By Henry Owino | The AfricaPaper
Nairobi, KENYA – Political temperatures in Kenya are currently getting higher with just a few days to the D-day. Due to this, anxiety has developed and many who fear for their lives are busy relocating to other residential areas where they feel safer.
The people are heading to settlement areas with same tribe dominance as opposed to minority. Others are traveling from urban centers to upcountry where they are at least sure of a peaceful environment.
Call for Peace
Kenyans are calling for peace to prevail before, during, and after general elections slated for August 8, just a few days to go. However, all these movements are as result of anxiety caused by politicians’ utterances in political rallies, and campaigns fueled by social media networks.
The electoral body has on several occasions assured Kenyans that elections would be transparent, free, fair and credible. Nevertheless, the political class from both government and opposition believe that an Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) is taking sides.
Wafula Chebukati, IEBC chairman challenged Kenyans that as much as the buck stops with the electoral body in conducting free, fair and transparent polls, political leaders and electorates must also play their roles of ensuring that much needed peace and harmony prevails.
“Nearly 45 million Kenyans’ lives depend on us (IEBC) as the main stakeholder in this elections process. It is therefore up to the commission to work day and night, burning the midnight oil to ensure all loopholes of rigging are sealed and deliver convincing results,” Chebukati IEBC chairman said.
In efforts to quell the jitters and political heat in the country, others sectors such as religious organizations, civil society, youths, women groups, business community, media, individuals, and many other groups have taken it up upon themselves to preach and disseminate peace messages across the country.
Insults and Hate Speech
Adams Oloo, political analysts, and Political Science lecturer at the University of Nairobi said the efforts by other sectors to promote peace might not achieve so much. In elections where stakes are extremely high with political class inciting their supporters, insults and hate speech dominate rallies.
He however admitted it could avert possible anarchy in a highly polarized environment not where some cards are kept under the carpet or everyone says, it is a do or die.
Oloo argued that considering public trust in the institutions such as Courts is absolutely low, any small aberration can easily explode into violence. He said IEBC is the mediator to rely on before and during but not after elections.
“In churches, mosques, temples and shrines among other places considered sacred for purposes of worshiping God, the message is the same, “peaceful election.” I remember religious groups were the first to feel the tension and began to sing and preach peace ahead of 8 August General Elections,” Oloo stated.
Peace is Good, War is Bad
Currently, several women groups have joined the bandwagon of peace initiatives not because everyone else is on it or for the sake of it, but peace is seriously needed in this country. Women and children suffer most compared to men.
“Peace is good, war is bad and anybody who witnessed the kind of bloodletting in the wake of the disputed 2007/08 presidential elections would agree on these simple precepts being done to avert chaos,” Oloo recalled.
According to Joy Breda Mdimo, a Nairobi lawyer, no person of right mind would contemplate Kenya again descending to such primordial depths simply because their preferred presidential candidate misses the top seat. The party or tribe of the leader should not be applicable here but individual who will unite citizens.
“The efforts being made by various organizations are to ensure each and every individual stand together as one to ensure that fellow Kenyans never again pick up arms against one another,” Mdimo explains. May we dwell in unity, peace and liberty so that plenty to be found in citizens’ hearts,” she pleads.
Mdimo suggested that it would be senseless and foolish to fight on behalf of two privileged individuals as their mindless with atavistic cruelty. She stated elections are not a matter of life and death as perpetrated by the selfish leaders out to get or keep power for personal gains rather than public service.
Platforms for Incitements
Political campaign rallies have become platforms for incitements, hate speech and propaganda not called for. The country is balkanised, with communities being pitted against one another.
“It is unfortunate that as the D-day draws closer, campaign s are getting nastier with political leaders busy unleashing insults, provocation utterances that may trigger acrimony among communities who have lived together for years,” Mdimo observes.
Recently, the European Union (EU) Election and Monitoring team issued a statement warning of possible violence after the elections. They cited the utterances by politicians, the skewed campaigning landscape and the involvement of State agencies in the campaigns.
“We are indeed, being forewarned and must take appropriate measures to avert any possible anarchy which may results as our failure to address them due to selfish interests,” Mdimo explained.
This is why the country is currently flooded with peace messages, preached and disseminated everywhere to avert any possible poll chaos,” Mdimo added.
Rosemary Masitsa, Women Group chair-lady in Nairobi County said when the country turns into chaos, women and children bare all the brunt. The privileged wealthy politicians and ruling elites would fly their wives and children to secure places abroad while they are protected.
The Voter, and The Poor
Masitsa claimed their cars, and other property are insured and if damaged gets compensation by the insurance firms. So it is the common mwananchi – the voter, and the poor whose life is endangered by going into the streets to light bonfires, barricade roads and loot property amid anti-riot police reactions.
“To help quell the brewing tensions and calm down current political temperatures in the country ahead of elections, we women groups from hot spot areas in Nairobi County are reaching out to various communities in peace match to restrain from any acts of violence,” Masitsa explained.
The women are reminding Kenyans that peace is paramount and without it, no developments can be sustained. Again when skirmishes unfold, majority of those who suffer most are women and children. They become targets of rape, defilement, sodomy among other inhuman activities.
“We first had peace match in Nairobi Central Business District (CBD) then have spread to estates prone to violence like Kibera, Mathare, Dandora, Kawangware, Embakasi and Mukuru estates among other informal settlements with different ethnic communities,” Masitsa pointed out.
Guarantee Free, Fair Election
Above is for IEBC to remain impartial to guarantee free, fair elections where process are credible, the players are treated equally and with a level playing ground.
Anything to the contrary is a recipe for chaos no matter how many times civil society organizations, women’s groups, religious bodies, the media, National Cohesion and Integrity Commission (NCIC) among others preach peace to calm the heated political temperatures.
“As a woman, mother and wife, I understand what clashes are and that is why we are creating awareness to Nairobi residents that peace is paramount for our lifestyle to continue. We want this peace message to reach out to men, our husbands, sons, brothers or any male outside there to disown being used by politicians as agents of wars,” Masitsa explained. |TAP| Africa’s Newspaper of Record