciliation. This is for the simple reason that he cannot crush the movement by force, and continued attempts to do so would result in splits and mutinies from within the ranks of the army.

The significance of this fact cannot be overstated. The whole of the repressive apparatus of the state is insufficient to quell the masses when they are on their feet, and mobilised to take their destiny into their own hands. Therefore, they must remain on their feet!

Ruto must go!

Ruto’s  promises are nothing more than an attempt to buy time. He hopes that by sending the Bill back to parliament he can convince the Kenyan youth to go home, at which point he will turn to repression once again to strangle the movement for good. But this cynical manoeuvre has been seen through immediately by the masses.

It has often been the case in history that concessions have only encouraged revolutionary movements. Minutes after Ruto delivered his address, social media was filled with defiant posts from protestors, calling Ruto a liar who won’t even deliver on his promise to withdraw the Bill. This is absolutely correct: the masses must not disperse but remain vigilant and on guard.

And even if the Bill is withdrawn, this retreat is much too little, too late. Videos have continued to circulate, showing horrifying acts of police brutality against protestors.

Kenya’s Police Reforms Working Group (PRWG) has recorded 23 deaths caused by police shootings nationwide, as well as over 50 arrests, 22 abductions and over 300 injuries. The PRWG has also received reports “police shot several people in Githurai in Nairobi—one over 40 times—between 10 pm and 1 am, way after the protest ended.”

As one post on X put it: “We shall never forget and neither shall we forgive,” while another posted an image of a bleeding body, covered by the Kenyan flag, with the caption:

“Dear President William Ruto. It’s no longer about the Finance Bill.”

The hashtags #RutoMustGo and #RevolutionNoworNever are now trending alongside #RejectFinanceBill2024, and the slogan of ‘Occupy State House’ has also been raised. No doubt, Ruto will have a private jet on standby, just in case his ‘engagement’ with the youth doesn’t go to plan.

Establishment condemned

But the movement has not only targeted Ruto and his parliamentary cronies. The heads of the religious establishment have also been called out for their tacit support for Ruto, the Finance Bill, and the vicious repression carried out against protestors.

As one person put it on X:

“Ruto will be remembered in history as a tyrant and oppressor endorsed BY THE CHURCH.”

The religious establishment has a great deal of influence in Kenyan politics, and as the #RejectFinanceBill2024 movement was beginning to grow, the privilege and corruption of bishops and other church officials was explicitly raised, in contrast to the dire living standards faced by the majority.

In addition to the church, Kenya’s biggest internet provider, Safaricom, has also come under attack for cutting internet access as soon as police began opening fire on protestors outside the parliament building. According to Safaricom, this unfortunate outage was caused by “reduced bandwidth on some of the cables that carry internet traffic”. However, other providers, such as Airtel, were reported as working.

In the minds of many young Kenyans, the bonds between their political leaders, the church and big business are being laid bare for all to see. All have been enriching themselves on the backs of the Kenyan masses, and all have an interest in shooting ordinary Kenyans down if they dare to rise up against their oppression. Not just Ruto, but the entire corrupt establishment must be swept aside!


ruto must go Image the warm fruit TwitterNot just Ruto, but the entire corrupt establishment must be swept aside / Image: the warm fruit, Twitter

It must also be added that if the Finance Bill is really withdrawn, and if Ruto resigns as many are demanding, whilst this would be a victory for the movement it would not improve the conditions faced by the Kenyan masses in the least.

The country's enormous debt of $80 billion (roughly 75 percent of GDP) will continue to be owed to a host of foreign banks and imperialist institutions like the World Bank and the IMF. The government’s budget shortfall of an estimated 200 billion Kenyan shillings will also remain, and any government that continues to abide by the capitalist system will have to find a way to fill that hole, either by increasing taxes again later on, or by budget cuts and austerity.

Ruto actually indicated that this is on the agenda when he said, “we will live within our means”. What this means is one way the Kenyan masses will be made to pay for the crisis of Kenyan capitalism, in order to protect the profits of foreign banks, and the stolen wealth of Kenya’s ruling elite.

The only way out of this crisis of capitalism’s making is to install a revolutionary government that will repudiate the imperialist debt, expropriate big business and foreign capital, and plan production democratically for the benefit of all Kenyans. None of the ‘MPigs’ or parties in parliament have any intention of fulfilling this need, least of all Raila Odinga and his Azimio coalition, who are part of exactly the same corrupt ruling class as Ruto himself.

The way forward

WR Image fair useThe state has been forced to retreat temporarily / Image: fair use

The state has been forced to retreat temporarily. Now is the time for the revolutionary movement to advance!

The call for a ‘1 million people march’ for tomorrow (Thursday 27 June) is absolutely correct. Organisers have called on all of those living around Nairobi to block all roads leading to the city. Considering the scale of the mobilisations over the last week, tomorrow’s march could bring the entire country to a standstill.

The events of recent days have shown that the masses have the power to topple this government and sweep away the whole rotten edifice of Kenyan capitalism, if they are mobilised to do so. The workers, the youth and the impoverished masses of Kenya should have the support of every communist the world over.

Down with Ruto!

Down with capitalism!

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