cracking the whip

Kenya: ODM to discipline 28 MPs for defying tax hike proposal

By Victor Abuso

Posted on June 20, 2023 13:08

 © File photo of Kenya’s opposition leader Raila Odinga, of the Azimio La Umoja (Declaration of Unity) One Kenya Alliance  (REUTERS/Monicah Mwangi )
File photo of Kenya’s opposition leader Raila Odinga, of the Azimio La Umoja (Declaration of Unity) One Kenya Alliance (REUTERS/Monicah Mwangi )

Raila Odinga’s Orange Democratic Movement Party (ODM) says it has commenced disciplinary action against its 28 lawmakers who last week defied the party’s position and marked yes or abstained from the Finance Bill 2023 vote in parliament that proposes a tax increase.

Senator Edwin Sifuna, the Party’s Secretary General, has released a list of the MPs whose conduct he describes as rebellious to the party’s stance and goes against the wish of party members who wanted their representatives to vote no.

“The legislators have 48 hours to respond to why disciplinary action should not be taken against them,” Sifuna said.

“Ordinary Kenyans are suffering; these proposals will impoverish them more. We must reject them,” he added. The bill proposes a monthly 1.5% housing levy, and increased Value Added Tax on petroleum products from 8% to 16% among others.

Before the vote, the opposition leadership summoned all its legislators to a meeting, with orders to oppose the proposals and vote no on the floor of the House.

“We are instructing you to shoot down those proposals,” Raila said, warning that, if passed, he will call for more street protests.

Defiant MPs

However, during the crucial vote on the controversial proposals, which are at the last stage this week before final passage, 176 MPs, including four from the opposition, voted in favour of the government, while 81 opposed.

Among the opposition MPs who sided with the government are those who met President William Ruto a few months ago and pleaded to work with him. They include Elisha Odhiambo and Caroli Omondi, while others like Felix Odiwuor and Mark Nyamita opted not to vote.

Nairobi Woman Representative Esther Passaris, a longtime confidant of Raila, surprisingly voted yes for the proposals, saying she wants the Ruto administration to deliver on its promises.

“I supported the proposals because the government needs money to work for the people,” Passaris said, insisting that she remains in ODM party and is loyal to its leadership.

Kevin Ochol, a Nairobi-based political analyst, says despite the threat from the ODM party leadership, nothing much will come from it because the party needs the lawmakers more.

“ODM is just reminding its MPs to stand with the people, despite being the minority party in Parliament,” he says.


The opposition MPs who supported the government’s proposals might have feared threats from Ruto and his deputy Rigathi Gachagua, says Ochol. Both the president and his deputy warned that MPs who oppose the government’s agenda will not get funds for development in their constituencies.

Ruto has come out to support the opposition MPs who defied their party position, insisting he needs the proposals passed to get funds to deliver on the promises he made to Kenyans.

“Ignore the threats and stand with the people that need jobs,” he said in Kakamega, Western region, during a church function.

Interestingly, ruling party MP Gathoni Wamuchomba has stood against her boss and dismissed the tax bill. 

“These proposals are punitive, oppressive and scandalous. I vote no. I stand with my people,” she said in Parliament as she was cheered on by opposition MPs. 

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