Former Water Cabinet Secretary Sicily Kariuki has warned the government, urging it to listen to the concerns raised by Generation Z regarding the Finance Bill 2024.

Speaking to the media on Monday, June 24, 2024, Kariuki noted the importance of dialogue and warned of endless uprisings if the government fails to engage with the younger generation.

“These children just require to be heard because they feel left out for good reasons that I can relate to. I am on the ground and things are not looking good.

“The cost of living in Kenya has continued to go up but importantly the government has failed to engage in meaningful dialogue to explain to the ordinary Kenyans and these young people, Gen Zs and millennials, what’s happening and what are the contents of the Finance Bill and how they are to address the cost of living. Failing to which I don’t think they will stop to demonstrate,” Kariuki said.

Kariuki highlighted the increasing frustration among young Kenyans who feel excluded from important national conversations.

She stressed the right of every Kenyan to protest peacefully and called for the government to prioritize dialogue.

She pointed out that the government’s history of ignoring public dissatisfaction, exemplified by the controversial Housing Levy, led them to believe the contentious Finance Bill would also be accepted without challenge.

She observed that the government anticipated the smooth passage of the Finance Bill but is now encountering strong resistance from a generation that feels burdened by the escalating high cost of living.

“The Gen Zs are only wishing to be listened to. Peacefully demonstrating because it’s their right. It’s the right of every Kenyan to picket. Dialogue is a critical element of moving forward.

“The government has gotten over other things that citizens were not happy with and pushed down some of the laws and policies that Kenyans were not happy with in the past.

“I single out the Housing Levy and because that passed, they have assumed that even the Finance Bill was just going to sail through. But they have met their match,” she said.

Kariuki noted that Gen Zs are both intelligent and empowered, capable of effecting meaningful change through collective action.

“The older generation might be a bit slow and a bit rational, but the Gen Zs are not just intelligent, but too empowered. You can see the way they are organizing themselves effortlessly and it’s because the cost of living has affected everyone. How I wish the government would listen to them. The political class should be sensitive and listen to what the Gen Zs are saying. They are expressing what Kenyans are expressing,” Kariuki stated.

Kenyans from various regions mobilized on Thursday, June 20, 2024, to protest against the controversial Finance Bill 2024.

This marked the second day of protests within the week, aimed at urging Members of Parliament (MPs) to vote against the bill.

Demonstrations gathered strength in cities including Nairobi, Mombasa, Kisumu, Eldoret, Nakuru, and Nyeri, with participants demanding that the Kenya Kwanza government withdraw the bill entirely rather than make piecemeal amendments.

In Nairobi, residents began demonstrating as early as 6 am in the Central Business District and near Parliament, carrying placards with the hashtag #RejectFinanceBill2024.

The nationwide anti-Finance Bill protests are expected to kick off on Tuesday, June 25, 2024.

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