Death threats irk Kenya’s Gen Z movement


Kenyan President William Ruto engages protesting youths on Space X

from MARIA MACHARIA in Nairobi, Kenya
Kenya Bureau
NAIROBI, (CAJ News) – BY engaging youths in an unprecedented live chat on social media platform, X Space, Kenyan President William Ruto smoked the peace pipe with the aggrieved youngsters.

The online engagement extinguished calls for him to resign.

However, a controversial slur attributed to an opposition legislator has thrown a spanner in the works.

This is the latest twist in a crisis that has raged for weeks between the government of Ruto and the so-called Gen Z movement, comprising youth in Kenya, over the controversial Finance Bill 2024.

Farah Maalim, a legislator of the centre-left Wiper Democratic Movement (WDM), has been quoted as saying if he was the president of the country, he would have “slaughtered” 5 000 Gen Zs daily.

“God forbid, if I was president I would have slaughtered 5 000 of them daily. Seriously, there is no two ways about it,” Maalim is quoted as saying.

Such sentiments coincided with anti-government protests led by youth over the Finance Bill they said added to the tax burden afflicting Kenyans.

Last week, Ruto held a session on Space X with the youth, where the under-pressure president and his government seemed to have buried the hatchet with the youth following countrywide demonstrations that left around 40 people dead in recent weeks.

“I was honoured to engage young people on X Space, and to discuss the affairs of our country,” Ruto said.

In power since 2022, the president said he valued the youths’ knowledge, ideas and suggestions on how to transform the beleaguered east African country.

“I am also committed to addressing the issues they raised and the concerns they have to ensure we forge a new, inclusive and sustainable path for all Kenyans,” Ruto assured.

However, the sentiments attributed to Farah Maalim, the Dadaab MP (member of parliament), have enraged the youth.

The MP described the protests as “an attempted coup” after Parliament was breached and the State House threatened.

Maalim has disowned the video in the wake of the outcry in Kenya, the East African country that currently is unstable.

“I have watched this video 18 times. I can’t believe it,” said Mohamed Ali Nur, the former Somalia ambassador to neighbouring Kenya.

He is an ex-candidate in the Somali presidential elections.

John Njenga Karugia, a professor, called for authorities to perform digital tests on the video attributed to Maalim, which the latter claimed was edited.

There is also some ethnic element to the infuriation, considering the WDM legislator is of Somali origin.

Calls have heightened for Maalim’s arrest.

In what is a fluid situation, following the tensions, some youths have abandoned dialogue with the government and derided ex-Prime Minister, Raila Odinga, who has called for dialogue.

“Neither Ruto nor Odinga speaks for us nor will we not be a part of the dialogue,” stated youth activist, Prince Oginga, from the University of Nairobi.

Some youths have also written to the African Union *AU) decampaigning Odinga for the position of the continental bloc’s chairmanship.

Odinga has also fallen out with his running mate in the 2022 presidential election, Martha Karua, the latter being against negotiations with the ruling alliance.

Crisis 24, the security think-tank, predicts protest activity, heightened security and sporadic clashes, forecasting these would likely to continue into late July.

Kenya is in a bad space lately.

It recently lost its lustre as East Africa’s largest economy, a position now occupied by northern neighbour Ethiopia.

Kenya, a usually peaceful nation also known as Africa’s Safari Destination, has slipped to seventh in the continent.

It also endured attacks by the Islamist Al-Shabaab domiciled in its eastern neighbour, Somalia.

– CAJ News

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