We must listen to NCIC and legislate against class incitement now

Tuesday, February 2nd, 2021 00:00 |
NCIC chairman Rev Samuel Kobia (right) with commissioner Dorcas Kedogo addresses the press at his office in Nairobi in the past

By Michael Cherambos

That lawmakers are planning to amend the law to criminalise inciting the poor against the rich is good news and couldn’t have come at a better time. Ordinarily, issues of how people relate in accordance to how much and what they own should not be a matter to be discussed in Parliament. In fact, Parliament should make it its core business to come up with policies to ensure that no Kenyan lives in poverty.

But because some leaders are seeking to take advantage of the economic differences in the country to divide citizens and perpetuate their stay in power, even at the cost of losing lives and property, it is time we made laws that make this impossible.

It is interesting, though not funny, that billionaires who have made fortunes so fast under very shady circumstances in a country where the majority are wallowing in abject poverty will turn around and claim to be mobilizing the same poor against another group of billionaires simply because the latter made the their fortunes decades earlier and are a threat to the former’s aspiration to grab power!

Put simply, calling itself hustlers, there is a group of politicians coalescing around billionaire Deputy President William Ruto that is going around the country inciting idle, poor and mainly youthful men and women to revolt against those they describe as dynasties. The object of their mission are President Uhuru Kenyatta and Opposition leader Raila Odinga. The two are called dynasties because their fathers, Jomo Kenyatta and Jaramogi Oginga Odinga were at some point President and Vice President respectively.  The whole point is to mobilise the relatively poor, which forms a big majority of Kenyans, to turn up and vote for Ruto as President in the year 2022 general elections under the illusion that he is one of them.

It is, however, in the process of mobilizing the vote that the danger of extinction as a country lies, hence the need to use all legal means to stop the campaign! The hustler versus dynasties narrative is hate speech and must be dealt with as such.

It is encouraging that the National Assembly’s national security committee wants the National Cohesion and Integration Act amended to include class as a basis for incitement and discrimination. The law mostly touches on discrimination and incitement on the basis of ethnicity, race, nation and religion.

But MPs now want the class issue explicitly addressed saying the hustler vs dynasty narrative should be treated as hate speech with the potential to pit Kenyans against each other. It is already doing that, if events of the recent past are anything to go by.

“There is no difference between those inciting people along tribal lines and those doing so along class lines. The law needs to catch up with new forms of hate,” says the committee’s chair Paul Mr Koinange.

I agree with the Kiambaa MP completely.

The narrative is mostly being propagated by supporters of Deputy President William Ruto who have christened themselves as hustlers to portray themselves as identifying with the downtrodden and champions of their plight.

They have branded the political wing led by President Kenyatta and Raila Odinga as the dynasties, suggesting they have grown in privilege and power.

Like Mr Koinange says, we have started witnessing splashes of violence based on the hustler vs dynasty narrative. It is very dangerous and can plunge the country into chaos. The narrative is likely to drive the country into civil strife. It aims to polarise the country and trigger violence between the rich and the poor.

What the majority of the poor seem not to understand is that the leaders of the Hustler Nation are filthy rich. They fly in choppers to go and donate wheelbarrows, they dine in and run five-star hotels, some of them are actually sons and daughters of people who stole from the public and bequeathed the stolen wealth to them.

By all means, let’s stop this nonsensical narrative and work hard to make this country a better place for all of us. If it takes legislation to do it, then there is no better time.

Michael Cherambos comments on topical socio-political issues; [email protected]

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