At his second swearing-in following a controversial re-election, President Uhuru Kenyatta looked at something that would prove to his supporters and critics that he meant business in his final term – after a first one riddled with scandals and fighting from the opposition.
The Big Four agenda was born and in it, there was the affordable housing aspect.
Huduma Namba followed later (though not a pact in the Big Four agenda); with the government marketing it as an easy way to access government services by consolidating the many identification and statutory membership cards into one.
But in a short time, the two issues have become the most controversial as their implementation has caused fears and left many unanswered questions. Both are being challenged in court.
While the High Court allowed the government to carry on with Huduma Namba registration, many restrictions were put on its way: Collection of DNA and the use of the Global Positioning System as identifiers were suspended pending hearing and determination of the petitions, government was barred from making registration for Huduma Namba mandatory, the court also stopped the government from setting registration deadlines.
The government was also barred from denying any unregistered person access to any government services as well as sharing/disseminating any personal information collected with any third parties.
The petition stopping the collection of 1.5 percent housing levy on all salaried Kenyans has also been stopped and the case by Federation of Kenya Employers, Law Society of Kenya (LSK) and Consumer Federation of Kenya will be coming up for hearing on June 25 before Justice James Makau.
The Ministry of Transport and Housing and Kenya Revenue Authority (KRA) caused panic when in April they published a notice in the media that the government would start collecting the 1.5 percent levy from May 9. However, the notice has been stopped by the High Court.
On Huduma Namba, while Kenyans have been registering, questions and doubts abound.
LSK President Allen Gichuhi says, the Statute Law (Miscellaneous Amendments) Act 2018 which legalised Huduma Namba, introduces amendments to the Registration of Persons Act, which infringes on the privacy rights of citizens through introduction of the National Integrated Identity Management System (Niims).
“Members of the public are advised that based on the court orders, registration for Huduma Namba is not mandatory. No one should be denied any government services for failing to register,” said Mr Gichuhi.
The LSK president’s statement followed May 13 statement by the Interior Cabinet Secretary Fred Matiang’i to the effect that while the government would not force people to register for Huduma Namba, those who would have not registered by the deadline, now extended to May 25, will have themselves to blame.
On the eve of the conclusion of the mass registration which was set for May 18, President Kenyatta extended the deadline.
Like Huduma Namba, the housing levy has become controversial as the government seeks to collect the funds from all salaried workers.