Kenyans, including Raila Odinga’s son, have hit out at the opposition kingpin after he led National Super Alliance (Nasa) MPs in declaring support for President Kenyatta’s proposal to impose eight percent VAT on fuel.
Mr Odinga presided over a meeting of Nasa MPs at Orange House and whipped them into supporting the proposal, albeit with conditions.
And for this, he has angered some the million of Kenyans who are set to bear the brunt of the new taxes.
His son, Raila Junior, was among those Kenyans who took issue with the Nasa’s move.
“Unfortunately as a Kenyan citizen, I am unconvinced by the statement put out by NASA on the VAT on fuel. Noen of the conditions they’ve put up are measurable and even if they were they are nowhere near closing the deficit on the debt. I call for my MP Ken Okoth to reject (President Uhuru’s memorandum to parliament)” he tweeted.
Some Nasa supporters told the Nation that they read betrayal in Mr Odinga’s move, saying for long, he has been the defender of poor Kenyans.
They accused the ODM leader “hypocrisy” in his quest for social justice.
“I feel Raila Odinga and his Nasa brigade have betrayed us. How can they support a move that is meant to oppress us? Is this why we voted for them?” said Mr Bramuel Omondi, a resident of Migori.
He added: “Raila has always claimed that he fights for the common mwananchi. This is the platform on which he has been campaigning for the presidency in the last elections. This VAT issue has clearly brought him out as a hypocrite. As an ardent supporter of Raila, I am very disappointed.”
Some of the supporters blamed the move on the handshake between Mr Odinga and Mr Kenyatta.
“If the handshake was meant to make Nasa a government’s lapdog, then it is not helpful to us at all,” said Mr Hesbon Onyango, another Nasa supporter.
“We have known Raila as a man who stands with the people but of late he is not firm on issues that affect mwananchi. He simply supports the government even when it is not right”.
Scores of other Kenyans took to social media to question Mr Odinga’s 2013 Twitter post in which he opposed heavy taxation.
His post came moments after Parliament had passed the 16 percent VAT that Mr Kenyatta revised to eight percent.
“You cannot grow an economy on taxes,” Mr Odinga tweeted on May 27, 2013.
Asked by Mr Morris Ndegwa on how Kenya should raise development capital, Mr Odinga, in the Twitter thread, responded: “Encouraging and fostering private enterprise.”
And in September 2013, Mr Odinga, then the Cord leader, asked the government to review the tax.
“If the government wants to raise revenue, there are better and less painful ways of doing so without making taxation a burden,” he said.
Some Nasa supporters also took issue with the ODM leader’s recent assurance that Mr Kenyatta will listen to the plight of Kenyans.
“You should not panic at all. Very soon the President will scrap off the heavy levy on fuel products. He listens to public outcry,” Mr Odinga said during National Government Affirmative Action Funds Football tournament at Kenyatta Sports grounds in Kisumu.
It is this assurance that scores of Kenyans are citing in their scathing attacks.
“What did he mean when he told us that the president will not allow any increase in fuel taxes? Can we believe his struggle for reforms? ” posed Mr Solomon Ondieki, a Nasa supporter from Nyamira.
Abrasive lawyer Miguna Miguna, who was deported to Canada for presiding over Mr Odinga’s mock swearing-in following the disputed 2017 election, described Mr Odinga as a traitor.
“Mr Odinga is a betrayer. He told Kenyans that president Uhuru Kenyatta will reverse the 16% VAT on fuel and sign into law the Bill Parliament had passed.
But President Uhuru rejected the Bill. Mr Odinga, who has been reduced to a lapdog, still supports him,” Mr Miguna said in a tweet.
Mr Obano Ondigi posted: “It’s official, Raila Odinga has sold his soul. His political conscience is firmly controlled by President Kenyatta. He dances to any tune President Uhuru wants. So sad. His legacy is gone.”
Mr Felix Muriithi decried the dearth of opposition in the country.
“The official opposition of Kenya are Kenyans on Twitter. Raila Odinga and Nasa have betrayed Kenyans with handshake. Kenyans will suffer because of handshake was only beneficial to Raila Odinga not Kenyans.”
Isaac Owiti tweeted: “Raila had to support this VAT increase or he refunds the hand cheque.”