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Political Showdown: Controversial Finance Bill Vote Final Stage

In a high-stakes political battle, lawmakers in Kenya are bracing themselves for a difficult decision as the contentious Finance Bill enters its crucial voting stage.


Caught between intense lobbying efforts by President William Ruto, who is employing various tactics including threats and charm offensives to ensure the passage of the Bill, and growing public anger towards those perceived to support the proposed law, members of parliament find themselves in a catch-22 situation regarding which way to cast their votes.

President Ruto and his deputy, Rigathi Gachagua, have publicly warned MPs who reject the Bill to forget about development projects in their constituencies. Meanwhile, public discontent is mounting against legislators who show support for the Bill, with voters in certain areas issuing warnings of reprisals.

Finance Bill
File/Courtesy: Rigathi Gachagua

While some MPs claim to have already made up their minds on how they will vote, just as they did during the Second Reading stage, others, particularly those who initially opposed the bill, remain non-committal ahead of the crucial vote today.

The MPs’ dilemma comes as the Kenya Kwanza side and its Azimio La Umoja counterpart engage in last-minute lobbying efforts. Government MPs have received clear instructions to support the Bill, while opposition MPs have been directed to introduce obstacles at every stage of the voting process to pressure their colleagues from the Kenya Kwanza side. The opposition has adopted this strategy due to concerns over their low numerical strength in the house.

Bipartisan Ruto Raila
File/Courtesy: Raila Odinga (Left), and President William Ruto (Right)

Within Raila’s camp, the house leadership has been instructed to closely monitor their members during the voting exercise, following some MPs’ absence during the previous session. Disciplinary proceedings have been initiated against ODM rebel MPs who defied the party’s stance on the Bill.

An anonymous opposition MP confirmed that they would be closely monitoring their members and revealed a number of strategies they plan to employ during the vote. These strategies include introducing numerous amendments, causing divisions during debates to force individual voting on every clause of the Bill, and even walking out of the chamber if their demands are not met.

Read also: The Finance Bill 2023: A Closer Look at its Impact Beyond the Housing Fund Debate

Despite the threats, a section of rebel ODM MPs has already declared their support for the bill. Bondo MP Gideon Ochanda, who supported the Bill during the Second Reading, emphasized that he would vote according to his conscience and conviction. Rongo MP Paul Abuor also expressed support for the amendments proposed by the committee on Finance and Planning.

However, Nyamira county senator Okongo Omogeni, also from ODM, urged Kenyans to reject MPs who support the Bill in the next elections. He warned that the proposed Finance Bill, if passed and implemented, would exacerbate hunger and starvation, causing loss of life.

While opposition MPs remain divided on their stance towards the Bill, intense lobbying is underway within the Kenya Kwanza camp. The coalition’s top leadership has reached out to all MPs in an effort to secure their support during today’s session. President Ruto, during a closed-door meeting in Kakamega county, reportedly persuaded previously opposed or absent MPs to back the Bill. In a public address, he defended opposition MPs who supported the Bill, ridiculing their parties for threatening disciplinary action against them.

As the crucial vote approaches, the outcome remains uncertain. Lawmakers are under immense pressure from both sides, with significant political and public consequences hanging in the balance.

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