AfricaPress-Kenya: Over 150,000 enraged Kenyans have so far signed a petition through change.org in a bid to stop International Monetary Fund (IMF) from releasing its Sh257 billion loan to Kenya.
Led by one Jefferson Murrey, the concerned Kenyans opposed the President Uhuru Kenyatta administration’s huge appetite for heavy borrowing without proper accountability.
“This (petition) is in recognition of the fact that previous loans to the Kenya government have not been prudently utilised and have often resulted in mega corruption scandals. The scandals have not deterred the ruling regime from more appetite for more loans, especially from China. Right now, Kenyans are choking under the heavy burden of taxation, with the cost of basic commodities such as fuel skyrocketing, and nothing to show for the previous loans,” Murrey the organiser of the petition says.
According to the Daily Nation, between March and November 2020, Kenya borrowed Sh971 billion for the war against Covid-19 which translates to Sh121 billion borrowed each month in the eight-month period.
On Friday, IMF approved a further Sh257 billion for the same course which then brings the debt levels in the country under President Kenyatta to about Sh1.2 trillion in the year alone.
However, he government insists the debt ship can still be kept afloat and that there is nothing to worry about, but a vast section of Kenyans disagree.
Last year, a report by Auditor General Nancy Gathungu revealed how Sh2.3 billion was lost in procuring Covid-19 medical supplies at the Kenya Medical Supplies Authority (KEMSA).
The situation worsened after the President admitted that his government loses Sh2 billion to graft daily, without mentioning what steps had been taken to recover the funds and prosecute those behind the grand theft.
With no graft conviction made almost a year later, leaders have also taken the front seat to question and call for accountability when it comes to receiving and planning for the loans.
Treasury Cabinet Secretary Ukur Yatani has defended the excessive borrowing by the Jubilee administration on shrinking revenues in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic.
As soon as the pandemic hit in March last year, Kenya stepped on the borrowing pedal hard, reaching out to multilateral lenders to build its war chest in the fight against Covid-19.
The National Treasury says the first disbursement from the loan of Sh33.7 billion will happen immediately, while a second tranche of Sh44.2 billion will be released by June 30.
According to change.org, typically, after there are enough signatories, the resulting letter may be delivered to the subject of the petition, usually via e-mail.
The petitioner can deliver printed copies to the intended recipient but those targeted do not receive emails every time a person signs, but they are often alerted by email that there is a petition directed at them.
Beyond seeking change, petitions serve other important functions, such as mobilising supporters and reinforcing views and also the effectiveness of a petition depends on how many signatures are collected, who is signing and whether those being petitioned are in a position to make changes.
The IMF and Kenyan government are yet to respond to the petition.