Former First Lady Mama Ngina Kenyatta has dared the Kenya Revenue Authority to sell her property should the agency prove that she has not been paying taxes.
In a rare public outburst on Saturday, the former First Lady said: “Ukikosa kulipa ile unatakiwa kulipa, lazima vitu vyako vitachukuliwa na kuuzwa. Kwa hivyo hakuna haja...hakuna mambo ya kuwaharibia wengine majina ndio watu wasikike eti wanafanya kazi, wanaendesha nchi, hapana (If you fail to pay taxes, then your property is sold to pay off. So there is no need of mudslinging anybody so that you can be seen to be working),” Mrs Kenyatta, who is former President Uhuru Kenyatta's mother and widow of Kenya's first president, Jomo, was quoted by Citizen TV as saying.
She was speaking at Tewe in Mpeketoni, Lamu West on Saturday during an event to launch the Teresa Catholic Church which she helped to construct.
She accused a section of leaders of politicising the matter of her family’s tax payment, insisting that such individuals were doing so in order to be seen to be working.
“Mtu ashtakiwe alipe ile kitu anatakiwa kulipa. Na kama ni mimi, ata nikiwa na mwaka mmoja nimekosea bila kulipa, mali ichukuliwe ilipe ile tax. Kwa hivyo hakuna haja ya kufanya siasa hivi na vile...na watu wanajua hawasemi ukweli, wanataka tu kusema ndio wasikike eti wanataja majina. (Let those who have not paid taxes be prosecuted. If I have failed to pay taxes for one year, sell my property to offset the tax arrears, there is no need to politicise tax issues. ”
Mama Ngina insisted that the government has proper channels to deal with serious matters like the alleged non-payment of taxes to KRA and that peddling lies in public and political rallies was improper.
“There are so many utterances that there are people who aren’t paying tax. Whether big or small, people must pay taxes according to their ability. But still, the government has proper channels to address these complaints. Those not paying taxes should be taken to court,” she said.
The former First Lady advised Kenyans to remain united and work hard to achieve development rather than being divided by selfish individuals.
She also called on religious leaders to pray for Kenya to ensure it remains a united and peaceful country.
Her sentiments also come at a time when there has been renewed debate over the alleged non-payment of tax by the estates of the late former Presidents Mzee Jomo Kenyatta and Daniel arap Moi.
A section of Kenya Kwanza legislators had earlier asked the national government to look into tax waivers enjoyed by the Kenyatta family during former President Uhuru Kenyatta’s reign.
The senators also want county governments to institute a similar audit on land rates paid by members of the first family on all land they own across the country.
Speaking last week, Senators John Methu (Nyandarua), James Murango (Kirinyaga), Wahome Wamatinga (Nyeri) and Tabitha Mutinda (Nominated) echoed President William Ruto's call that everyone must pay taxes regardless of their status.
“Everyone must pay taxes. Paying taxes is a national duty and anybody who incites the public not to pay is not a nationalist or patriotic,” said Mr Methu, adding that the Kenya Revenue Authority must conduct an audit on tax waivers enjoyed by the first family in the last 10 years.
The Senators cited the Sh350 million tax waiver enjoyed by NCBA and NIC banks. Former Treasury Secretary Henry Rotich had in 2019 exempted the transfer of CBA shares into NIC Bank from paying stamp duty of one per cent of worth of the unquoted stocks being transferred.
The Kenyattas hold a stake in CBA while the Philip Ndegwa family, which founded NIC Bank, has an interest in the listed lender.
President Ruto has also waded into the debate insisting that Azimio la Umoja leader Raila Odinga's recent rallies were triggered by his crackdown on tax evasion.
"We cannot continue to operate in a space where those in power exempt themselves from paying taxes. Their day is up. Every citizen must pay tax. Even if they sponsor demos so they don't pay tax, they will pay," he said.
"I am not talking about additional taxes; I am talking about taxes that have been signed into law."
Several days ago, Nandi Senator Samson Cherargei sought to have section 7(3) of the Estate Duty Act amended.
In a letter dated February 1, 2023, addressed to the Clerk of the Senate, Senator Cherargei is proposing to have Section 7 sub-section (3) of the Estate Duty Act which exempts the two former First Families from paying taxes be deleted.
"The constitution under Article 210 on the imposition of taxation indicates that no person or entity shall be exempted from payment of tax. The constitution provides a prescriptive exemption of taxes not to include state officers as was purported in the Estate Duty Act section 7 (3) that exempted the estates of former presidents Kenyatta and Moi," Cherargei states in the letter.
He adds: "This is illegal relic and unconstitutional since the said individuals were state officers by the virtue of the offices they hold as the presidents of the Republic of Kenya."