Seize moment to put nation back on track

The gloom and doom of the past two weeks in which more than 30 people have been killed, hundreds injured and property destroyed in anti-tax protests has been a depressing moment in a country that aspires for remarkable progress and development.

However, the ugly confrontations between police and youthful protesters could just provide a defining moment that should be seized for a turnaround. President William Ruto and his Kenya Kwanza administration should lead the way. In this, they will need support and encouragement from other leaders, including the clergy. But the new “leaderless, tribeless and partyless” group can no longer be ignored.

The young people — particularly the Generation Z — have so far borne the brunt of the struggle to get national leaders to listen to the people's cries against heavy taxation, unemployment and other problems afflicting youth. The Finance Bill was the trigger of the Gen Z demonstrations.

It is laudable that President Ruto has dropped the controversial Finance Bill, 2024, and is willing to engage in discussions with youth on the way forward.

The country needs an honest conversation on taxation, national debt, the Budget, corruption, the cost of living, and youth unemployment.

Public debt repayment is a big challenge. An independent task force will carry out a forensic audit.

Austerity measures are needed to release funds to pay for higher education, hire Junior Secondary School teachers and medical interns, retain the fertiliser subsidy and settle debts owed to farmers. Some 47 state corporations will be dissolved. The President has also suspended the unpopular decision to fill the positions of Chief Administrative Secretaries and will slash by 50 per cent the number of government advisers. Budgets for the First Lady and the spouses of the Deputy President and Prime Cabinet Secretary have been removed.

The savings should enable the government to provide key public services.