Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Heckle away, good people.

Now that my initial post-Narok Schadenfreude has abated somewhat, and I have had the opportunity for further reflection, and I am quite sober, I believe that revisiting the question of whether or not political freedom should permit men and women to behave like a pack of hungry hyenas. President Kenyatta went to Migori and was heckled. The Governor organised a delegation to Nairobi to apologise. The President graciously accepted the apologies and asked the prosecuting authorities to let his hecklers free. So far the leader of the Coalition for Reforms and Democracy seems to be on the backfoot.

But the Leader of the Majority Party in the National Assembly seems not have gotten the memo; he is volubly and aggressively courting political damnation by his utterances. So too, it seems, is his newest coalition colleague, the Member for Gatundu South who recently threatened the Cabinet Secretary for Foreign Affairs and International Trade with the sack for not implementing the motion of the National Assembly to "pull out of the Rome Statute." Messrs Duale and Kuria seem of a kind and they are determined to prove for all the world to see that in the verbal combat and histrionics of the political arena in Kenya, they are not to be trifled with.

Kenya has always had a sharp-elbowed political elite, one that got by using tricks best reserved for the underworld of crime and corruption. This elite has played its games often at the expense of the people. It has exploited social defects to its advantage: poverty, unemployment, marginalisation and hunger. It is doing so today with the calls for referenda by the Minority Party and select governors. It is doing so today with the highly charged and highly misunderstood question of the Senate's oversight powers over the county governments, especially governors.

The developments over the past year have been dispiriting. The political elite continues to use voters as political cannon fodder, sometimes with tragic results. The political elite lives a life of luxury and will do all in its power to maintain the lifestyle to which it has become accustomed. But it is doing so against the interests of the people it claims to speak for. As a result, political cannon fodder is used, misused and abused to foment trouble and instability while political leaders who appear combative in front of the cameras strike deals to keep themselves in truffles forever.

The people, therefore, should exercise their political freedom to heckle all and sundry among the political elite even if that elite be the President or Leaders of the Majority Party. We have suffered because of political decisions to which our contributions were elided and ignored. Therefore, whenever a politician makes a crass remark or commits an unconscionable act, we must be at liberty to demonstrate our displeasure in a remonstration that might involve missiles of one sort or the other. It is the price the political elite must pay for the power they enjoy to make our lives solitary, poor, nasty, brutish and short.

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