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Saturday, 26 September 2020

Toxic utterances recipe for chaos

 

Former President Daniel arap Moi’s familiar quote “siasa mbaya maisaha mbaya” translated into 'bad politics bad life', rings louder at public rallies than war drums on rooftops. The self-proclaimed professor of politics also warned of deeper ethnic divisions with the introduction of competitive politics.

The Kanu leadership together with the labour movement waged the freedom struggle against British rule in the Sixties and the campaign for the release of Jomo Kenyatta and five others detained without trial for political agitation.

As per Moi’s prediction, the country is manifestly polarised under dozens of splinters, fragments and fragile ethnic-based parties registered for purposes of collecting non-refundable fees from nomination rejects. In short, membership of these fringe entities is nominal and they act as election conveyor belts.

The political atmosphere is by all accounts toxic and a sad reminder of the 2007 post-election violence. This is thanks largely to the acrimonious verbal exchanges between political rivals amid clamour for a referendum to amend the Constitution. It is reminiscent of the 2005 noisy campaigns on the doctored Bomas draft.

There is always a costly price to pay for inflammatory utterances. A case in point is the 2007-8 PEV in which more than 1,000 perished, hundreds of thousands uprooted from their homes and property of unknown value destroyed.  

Nobody was ever held accountable for the massive losses after suspects arraigned before the International Criminal Court at the Hague, Netherlands, were set free.

Instead of talking about regional and ethnic alliances, political party leaders should do everything within their power to ensure that old wounds are not opened and chaos renewed during elections.

If the divisive premature presidential campaigns are anything to go by, then chaos looms in the horizon. Any future eruption of election-related disputes could relegate the 2007 violence to a Christmas party.

Retired South African judge Johann Kriegler warned of this at a media briefing on his inquiry into the defunct Electoral Commission of Kenya that bungled the 2007 presidential election, leading to the bloodshed.

Cooling the fever pitch political temperature triggered by the March 9, 2018, handshake between political foes President Uhuru Kenyatta and opposition leader Raila Odinga is more urgent than forging alliances.

But Deputy President William Ruto read mischief in the laudable reconciliation and claimed it was a ploy to deny him a chance to succeed Uhuru in 2022. The country's number two was not consulted by his boss on the intention to bring the opposition leader on board, hence, the campaign to downplay the gesture that silenced discordant voices.

If the Building Bridges Initiative, the brainchild of Uhuru and Raila, causes jitters, why not postpone the referendum campaigns and settle for minimum legal reforms on the electoral process?

The Inter Parties Parliamentary Group averted looming chaos in 1997. The group should reconvene urgently to diagnose underlying problems and prescribe durable remedial measures for the common good.

Instead of talking about regional and ethnic alliances, political party leaders should do everything within their power to ensure that old wounds are not opened and chaos renewed during elections.

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