Opinion: Gen Zs have valid grievances that deserve our respect and support

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Many admired and supported the demonstrations until last Tuesday when things took a different turn, with criminals who disguised themselves as protesters tarnishing the good name of Gen Z.

Gen Z has inspired thousands of Kenyans to join the protests against the Finance Bill 2024 and poor governance. Many Kenyans have come forth to either make their voice heard by physically being on the streets or by sharing messages of goodwill.

Many admired and supported the demonstrations until last Tuesday when things took a different turn, with criminals who disguised themselves as protesters tarnishing the good name of Gen Z.

There have been reports that some people in government infiltrated the protest by sponsoring goons who ended up disrupting the demonstrations and turning them chaotic. The previous protests were peaceful but criminals are now taking advantage of the infiltration to cause mayhem and rob people.

In Mombasa, criminal gangs from Old Town and others in North Coast were attacking innocent residents in the name of the protests. They vandalised equipment in town centres both in Mombasa and Nairobi.

My call to Kenyans of goodwill who are supporting the peaceful demonstrators is to rise and defend our youngsters by condemning the criminals and their facilitators. We must call out these criminals who are tarnishing the good name of the peaceful protesters.

It is imperative that we, as Kenyans of goodwill and advocates for change, condemn these criminal acts unequivocally. The youth who have taken to the streets in peaceful protest are not only exercising their democratic rights but also highlighting legitimate grievances concerning governance, corruption, and accountability. Their courage and determination deserve our respect and support.

To address this trend of infiltration and violence, we must first acknowledge its existence and its implications. The Kenyan authorities must investigate these allegations thoroughly and hold accountable any individuals found responsible for instigating violence and disruption during peaceful demonstrations.

As a society, we must come together to protect the integrity of peaceful protests. This can be achieved through increased vigilance and collaboration between organisers, security agencies, and community leaders.

Effective communication and coordination are essential to prevent opportunistic criminals from hijacking the noble intentions of legitimate protesters.

We must not allow these incidents to discourage or silence the voices of those calling for positive change. The grievances that drive these demonstrations are real and urgent. Instead, we should redouble our efforts to find constructive solutions to the underlying issues causing discontent among the populace.

As we move forward, let us reaffirm our commitment to peaceful protest as a fundamental right and a powerful tool for social change. Let us stand in solidarity with those who peacefully advocate for a better Kenya and reject attempts to derail their efforts through violence and subterfuge.

The recent events surrounding the protests in Kenya serve as a stark reminder of the challenges we face in safeguarding our democratic freedoms.

Let us use this moment not to despair but to reassert our collective commitment to justice, transparency, and accountability. Together, we can ensure that the voices of the people are heard and that our nation moves forward toward a future of promise and prosperity for all.

It is our responsibility to fight for our rights and protect our country at the same time. By instigating violence, there are a few individuals who have proved to us that all they care about is their selfish gains and not the country.

They do not care for the small business people who have had their businesses brought down by the goons they sponsored. Some leaders have proven not to be leaders but individuals who cannot think reasonably.

We must stop them.

The writer is a Mombasa-based communication and marketing expert.

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