By: Abdikadir Ukash
NAIROBI—On April 23, Raila Odinga announced that anti-government protests will resume after the holy month of Ramadan despite an agreement on bipartisan talks with President William Ruto.
While attending a town hall meeting in Nairobi, Raila said a resumption date would be announced after Ramadan, which ended on Friday. Coming after more than three weeks mared by sporadic incidences of violence, Raila’s announcement coldn’t come at a better time. It came at the backdrop of a seemingly failing terms of the talks, mostly led by the legislators from both sides.
Political demonstrations can disrupt economic activity, leading to a reduction in productivity and output. In Kenya, political demonstrations have the potential to negatively impact the economy, particularly in sectors such as tourism, agriculture, and manufacturing.
Speaking while in Mombasa during the first day of the mass demonstrations, the deputy President Rigathi Gachagua said that “one day of protests cost the country up to Sh2 billion in business losses” while Nairobi governor Johnson Sakaja said his administration’s daily revenue collection was cut to half on account of the unrest.
The private sector lobby groups placed the losses at Sh3 billion daily. But there are no official figures on the business and man-hour losses from the demonstrations yet.
“Shops have been closed due to the unrest resulting in lost incomes, which has a larger impact on the general economy. It has also led to a loss of manpower in terms of people who can’t reach their offices out of fear or out of transport challenges,” said Retail Traders Association of Kenya Chief Executive Officer Wambui Mbarire.
The protests also hit the Kenyan shilling, which has been on a steep devaluation trend in recent months.
The Nairobi and Kisumu county governments also felt the heat of the demonstrations. Nairobi collects an average of Sh5.3 million daily as parking fees, which forms 30 per cent of its annual own-source revenue, according to the Controller of Budget’s latest report (July-December 2022.)
On a daily average, Nairobi Governor Johnson Sakaja revealed, “the county collects between Sh70 million and Sh80 million,”
“The county lost about Sh40 million due to the Azimio protests that occurred, Sakaja said at the height of protests.
President William Ruto finally explains why he stopped calling Raila Odinga "Mtu wa Kitendawili" but "my dear brother." pic.twitter.com/LHjBrmQdvo
— Kulan Post (@kulanpost) April 18, 2023
The announcement to call off the protests has come as a shock to the many protesters that had planned to continue with the weekly demonstrations on Mondays and Thursdays.
It has also come as a relief to the many non-participants who found themselves embroiled in a contest that they had nothing to do with.
President Ruto said three people, including a police officer, lost their lives during the protests, while more than 400 people, including at least 60 security officers, sustained injuries.