Let respect, sanity rule in current political impasse
Last week, I warned against applying the wrong methods when dealing with national challenges. Unfortunately, in only seven days, we have gone rogue and crossed the line of sanity.
The violence that characterised the political protests organised by Opposition leader Raila Odinga on Monday, the invasion of a farm owned by the family of retired President Uhuru Kenyatta in Ruiru, Kiambu county, the alleged attempted break-in into East African Spectre, the gas cylinder manufacturing firm owned by Raila’s family, and the harassment of journalists covering the demonstrations are a manifestation of how low we have sunk as a nation and the readiness with which our political class is ready to abuse the rule of law and the democracy they so often preach about.
In my last posting, I argued against the spirited marketing of scorn, ridicule, deceit, falsehoods, unrealistic demands, skirting around issues of public concern, chest-thumping, dishonesty, ethnic-driven insolence and lack of respect for others.
I also discouraged weekend posturing and exchange of epithets in places of worship and public rallies that offer no remedy to woes afflicting the country. On the contrary, that is exactly what we witnessed this week, making our return to sanity far from over.
The attack on the Kenyatta family’s Northland farm and the assault and robbing of journalists are as despicable as they are deplorable. The actions are base, primitive and an affront to the democracy that Kenyans have so hard fought for over many years.
Ownership of private property is protected by our very progressive Constitution. So do the freedom of media, expression, worship and association. It was, therefore, the height of folly for an armed goon to descend on the farm of the former First Family to steal livestock and light a fire. That is retrogressive. Just as was the attack on journalists by both the police and the demonstrators.
The Kenyatta family has given this country two Presidents and two very decent First Ladies. It is only fair— if not prudent — that we leave members of that family— just like those of Daniel arap Moi and Mwai Kibaki — to live in peace without an iota of threats or interruptions from whatever quarters.
Media plays a very pivotal role in the nurturing and promotion of the rule of law. It is an essential, albeit indispensable tenet of democracy. The media is merely the messenger. It helps not a bit to attack the messenger.
The last two demonstrations staged by the Azimio political ensemble have fallen far from the description of peaceful demonstrations.
Both the organisers and the State have been quick to flex their muscles rather than sticking to what is prescribed in the statute books.
Peaceful assembly and picketing are provided for and fully protected by our Constitution. The law clearly stipulates the process that should be followed in holding peaceful protests. The lives and property of non-protesters must be guaranteed as well as the safety of the protestors.
However, both the State and organisers of the demos have failed to adhere to this guideline, instead choosing to resort to unhelpful retrogressive supremacy wars and chest-thumping. The consequence of that posturing are deaths of three innocent Kenyans on two Mondays and tens of others injured, including security officers.
Another demonstration is planned for tomorrow. One hope is that no single life will be lost and none will come with scars from those processions. We have lost three lives because we are allowing pride and disorder to take precedence ahead of reason.
We cannot afford to go further than this. Let us rediscover our civility. Beginning tomorrow, let the law take precedence. Let us have the protestors have their way and the rest of Kenyans have their peace. That is the way it should have been from the start. It is that respect and sanity that I was calling for last week. That plea remains today and in future. Reason must prevail. At all times.
— The author is the Revise Editor at the People Daily [email protected]