President William Ruto is wrong when he directs that every worker must contribute to the Housing Fund, saying, and I quote, “Every worker must contribute to hustlers mortgage.” Unless it is another lie or false hope to hustlers, to hoodwink them into believing that those already employed will build or buy their homes to live in, it is a practical impossibility and a dream to imagine that workers in Kenya will purchase or build homes for the hustlers. It is a fruitless exercise that has never been practiced elsewhere in the world.
Even in wealthy nations like the USA, Great Britain, or China, where millions of citizens do not have homes of their own, workers are not forced to buy or build homes for those who do not have any. This false hope will not help the jobless (hustlers) out of the streets of Kenya. Ruto’s concerns should be how to create jobs in which those he calls hustlers can be absorbed to enable them to have a long-term income of their own, which they can use to acquire homes and educate their children.
There have been cooperative societies for civil servants and teachers in Kenya for many years. The objectives of those cooperative societies have been to provide the workers with loans to improve their livelihoods. Once employed, the hustlers will benefit from cooperative societies the same way those in employment have helped.
As a former Civil Servant, I understand so well that most Civil Servants have been contributing to cooperative societies to which they apply for loans to buy land, build houses or homes on the land they buy, buy already built houses, and educate their children.
Almost 80% of the Civil Servants and teachers have homes acquired through loans from cooperative societies. Undoubtedly, most workers still pay for the loans they took to buy land, build homes, and buy houses they live in today, while others continue applying for loans to do the same.
Those with loans from cooperative societies to pay are not ready to be overloaded with the 3% deductions for hustler mortgages. They need an increment to their meager pay, which is not enough for their basic needs with Kenya’s high cost of living today.
Those in the private sector also have cooperative societies to which they contribute monthly. Those in the civil service, the teachers, and the private sector have all along been benefiting a lot from those cooperative societies from which most workers have done so well in building homes and educating their children. Unless 20% of the Kenya workforce is composed of newly employed workers, the rest, 80% of the Kenya workforce, do not need homes to live in because they already have.
Unless Ruto and his administration have planned to do away with the cooperative societies and replace them with a would-be department for housing responsible for the 3% tax (levy), which would be odd, there are no convincing reasons for the introduction of the forced 3% Mortgage for the hustlers, from workers earned salary, not only on the 80% workforce who have homes but also on the remaining 20% workforce who may not need the government intervention to own a home. The Unions are responsible for the workers in Kenya, and the cooperative societies in Kenya should be vigilant because a lot is desired in the new Ruto tax scheme.
All the new taxes imposed on Kenyans by the Ruto administration are prone to being looted quickly. The 52 % taxes on NHIF, NSSF, PAYE, and the new 3% on Mortgage will be easily accessible to the looters of public funds in Kenya. The possibility that the new taxes have been invented because it will be tough to make a follow-up of the money once looted cannot be ruled out.
It should be remembered that billions of Kenya shillings worth of civil servants’ properties and money accumulated in various bank accounts in Kenya over 22 consecutive years from 1959 to 1980 disappeared in thin air in 1980 after the then President Daniel Moi invalidated the then Union of the Kenya Civil servants, which was the custodian and the manager of the properties and all the money in the banks, through a dictatorial Presidential decree. Our efforts to follow the properties and the money in banks resulted in threats to our lives, and I was personally forced to flee Kenya to save my life on December 27, 1998.
Dr. Isaac Newton Kinity
Counselor and Human Rights Activist.
Former Secretary General
Kenya Civil Servants Union.