THE PROPOSED ANTI-MEDIA BILL IN KENYA PRIMITIVE

Kenyan Members of Parliament are at it again. In a move deserving world-wide condemnation, legislators in Nairobi now want not only to tighten their strangle-hold on the country’s already suffocating media, but to insulate themselves further from criticism of any kind and criminal action of any manner against them.

A Member of Parliament, Adan Keynan, is proposing measures that seek to muzzle all media, shut-down the voice of the people and grant lawmakers privileges of immunity not seen in any decent government system anywhere in the world.

The Bill is still in the processing stage, but if debated and enacted into law, it will make Members of Parliament an “untouchable” lot that cannot be reached even by the court of law.

While Kenyans have seen the enactment of several anti-media legislation before, the current proposed law goes against the spirit of the constitution; and is beyond people’s interests and common sense.

This Parliament, elected in 2013, is notorious in its assault on the freedom of the media. It has enacted laws that are draconian and primitive; laws that are only conceived, enacted and implemented in a banana republic.

While the intended law will allow MPs to say anything about anyone within the grounds of Parliament, wananchi will not be allowed to utter any words deemed to be defamatory against Parliament, its committees and proceedings. What this means is that wananchi will be gagged from talking and writing about the rampant corruption, greed, debauchery and all the other ills touching on their leaders.

This reminds me of the days in the Moi era when people had to whisper even in their bedrooms for fear of the then dreaded Special Branch operatives. To be heard talking ill of the government then was treasonable. I hope we are not going back to those days.

Early this year, Kenyans saw some nasty demonstrations outside Parliament buildings against MPs. Protestors brought with them live piglets and dozens of buckets of pig blood and dumped them outside the building in an angry response to the excesses of theIR legislators. Media practitioners have also staged some dramatic scenes at the gate of the National Assembly to oppose what they view as anti-media laws. That is why Kenyan MPs are now simply called “MPigs.”

The proposed bill is one legislation that must be opposed by all Kenyans. President Uhuru Kenyatta must not sign it when it gets to his desk because it is unpopular, disgusting and perpetuates a class system. It shames the nation and portrays our legislative body as wayward and intolerant to criticisms.

And that is my say.

 

RAILA’S MAGIC WAND FAILS TO QUELL TROUBLES IN KENYA OPPOSITION PARTY

It is very difficult to ignore the political shenanigans in the opposition Orange Democratic Movement (ODM) in Kenya. For most of this year, Kenyans have witnessed a paroxysm of intrigues, anti-party drama, and gaudy brinkmanship, as the movement desperately struggles to maintain discipline within itself while furiously working to out-sprint its main challenger, the Jubilee coalition.

We have seen party goons disrupt its national elections; rebels threatening to leave the party; leadership wrangles in its secretariat; rank-and-file divisions over important issues including whether there should be a referendum; and policy let-downs such as when the party failed to convince the government to agree to a dialogue on crucial matters of national interest. All in all, the state of the opposition during the first quarter of the current five-year election circle is pathetic.

Consequently, it is unlikely that the party of Raila Amolo Odinga will recover from all these shortcomings and be able to wrestle Jubilee out of power in 2017. ODM has conceded too many goals to the government side; and, unfortunately, some of the goals were scored by its own self as it tried to satisfy varying personal and strategic interests. The perceived ostracizing of elected leaders in some regions, as well as the party’s inability to penetrate its once biggest support base of the Rift Valley, has left the party with marginal expectations of victory three years from now.

Raila, known for his tactical mobilisation skills, has failed to whip into line wayward legislators and officials including those from his own rural backyard of Nyanza.The indiscipline is costing the party support and could erode goodwill even among its own financiers. The loss of the once powerful former cabinet minister Dalmas Otieno and others in Nyanza to the government side may be dismissed as a small, insignificant shift, but the fact that Odingaism has almost been dismantled in Nyanza, Raila’s de facto bedrock region, is something to worry about.

In the neighboring western region, people are not happy that one of their most resourceful young politicians, Ababu Namwamba, is being harassed for his reported stand against the ODM-driven referendum proposal. ODM faces the same dilemma at the coast where party support is wavering.The only two people ODM can now rely on at the coast is Governor Joho and Senator Hassan. The rest of the elected ODM leaders are flip-floppers, torn between accepting immediate “goodies” from Jubilee or wait for ODM promises that may not materialise.

To make matters worse, President Uhuru Kenyatta and his Deputy, William Ruto, seem to be using every minute of their political life working towards isolating Raila from elected leaders, and frustrating every opposition move both in and outside Parliament.

The proposed referendum advocated by Raila and meant to make various changes in the constitution is already running into head-winds as more elected leaders withdraw their support. As ODM internal strife rages, the Jubilee coalition is busy registering new members in readiness for voter registration.

In Africa, some say, an incumbent never loses a presidential race. In Kenya, Uhuru is the incumbent. He has already made it clear he intends to stay in power for ten years.With the scenario now at play, Raila – who has already declared he will contest in 2017 – will have to pull out more than one magic wand to win in his fourth attempt at the presidency.

And that is my say.

 

 

THE PROPOSED ANTI-GAY LEGISLATION IN KENYA “QUEER”

Until this week, many people did not know Edward Onwong’a Nyakeriga, perhaps because he is a minor political party official with no opportunity for media exposure. I googled his name on the Internet and could find nothing of substance in his name..

But a few days ago he exploded into the national limelight to claim his fifteen minutes of fame by sending to his surrogates in Parliament what I consider the “queerest”  and most farcical Bill ever sent for debate by the National Assembly.

This unassuming gentleman, who is allied to a nondescript party, the Republican Liberty Party (RLP), wants gays stoned to death as a punishment for their so-called wayward behavior. He wants maximum punishment for homosexuals, lesbians and transgender characters, caught having sex with anyone under eighteen; or engaging in sex while infected with HIV. 

I call the proposed Anti-Homosexuality Bill queer (no pun intended) because it will introduce an element of primitivity in our otherwise modern judicial system. Stoning of convicts is practiced in uncivilised and backward communities, It is as anti-quated as it is outlandish. It abuses the Bill of Rights in our Constitution and has the potential of igniting social discordance. The Bill is queer because it will reduce Kenya, a well-respected sovereign country, to the level of a brigand outfit, of the likes of Al Shabaab and Boko Haram.

Fellow Kenyans, this proposed legislation is misplaced and completely unnecessary and should be disallowed.

Homosexuals, like the majority of us who are heterosexuals, are human beings who are entitled to the same basic rights of existence and the same application of the law as everyone else.They cannot be discriminated against. To do so is to deny them their human rights.

With more and more countries taking the liberal route of legalising same sex marriages across the globe, the gay angle is an international magnet, A simple party official, who until last week was under the bottom of the radar, is now likely to be a global reference point for the anti-gay community in Kenya. The international press has already taken up the story and is running with it like everything anti-African. I have no doubt Nyakeriga will, from now on, be on the lips of many foreign and local non-governmental organisations that are advocating the rights of the LGBT – Lesbian, Gays, Bisexual and Transgender – community. 

Nyakeriga has elicited the help of  a group of anti-gay MPs in Parliament to push through the Bill – since his party has no representatives there – which has already been sent to the House Justice and Legal Affairs Committee.

It is my hope that the legislators mandated to midwife the Bill through Parliament will encourage public debate of the same outside Parliament so that Kenyans wishing to make a contribution can do so before the debate begins in the House.

And that is my say.

WHY KENYA HAS BECOME A HAVEN FOR INTERNATIONAL DRUG LORDS

Recent interceptions of huge drug consignments at sea and on land suggest Kenya has become one of the biggest ports of entry for traffickers moving contraband drugs from South America to Europe and North America.

The problem is so big that I see no point of listing the colossal amounts of drugs nabbed within the Kenyan territory over the years; nor enumerate the number of crooks who have been caught at our entry points.

I also see no reason to name names of big time, politically-connected, drug lords in the country since this information is in the domain of the government. Members of drug cartels have been exposed not only in Parliament but in numerous international reports. Some of them are occupying very senior positions in the political establishment. Kenyans know them. 

But there are reasons why Kenya is a preferred trans-shipment point for drug traffickers. One is corruption. That connivance exists between international dealers and officials in government, especially in security and customs agencies is a matter of common knowledge.. Officials are compromised to look the other way as containers full of illicit goods roll past exit gates. Some of these drugs, including marijuana, methamphetamine, heroin and cocaine, find their way into our neighborhoods, turning our children into zombies and even killing them.

Because of corruption, international drug barons find it easy to move freely in Kenya, As I write, three Polish drug lords are reportedly hiding in the country, and are undoubtedly, being aided and abetted by their local counterparts. The government of Poland wants them arrested and deported.

Two, immunity, We have had too many cases where large caches of drugs have been intercepted and people have been taken to court, but the story has ended there. Rarely do we hear of convictions. What we often see are individuals – most of them from disadvantaged communities – being hauled to prison for long periods of time for possessing small amounts of drugs. The big shots go scot-free. Our courts are also too liberal and often grant bail to foreign drug dealers who then abscond. Foreign cartels know this and find it safer to operate through or within the country.

Three, lack of political goodwill. Although we have strong, comprehensive laws, there is lack of commitment by the leadership in general. America has given us patrol boats for use in the Indian Ocean and it continues to collaborate with us on intelligence matters, but more funding dedicated commitment, and political goodwill, are needed from the government to wage a complete war.

Three, the government body mandated to formulate policies on drug trafficking and use – NACADA – is a toothless bull-dog; it barks but do not bite. It has completely failed in its job. This is evident from the large numbers of drug addicts in our towns. That is why NACADA should either be disbanded or be re-constituted; and be given a broad-based mandate to handle all matters of illicit drugs and not just the small matters of policing bangi and kumikumi dealers. 

Expecting NACADA as presently constituted to take on the gigantic task of shutting down the international drug trafficking chain is like deploying a chihuahua puppy to guard the Central Bank. 

And that is my say.