Ruto now calls leaderless Gen Z to join 100-member team to address issues


Youths protest against the Finance Bill in Kutus town, Kirinyaga County on June 25, 2024.

Photo credit: George Munene | Nation Media Group

The government has proposed forming a working group to address the concerns raised by the youth, following the spirited fight by the youth that saw President William Ruto give in to their demand of having the Finance Bill 2024 dropped.

In the wake of piling pressure from the youth, President William Ruto has proposed the formation of a 100-member National Multi-Sectoral Forum (NMSF) to engage with all stakeholders in ironing out the concerns.

The National Multi-Sectoral Forum (NMSF), the president said, will draw membership from all national-level umbrella organisations representing the youth.

The head of state requested civil society, religious organisations, professional bodies, business community organizations, academia, student leadership, Majority and Minority leaders of parliament, the Council of Governors, and other stakeholder groups are requested to “nominate representatives to constitute the National Steering Committee (NSC) of the NMSF”.

Each umbrella body, a communiqué from the Head of Public Service Felix Koskei, should nominate two representatives of either gender for consideration for appointment to the National Steering Committee (NSC).


The nominations, Mr Koskei said, should be addressed to the Executive Office of the President, Harambee House and should be received on or before July 7, 2024.

The national steering committee comprising 100 persons, the government said, shall be the apex organ of the NMSF, charged with providing the framework, modalities, agenda, and timelines for a nationwide dialogue on matters raised by the youth.

The propositions come in the backdrop of the demands by disillusioned youth who insist they are party-less, leaderless and tribeless.

While it remains to be seen how the propositions will pan out, the state said, some of the matters the body will discuss include but are not limited to jobs and other opportunities, the nation's tax policy, national debt burden, representation and accountability, and anti-corruption measures among others.

“Upon establishment of the National Steering Committee of the NMSF, the President will facilitate the first sitting of the NSC for the sole purpose of the committee independently identifying the leadership of the forum,” Mr Koskei said. “Subsequently, the forum will carry out its activities independently across all the 47 counties through a participatory, citizen-centric and inclusive process from the ward level.”

Political leaders

While the NSC will provide a framework and mechanism for engaging with political leaders in a bipartisan manner, “in keeping with our national values and principles of governance on public participation, every Kenyan and all stakeholders will have an opportunity to present their proposals on the agenda items in person, remotely, individually or as groups,” the Head of Public Service assured.

However, for President Ruto, the bid to engage the leaderless, restless, opinionated youth keen to have their voices heard individually, is a big headache.

Unlike other groups such the religious leaders, the private sector and other professional outfits that have leadership structure, the young people who mounted the anti-Finance Bill 2024 protests have no known leaders, they have no structure but speak in one coordinated voice.

Their greatest asset is the online platform where they plan, organise and execute their tasks. On Thursday, they gathered on Twitter space and dismissed the president on his calls for engagement with them.

“Which engagement is he talking about? We are not interested. Let him be reminded that we are fearless,” one of the speakers said.

National Cohesion and Integration Commission commissioner Danvas Makori advises President Ruto to join the youth in their space: Twitter, now called X, where most of the mobilisation has happened, including seven-hour-long conversations and fundraisings.

Traditional meeting

 “The President should get to where they are, tell them I’m here and listening to your issues. After that can agree on smaller working groups to be given specific issues to tackle and given a time frame of like two weeks and report back to the larger group,” Dr Makori said.

“These people meet online, they mobilise online, their world exists online and it's working for them, so there should be a shift in the mindset away from the traditional meeting that we are used to. The president must just meet them on their own terms,” Dr Makori added.

Unlike other groups, Mr Makori said the young people are well organised, they know the issues affecting the country and are very intelligent making them an easier group to engage with to get solutions.

He, however, warned that for the Presidents’ engagement with the young people to be successful, politicians should not be part of it because they feel they have largely contributed to the problems bedevilling the country.

However, Thirdway Alliance Party Ekuru Aukot termed the calls for talks by the President as a hoax saying the Head of State is fully aware of the issues fuelling the protests and he should just take action.

According to Aukot, before the talks can even begin, he said Interior Cabinet Secretary Kithure Kindiki and Inspector General of Police Japhet Koome should first take responsibility for the actions of police that unleashed terror on peaceful young demonstrators.

Extrajudicial killings

“Who in the Gen Zs does he want to talk with, those people are leaderless and we want it to remain like that because the moment they have leaders then they will be called by the powers that be and that is how the struggle will be abandoned,” Dr Aukot said. “People are talking about corruption in his government, over taxation, extrajudicial killings, wastages in government. Our government has become a puppet of the International Monetary Fund and World Bank,” he added.

The same observation has also been made by Executive Director of Kenya National Civil Society Centre Suba Churchill who pointed out that the young people no longer trust the president hence calling them for talks will not yield any fruit.

Mr Churchil questioned the difference between the talks the President is calling this time and the National Dialogue Committee meetings held at Bomas of Kenya where he said the recommendations have not been implemented.

“The problem we are having in this country is a trust deficit in the leadership, the President has been perceived to be a person who thrives on lies and therefore must do something to be trusted not only by the young people but by the whole country,” Mr Churchill said.