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Sleaze, slandery veiled as free speech abhorrent

By Mukalo Kwayera
Wednesday, September 16th, 2020
Emurua Dikirr MP Johanna Ng’eno being led to a Nakuru court where he was charged with hate speech and offensive conduct. He was remanded at the Nakuru GK Prison till tomorrow. Photo/PD/RAPHAEL MUNGE
In summary

President Uhuru Kenyatta’s Big Four agenda risks being trashed in the mire and ruts of Kenyan politics.

As it stands now, the Head of State appears to be a lone ranger in the desire to peg his legacy around Food Security, Affordable Housing, Affordable Healthcare and Manufacturing. 

It must be frustrating in that while Uhuru strides from one point to another in an attempt to weave the nation into a united and cohesive entity, the political class and members of his own Executive have taken a different route, with indications that the legacy he desires could remain a pipe dream.

The past three weeks have witnessed a return to the regrettable politics of sleaze, slander, salacity and incitement, camouflaged as freedom of speech.

Political rascals, mostly from the President’s own Jubilee Party and ministers in his Cabinet have resigned to insults, blackmail, hubris and chest-thumping as a mode of purveying ethnic-laced political messages couched in threats and provocation against each other politically and tribally.

Lawmakers Oscar Sudi, Johanna Ng’eno, Environment and Forestry Cabinet Secretary Keriako Tobiko and Elgeyo Marakwet Senator Kipchumba Murkomen fall in this irritating category. 

The quartet are part of a long list that has embraced insolence, epithets and mudslinging as a weapon against their perceived political foes, both real and imagined.

The re-emerging trend is not only primitive and decadent but also a threat to national unity, integration and economic stability.

Kenya has no room for merchants of war roaming all over in the name of ethnic nationalism and political mileage.

These mongers of hate and division must be stopped in their tracks early enough. 

Kenya’s Constitution has been billed as one of, if not, the most progressive in the world.

The statute is outstanding in its entrenchment of democracy and liberal provisions.

Though regarded highly elsewhere, a considerable section of Kenyans are pushing for a review of the existing set of laws, arguing that they are not as unifying and accommodative as they should to fit into Kenya’s unique geo-political circumstances.

It is ironical, therefore, that whereas citizens of other nations are still hankering for the kind of constitutional liberties Kenyans enjoy, certain elements within our midst, especially in the political class, are puking on the very freedoms the Constitution guarantees Kenyans.

The country is witnessing a slow but sure return to the retrogressive politics of fear and despondency registered in the authoritarian days of yore.

Whereas lack of decorum is not a new phenomenon in Kenyan politics, at no time in the history of independent Kenya has the level of our values and ethos sunk so low as for one to feel free to mudsling the Head of State and their parents in a format that Ng’eno and Sudi are gleefully ready to, at will and choice.

This is cheap, parochial and outrightly cantankerous. Such tomfoolery is so trivial, pedestrian and misplaced that it should never be entertained in our political environment today or any other day in future.

Freedom of speech should not be mistaken as a licence for anyone to thrive within the frontiers of abuse, confrontation and rancour. 

Politicians crusading to take Kenya back into an epoch of hatred and ethnic divisions camouflaged in regional political bases and aspirations must be called out.

Kenya belongs to all its nationals and, therefore, no one has the right to lord over others in an uncontrollable fashion.

The freedom Kenyans enjoy today was gained through pain, sweat, arm, limb and blood starting with our forefathers who fought for the independence of this country and later many others who stuck their necks out during the so-called Second Liberation to push for the inclusive Constitution that guarantees us our freedoms today.

We must therefore safeguard these freedoms and protect our democracy vigorously at all times.

One way of doing so is by ensuring that we constitutionally tame those who seek to abuse the liberties and rights we continue to enjoy at the moment. —  The author is a Revise Editor at People Daily. Email: mukalo.kwayer[email protected]