5 Controversial Policies Proposed by Govt That Made Headlines in 2023


President William Ruto’s administration has attracted criticism from Kenyans for proposing or bulldozing a set of unpopular policies.

For instance, MPs allied to the ruling party have sponsored some contentious bills which have not been well received by Kenyans across the board despite their political affiliations.

Every other fortnight, Kenyans have been waking up to the news of the introduction of a new unpopular policy which gave credence to the argument that the government was operating at an antithesis of what it promised on the campaign trail.

Kenyans.co.ke takes a look at the proposals that angered Kenyans over the course of the year. 

Homeowners

National Assembly Majority Leader Kimani Ichung’wah sponsored a bill seeking to amend the Land Laws (Amendment) Bill 2023 relating to grants, and compulsory land acquisition. 

National Assembly Majority Leader Kimani Ichung’wah addresses a crowd during an event in Kirinyaga County on March 18, 2023.

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Kimani Ichung’wah

In the bill, owners of freehold property next to urban areas would be required to pay an annual land levy equal to the amount residents of towns pay. 

This means that homeowners in areas such as Syokimau, Kiambu, Thika, Mlolongo would be required to pay an annual land levy same as the rate charged to Nairobi residents. 

The proposal sparked outrage from Kenyans who noted that the policy would place an additional burden on Kenyans who were already grappling with the high cost of living. 

Proposal to Reintroduce CAS Positions

Still, Kikuyu MP Kimani Ichung’wah, a close ally of President William Ruto was also criticised by Kenyans after introducing a bill seeking to legally entrench the Chief Administrative Secretaries (CAS) positions through an Act of Parliament after the court declared the posts unconstitutional.

While delivering its ruling the court cited a lack of public participation as the government moved to create the positions. 

President Ruto had appointed over 50 CASs, which meant that Kenyans would cough up more than 500 million annually to sustain persons appointed to the positions in office.

The government had proposed a salary of Ksh874,500 for each CAS.

The news attracted the ire of Kenyans who pointed to an already bloated wage bill as reason enough why the government should abandon the plans. 

Digital strategist Dennis Itumbi and Attorney General Justin Muturi also filed an application seeking to suspend the High Court’s orders.

The Court of Appeal, however, declined to reverse the decision and upheld the lower court’s decision. 

Rearing of Animals at Home

Similarly, the government was put under the microscope once again after news leaked that a bill proposed by the government seeking to stop Kenyans rearing farm animals without the proper documents surfaced.

The bill proposed a Ksh500,000 or a six-months jail-term fine for this category of persons. 

The piece of legislation also sought to provide training, registration and licensing of animal specialists and firms. 

 Further, as proposed by the bill, Kenyans seeking to acquire the licence would have to apply at the Animal Production Professionals Board and wait for approval within a stipulated period after paying the set fee. 

The government proposed that each licence would be valid for a year but the Board may suspend the licence during the period for various reasons including providing false information in the application process. 

Social Health Insurance Fund

The Social Health Insurance Fund which seeks to break up the National Hospital Insurance Fund (NHIF) and set up three separate entities also became the talk of the town after President William Ruto assented to a piece of legislation establishing the fund.

The Fund, according to the president, will allow Kenyans to access healthcare in an affordable, efficient and non-discriminatory manner. 

However, what put the proposed fund at the centre of controversy was the declaration that contribution to the fund will be mandatory. 

Another aspect that attracted the ire of Kenyans was the pronouncement that Kenyans will be required to show proof of registration with SHF before accessing key government services. 

It was also established that Kenyans will be required to part with 2.75 per cent of their salary while unemployed Kenyans would pay Ksh300 monthly. 

Failure by employers to remit the deductions within the stipulated timeframe will face a  fine of Ksh1 million  or a 3-year jail term. 

Individuals who make false statements for the purpose of obtaining any benefit will also be fined Ksh1 million.

The fund is however yet to be formally established after the High Court suspended its implementation until a case challenging its legality is heard. 

President William Ruto (right) holds the umbrella for Health CS Susan Nakhumicha while making their way to Syokimau, Machakos County on November 22, 2023.

PCS

Selling Nuts Without Permit

The government also came under scathing criticism after it was revealed that the State was lining up a bill that would require traders selling groundnuts, coconuts and macadamia to acquire a permit.

The Nuts and Oil Crops Development Bill 2023 proposed a Ksh1 million fine for persons who failed to adhere to the provisions of the proposed piece of legislation.

As you would expect, the bill elicited debate from Kenyans online who questioned why the government was targeting hawkers and small-income earners who struggle to make ends meet.





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