Starehe MP Charles 'Jaguar' Kanyi on Thursday, March 19 via a Facebook post, demanded that China write off Kenya's debt over the Coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic which was first reported in Wuhan, China.
The lawmaker called for scheduled debt repayments by Kenya to be channelled towards the empowerment of small traders and low-income earners.
In addition, Kanyi brushed off advice to citizens to stay home in a bid to control the spread of the pandemic, arguing that many could not afford to do so.
"Coronavirus originated in China. They have to write off Kenya's Ksh 650 billion debt.
"We can channel repayments to small traders and informal settlements like Mukuru. We cannot convince people who live from hand to mouth to stay at home unless we provide for them," he argued.
His comments sparked mixed reactions with a section of Kenyans bashing him on social media while others agreed with him.
"The reasoning from those we call our leaders is more life-threatening than Corona...How viable do you think your proposal is Jaguar?" one Edwin Omambia posed.
"Well said...Don't allow the markets to be shut down including Muthurwa and others. We will die not from Corona but from hunger," wrote Pauline Waithira as she concurred with the MP.
Debt owed to China by Kenya hit Ksh 650 billion in August 2019 after the country took up additional loans to fund the Standard Gauge Railway (SGR) project.
Included in the loans was Ksh 44.7 billion for the second phase of the SGR from Nairobi to Naivasha as well as a Ksh 35.2 billion instalment paid for the first phase from Mombasa to Nairobi.
Jaguar has previously found himself in trouble over his comments on foreigners working in informal markets in his constituency, particularly the Gikomba market.
On June 26, 2019, he was arrested in Nairobi and charged with incitement to violence over utterances that were deemed xenophobic towards foreigners operating businesses in the city.
“We’re not talking about six Chinese nationals. We’re talking of hundreds of foreigners who work here."
"I give the government 24 hours to evict these foreigners or as the MP of this area, I will mobilise people and go into their shops, beat them up and send them all the way to the airport,” Jaguar had stated in a viral video, triggering his arrest.
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