Kenya: A significant victory of the people that will be secured by not abandoning the streets

Statement of the Revolutionary Socialist League

The people of Kenya have achieved a very significant victory this Wednesday, June 26, that we should not overlook. In a televised message, President William Ruto “conceded” to the mobilized people, declared that he will not sign the 2024 Finance Law and that it will be withdrawn.

The victory is all the stronger because of how unambiguous it is. The 2024 Finance bill, designed by the government alongside the IMF and the World Bank, imposes brutal tax increases that affect workers and the impoverished majority to raise funds to pay the foreign debt.

Massive mobilizations grew stronger throughout last week across the country, culminating in a national shutdown with millions taking to the streets on Tuesday the 25th, as the parliament voted the bill into law.

The state unleashed brutal repression, even firing live rounds at protesters, killing at least 23 people, and abducting activists, journalists and social media influencers, at least 20 of whom are still disappeared.

But the people did not back down, they courageously confronted the repression, even storming into the parliament building, forcing the lawmakers who had just voted on the law to flee through underground tunnels.

The night after the protests, widespread shootings and were reported in Githurai, with reports up dozens or hundreds killed.  Despite the midia supression of the event, this fueled the people’s rage who began to demand the government to resign altogether.

That night, Ruto projected a hard line. He promised to intensify repression, calling the protests “treasonous” ordering the army to take to the streets to reinforce the police, cutting off internet service and threatening to close television channels.

But the following day, he had to acknowledge his defeat at the hands of the mobilized people, and he did so in exactly those terms and unambiguously.

“Having reflected on the continuing conversation regarding the content of the finance bill 2024, and listening keenly to the people of Kenya who have said loudly that they want nothing to do with this Finance Bill 2024, I concede, and therefore I will not sign the 2024 finance bill, and it will subsequently be withdrawn,” Ruto said in a television address.

The RSL deems it indispensable to recognize this victory, in order to acknowledge and not forget that mass struggle works, that when the people mobilize, we are an unstoppable force.

At the same time, we warn that we can only secure the effective withdrawal of the law if we do not abandon the streets. If Ruto does not sign the bill, but is not withdrawn, it will come into law 21 days after its parliamentary approval. We can offer Ruto’s words no trust. If the promises he makes today manage to demobilize us and buy him time, he will fall back from them.

On the other hand, if we maintain the mobilization, we can secure the fall of this hateful anti people law and channel the confidence we have gained toward fighting for more.

The RSL calls on all the people to continue the mobilizations until the effective withdrawal of the 2024 Finance Law, to continue the struggle against the Ruto government and its entire neoliberal imperialist imposed plan and for bringing to justice the material and political authors of the deadly repression.

We also call for organizing our struggle, to collectively discuss how to continue the fight for all our long denied rights and to build our own political organization, of all who live from our labor, opposed to the capitalists and local agents of the imperialists.

Nairobi, Kenya

26 June 2024Revolutionary Socialist League