National Cohesion and Integration Commission must make its presence felt
The National Cohesion and Integration Commission (NCIC) was set up as a result of mediated talks by the late Ghanaian international diplomat Kofi Annan following Kenya’s 2007-8 post-election violence.
It was the only permanent commission created to address one of the Agenda Four issues singled out by the Annan mediation team as having precipitated the violence which was partly blamed on lack of national cohesion.
The other three issues related to electoral and constitutional reforms, and fight against impunity.
The Waki Commission that probed the cause of the violence concluded that entrenched tribal hatred was one of the key drivers.
The cohesion team was, therefore, mandated to promote the elimination of all forms of discrimination based on ethnicity or race.
NCIC was also tasked to promote tolerance, understanding and acceptance of diversity in all aspects of national life and encourage full participation by all ethnic communities in the social, economic, cultural and political life of other communities.
We are, concerned that though well-funded and properly constituted, NCIC has failed to live up to its obligations.
Kenyans continue to witness chilling statements by politicians, preachers and social media users that propagate ethnic hate and religious discrimination right in front of the commission’s eyes.
The commission’s knee-jerk reaction has been to release warning statements to culprits and botched prosecution evidence in case of arrests before the commissioners retreat to hotels across the country for their endless workshops.
It is time to call the public-funded commission to order. It is apparent to all and sundry that NCIC has been largely ineffective as hatred and violence spiral.
We are concerned about its proposal for the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission not to clear politicians with questionable character to contest in the forthcoming General Election.
The NCIC has also proposed that aspirants for various seats should acquire a social cohesion certificate.
While we agree that hate mongers and warlords must not be accorded positions of leadership, we maintain that the NCIC is partly to blame for the current state of affairs.
The commission cannot be allowed to transfer its weakness and burden of failure to another entity with a distinct constitutional mandate.
We invite a national conversation on the credibility of the cohesion team as the country gears up for what is promising to be a highly polarising election.
It should either be given more teeth to deal with culprits or its mandate transferred to a more effective agency.