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Did Kenyan opposition leaders split over controversial finance law, as claimed online? No, Kalonzo Musyoka misquoted in graphic

IN SHORT: It's claimed that Wiper Party leader Musyoka said a controversial funding bill must be passed by the end of June 2023, signalling his support for it. His office has denied this.

“By Friday, June 30, the National Assembly must have passed the Bill to Law. This is because the country needs to have funds for the 2023/2024 financial year so that the government can carry out its functions,” reads a quote circulating on Facebook. 

It has been attributed to Kalonzo Musyoka, leader of the Wiper Party and a principal of Kenya’s main opposition coalition, Azimio la Umoja.

In May 2023, the Kenyan government released the draft Finance Bill, which quickly became controversial because of new taxes it included.

Despite opposition and court challenges president William Ruto finally signed the bill into law on 26 June 2023.

Several social media users shared the graphic, including  here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here and here. The claim was that Musyoka’s words meant he had broken with Raila Odinga, Kenya’s main opposition leader and the head of the Azimio coalition, on a key issue

Such a development would have ramifications in the country's political landscape. Musyoka's support was crucial in determining how close Odinga came to winning the Kenyan presidency in the 2022 general elections.

The graphic with the quote includes the logo of the news website, and a photo of Musyoka. It’s similar to the quote graphics the organisation regularly posts on social media.

But did Musyoka really say “the bill must be passed by 30 June” thereby signalling his support? We checked.


Musyoka misquoted 

“By 30th of June lazima pesa za kuendesha serikali ya jamhuri ya Kenya ziwe zimepatikana,” Musyoka says in Kiswahili in a video recording from an event on 4 June. 

This roughly translates as: “By 30th of June the money used to finance the government of Kenya will have to be secured.” Musyoka makes no mention of passing the bill by 30 June, as he is quoted as saying in the graphic.

His next remarks make this clear – he says that as much as the government needs money, the Finance Bill has a big impact on ordinary Kenyans, and so the bill should not be rushed.

Paloma Gatabaki, communications lead for Musyoka, tweeted the graphic with the word “fake” printed across it. “There's fact & then there is fiction,” reads Gatabaki’s post.

The tweet added that Musyoka’s opposition to the bill had been “very clear from the outset”.

Musyoka was misquoted in the circulating graphic.

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