Witchdoctors’ chairperson in Matuga, Kwale County, Khamis Tsakapala, says their business has crumbled after the coronavirus pandemic broke out in Kenya two weeks ago.
Tsapakala, who leads a community of at least ten witchdoctors in Kwale, says he and his colleagues have lost income to the tune of millions of shillings after their clients locked themselves in their houses, fearing contracting the contagion.
“On good days, I can make up to Ksh100, 000 in a day. Since the first coronavirus case in Kenya was registered on March 12, my business has taken a hit; there are no clients. When I reach out to them, they say they can’t come to my den because they fear contracting the disease,” Tsapakala told K24 Digital.
Tsapakala says Kenyan MPs and white people form the large part of his clientele.
“I remember on March 13, I had already secured work priced at Ksh90, 000. However, after President Uhuru Kenyatta announced that we had registered the first COVID-19 case in the country, the client pulled out of the agreement,” he said.
Tsapakala says he and his colleagues have resorted to meet next week Tuesday (March 31) to “discuss how we can work together and use our powers to send away this disease (coronavirus)”.
On Tuesday, March 24, Health minister Mutahi Kagwe listed Kwale as one of the four counties that have produced COVID-19 patients in Kenya. The other counties are Nairobi, Mombasa and Kilifi.
On Wednesday, President Uhuru Kenyatta announced that the coronavirus cases in Kenya had risen to 28, though a patient, who was in isolation at Mbagathi, had fully recovered from the disease.
The president went ahead to announce measures his Government will take to cushion Kenyans against tough economic times wrought by coronavirus outbreak.
Ranging from tax reductions, to ordering State departments to expedite payments of pending bills, the Head of State said the decisions arrived at would help Kenyans remain financially afloat as the Government commits to battling the virus, whose confirmed cases in the country stood at 28 as of Wednesday, Mach 25.
Below are some of the tax reliefs and measures President Kenyatta said would help reduce financial uncertainty among Kenyans:
• 100% tax relief to Kenyans earning Ksh24, 000 and below.
• Pay as you earn (PAYE) reduction from a maximum of 30% to 25%.
• Reduction of turnover tax rate from 3% to 1% for all micro, small and medium enterprises.
• Reduction of resident income tax to 25%.
• The Government to make available Ksh10 billion to vulnerable groups including the elderly and orphans, among others. This, the president, said will be done through cash transfers from the Ministry of Labour and Social Protection.
• Temporary suspension of the listing of loan defaulters with the Credit Reference Bureau (CRB) of any person, micro, small and medium enterprise and corporate entities whose loan account is in arrears effective April 1, 2020.
• Reduction of VAT from 16% to 14% effective April 1, 2020.
• All ministries and State departments to make payments amounting to Ksh30 billion to those owed monies by the Government. This, the president said, must be done within three weeks from March 25. The Head of State also urged the private sector to clear pending bills.
• KRA to expedite payment of all VAT refunds amounting to Ksh10 billion, or allow withholding of offsetting VAT. This, President Kenyatta said, must happen within three weeks.
• Ksh1 billion from the Universal Health Coverage kitty be channeled to the employment of new health workers to help combat the spread of COVID-19.
• The president and his deputy to take 80% pay-cut, all Cabinet Secretaries to take 30% pay-cuts, Chief Administrative Secretaries (30%) and Principal Secretaries (20%).
• All State and public officers aged 58 and above; and have preexisting medical conditions, to take leave from work, or be allowed to work from home. This directive excludes those public officers working in the security department.
• CBK to lower the Central Bank Rate from 8.25% to 7.25%.
• Reduce the Cash Reserve Ratio from 5.25% to 4.25%. The president said this will help increase liquidity of Ksh35 billion to commercial banks, which, in turn, will be in positions to provide loan services to “distressed Kenyans”.
• CBK directed to provide flexibility to bank loan classifications and loans performing as at March 2, 2020.
All the above proposals can only be ratified by the National Assembly and the Senate, and the National Treasury Cabinet Secretary Ukur Yatani was directed to present them before Parliament for approval before April 1, 2020.
Senate Speaker Kenneth Makelo Lusaka and his National Assembly counterpart, Justin Njoka Muturi, on Thursday, March 26, announced that the two Houses of Parliament will convene special sittings on Tuesday, March 31, to discuss the president’s recommendations on COVID-19 fight.
The Head of State also directed Cabinet sittings chaired by Interior minister Fred Matiang’i be held twice a week, up from once a week. President Kenyatta said the sittings should be focused on the impact of the virus on the Kenyan people.
The president further announced a national 7pm to 5am curfew to all Kenyans beginning Friday, March 27. Health workers and essential service providers are excluded from those affected by the curfew. President Kenyatta said a full list of essential service providers will be made available soon.
The Head of State also directed that the management of the Kenya ferry Services be vested in the National Police Service.
“The Coast Guard Service and all citizens are expected to obey all rules procedures set out for crossing the ferry channel,” said President Kenyatta.