How my public participation forum bid was scuttled
Sunday, August 2nd, 2020
I am bitter. I am bitter with the police. I am more bitter with my colleague MCA Violata, leader of the minority in our Assembly. These injuries I am now nursing are a result of her so-called foresight.
It all began when we learnt we were to discuss the county budget.
“Bwana Gwinso, when it comes to the Ward Development Fund, we must insist wards with higher populations get more cash,” she told me.
Her ward and mine were the most highly populated in our county.
However, I knew we were going to face stiff opposition from most of our colleagues, whose wards were sparsely populated.
“I know the odds are against us, but it is all a matter of strategy. Once we fail inside the assembly, we shall turn to the people. We will organize for street demos.”
This inspired me into thinking. “We shall plan for media coverage so that the whole world can see what the people want,” I said.
“Yes. I know someone who is very good with the TV camera,” Violata said.
“Is he an accredited journalist?”
“It doesn’t matter. The fellow does a good job.” We agreed to use our contacts on the ground to get a group of protesters to be on standby on budget day.
On the D-Day, we strode into the chambers in a combative mood. The order of the day was pronounced and fortunately, the budget was to be the first item.
“Point of order!” Violata erupted.
“Yes, leader of minority,” said the speaker.
“We should address the ward development fund first. We need to agree on how we are going to share it.”
“Hold your horses, Madam Violata,” said the speaker.”
“The more the people, the more the money,” screeched Violata.
“Order!” shouted the speaker.
“Ati more people, more money? Nonsense!” squealed MCA Matayo who was seated facing Violata.
“More people, more money,” I bellowed.
There followed a shouting match between Violata and me on one side, and Matayo and a few MCAs on the other.
Some colleagues just watched speechlessly. Apparently unable to control her fury any longer, Violata removed one of her shoes and hurled it towards Matayo, missing his head narrowly.
“MCA Violata, out!” roared the speaker. “We can’t condone such behaviour.”
“I will go out in solidarity with her,” I said. We both walked out. Events were running according to script.
Once outside, Violata made a phone call and within a short time, a small crowd had gathered at the gate.
A man with a video camera was also there. “People’s power!” shouted Violata
“Power!” came the response.
A uniformed police officer came and whispered to me that this was an illegal gathering and that we were risking arrest.
“Arrest us now!” I shouted, drawing the attention of the crowd to the officer. He was booed away.
Seeing the camera trained on us, I seized the moment.
“When I say ‘More people’, you say ‘More money’
I didn’t see them arrive – the police. An explosion and then people running helter-skelter. I told Violata to stay put. Some cops walked towards us with rungus.
“Keep social distance,” I said.
“Tuguze uone,” yelled Violata.
One of the officers moved close to us and then with a resounding smack, slapped the ward rep. To my shock, she took off at lightning speed.
Buoyed by the presence of the camera, I stood my ground.
“Wewe ndio kichwa ngumu?”an officer asked me.
“This is a democratic country, not a police state,” I declared with the confidence of a puff adder.
I then turned to face the camera. “When I become governor in 2022, such barbaric acts will not be tolerated in this county,” I puffed, punching the air above me.
Suddenly, an officer gave the cameraman a heavy kick from behind, causing his tool of trade to drop.
“You can’t do that to a journalist,” I protested.
“Journalist bandia! Wapi badge yake?”
I watched helplessly as the cops clobbered the fellow. Suddenly, something heavy—heavier than a rungu—landed on my head.
When I came to, I was in my bed with Mama Hiro standing beside me. “Kwani honey, you went to fight the police?” she asked tenderly.
I tried to explain to her what happened, but she just stared at me incredulously.
What pains me now, more than my injuries, is the reality that all these events will not be seen on TV. Inauma sana! – [email protected]