Thursday, April 21, 2016

A harbinger

Good people, in my ongoing jihad against an expansion of administrative authority, I turn your attention to the provisions of section 6 of the Trade Descriptions Act, chapter 505 of the laws of Kenya, especially in another civil servant's jihad against Daktari wa Mapenzi.

The section is a bit lengthy, so bear with me.
(1) It shall be an offence for any person, in the course of any trade—
(a) to make a statement which he knows to be false; or
(b) recklessly to make a statement which is false, as to any of the following matters—
(i) the provision in the course of any trade of any services, accommodation or facilities;
(ii) the nature of any services, accommodation or facilities provided in the course of any trade;
(iii) the time at which, manner in which, or persons by whom, any services, accommodation, or facilities are so provided;
(iv) the examination, approval or evaluation, by any person of any services, accommodation or facilities so provided;
(v) the location or amenities of any accommodation so provided.
(2) For the purposes of this section—
(a) anything (whether or not a statement as to any of the matters specified in subsection (1)) likely to be taken for such a statement as to any of those matters as would be false shall be deemed to be a false statement as to that matter; and
(b) a statement made regardless of whether it is true or false shall be deemed to be made recklessly, whether or not the person making it had reasons for believing that it might be false.
Let us assume, as the KFCB seems to have assumed, that Daktari wa Mapenzi is engaged in a trade and that in this trade the good Daktari offers a service whose outcome might be a cure for a broken heart or love-sickness or virility in the bedroom or the successful completion of a business deal or some similar outcome. Let us assume that the A4-sized and laminated posters on lampposts and market walls are trade descriptions within the meaning of the Trade Descriptions Act. If you can see how and why the KFCB would intervene in this particular area of the law as a lead agency in the enforcement of the provisions of section 6 of the Act, you are much smarter than I am.

I could delve into the intricacies of the Witchcraft Act or the Consumer Protection Act, 2012, but I don't want to bore you to death. That you've gotten this far is testimony enough to your fortitude. The Kenya Film Classification Board is not a consumer protection organisation nor is it a colonial-era police organisation going after waganga and wachawi. Iit is not even a regulatory body in the mould of the Communications Authority. At the end of the day it is, and remains, an KANU-era anachronism in the twenty-first century.

Film classification is a holdover from the film censorship days which was, in turn, the demon seed of the Victorian Age when morality was guided by Her Majesty the Queen and her minions. The KFCB wants to take over from where the Victorian England left off and pursue immorality where it might find it and hound it out of the national system. We know it will fail. It knows it will fail. Yet its CEO seems hellbent in treading the same path that has led to the great abuse of personal liberties by autocracies the world over. In fact, if the KFCB is not careful it will soon enough be compared to the thick-headed mutaween of Saudi Arabia's Committee for the Promotion of Virtue and the Prevention of Vice which, according to, in 2010,
"...launched a massive campaign against "sorcery" or "black magic" in the Kingdom. The prohibition includes "fortune tellers or faith healers". (Some people executed for sorcery following the announcement include a man from Najran province in June 2012, a Saudi woman in the province of Jawf, in December 2011, and a Sudanese man executed on September 2011."
The KFCB is the harbinger to a religious police. That should scare everyone. 

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