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.