Court deals yet another blow to Ruto’s Affordable Housing Bill


Court deals yet another blow to Ruto’s Affordable Housing Bill

President William Ruto’s Affordable Housing Bill for 2023 faced another setback when the High Court halted the scheduled public participation, pending an inter-parties hearing.

Justice Jacqueline Kamau from the Vihiga High Court, on Wednesday, rejected the request to lift the orders and instructed the involved parties to present their arguments for the hearing scheduled on January 17, 2024.

The National Assembly had initially set a deadline of Thursday, December 28, 2023, to receive memoranda on the Bill.

On November 28, Justices David Majanja, Christine Meoli, and Lawrence Mugambi declared the Housing Levy unconstitutional and deemed its continued implementation a violation of the constitution.


Nevertheless, the court granted permission for the government to keep collecting the levy until January 10, pending further mention of the case.

The High Court in Kisumu issued conservatory orders to halt the planned public participation on the Affordable Housing Bill for 2023 until further directions are provided.

Justice Kamau instructed the involved parties to submit their arguments by January 15 for an inter-parties hearing scheduled at the Kisumu High Court on January 17.

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Grassroots Trust, a lobby based in Kisumu, urgently approached the court with a certificate seeking to stop the process, arguing that the notice given was too brief, especially given the significance of the Bill.

The petitioner contended that the National Assembly should conduct thorough public participation, particularly targeting marginalized groups who may not be familiar with the content of the Bill.

Represented by lawyer Paul Ogendi, the lobby identified the Attorney-General as the 1st respondent, the Cabinet secretary for Lands, Public Works, Housing, and Urban Development as the 2nd respondent, and the National Assembly as the 3rd respondent.

Lawyer Lawson Ondieki, representing the Attorney-General, and Kiragu Kimani, representing the Lands CS, requested the court to lift the orders, allowing the continuation of public participation.

Mr. Ondieki argued that halting public participation denied Kenyans the opportunity to express their views on the Bill. However, Dr. Ogendi opposed the request, contending that the National Assembly failed to provide sufficient time for and ensure effective public participation.

On December 7, the government, represented by National Assembly Leader of Majority Kimani Ichung’wah, introduced a revised Affordable Housing Bill to rectify the issues highlighted by the High Court.

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The Bill, having undergone the First Reading, aims to establish a board to manage the fund and retains the 1.5 per cent deductions from employees’ salaries and an additional 1.5 per cent from employers.

Simultaneously, Jua Kali workers expressed concerns about potential job losses following the High Court’s declaration that the implementation of the Housing Levy was unconstitutional.

As per the chairperson of the Jua Kali Contractors Federation of Kenya, Peter Muema, the workers presently engaged in affordable housing construction projects nationwide will face unemployment if the courts decide to lift the stay orders on January 10, 2024.

“We respect the court but our question is where will all these workers go if the court suspends the housing fund levy? All these people will go hungry and go back to crime. As construction workers, we want the houses and we want our children to go to school. We want to get out of the slums and move into decent housing,” Mr Muema said.

“We have plumbers and suppliers who are already on the projects across the country. The sites have been identified in different counties and as construction workers we are ready to work,” he added.

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The construction workers expressed their sentiments after conducting a series of demonstrations in Nairobi to show their support for the levy. During the protests, the workers urged petitioners, including Busia Senator Okiya Omtatah, to withdraw the petition challenging the implementation of the levy.

In its decision, the High Court determined that the levy is discriminatory since it specifically focuses on Kenyans in formal employment, excluding the approximately 15.9 million individuals in the informal sector.

President William Ruto has been an outspoken proponent of the Housing levy, criticizing those who have taken legal action to halt the fund’s implementation.

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Court deals yet another blow to Ruto’s Affordable Housing Bill



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