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Court, protests await MPs over tax row

NAIROBI, November 20 – The controversy surrounding a refusal by Members of Parliament to pay taxes on their allowances now appears headed for the courts.

A researcher at the All Africa Conference of Churches Peter Solomon Gichira said he would be moving to the High Court on Monday next week to compel the MPs to pay the taxes, saying their stand was ‘unethical.’

Mr Gichira has already instructed his lawyer to draft the necessary papers to enable him file the case.

He told capital News he wanted to move to court to ensure justice prevails.  "My interest in filing this case is premised on an ethical issue that has come up. While we are claiming that most Kenyans are poor, we have MPs who are exorbitantly paid but they are relegating on the promises they made to Kenyans because this is one of the platforms they used to get to parliament."

He insisted that it was unreasonable for small income earners to pay taxes whereas those attracting hefty pays go untouched.

"I am filing this case as an individual who pays taxes but I am targeting the MP as an individual and not parliament as an institution," he said.

He urged interested people to join him in his quest saying it’s a fight for all Kenyans but was unsure of his chances to sustain a case.

"My chances of succeeding seem quite dim because the judiciary is part of the constitutional offices I am targeting, but I have to make my voice heard," he said.

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And as he prepared his court action, the chairman of the Community-Based Organisations (CBO’s) Tom Aosa told Capital News he would mobilise countrywide protests to force MPs to pay the taxes.

"We will not allow MPs to take Kenyans for a ride. They must pay taxes and should stop being greedy. Every Kenyan is paying taxes and therefore there is no reason why they should not," he said.

He added: "I am going to mobilise other civil rights activists to join in pressing MPs to pay taxes. We will not allow this culture of impunity to continue."

On Wednesday, visiting British MP David Blunkett urged Kenyan parliamentarians to pay taxes terming it ‘a moral responsibility.’

The MP from Sheffield told reporters in Nairobi on Wednesday that it was unfair for local MPs to refuse to pay taxes, yet their constituents look up to them for leadership.

"I have to experience the pain, the difficulties, challenges and joys of my own constituents in one of Britain’s most deprived communities and all I can say is that they would be very unforgiving in the next general election if they found out that I wasn’t paying the taxes they are paying," Mr Blunkett said.


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