NCIC plans 'wall of shame' in fight against election violence
The National Cohesion and Integration Commission (NCIC) is set to introduce a “wall of shame” for politicians who breach codes of conduct governing elections and political parties.
This, the government agency said, is part of new declaration of principles and national values that aspirants and elected leaders in the country will be required to observe to stem hate speech and violence during elections.
NCIC chair Samuel Kobia said the “wall of shame” will name individuals who defy the codes of conduct as well as national values before, during and after the 2022 General Election.
Dr Kobia explained that as part of the new regulations, there will be a declaration of principles and national values by political leaders, an aspect broader than the present requirement to adhere to a code of conduct.
He spoke over the weekend during the unveiling of a multi-agency technical committee to steer holistic strategies aimed at promoting peace and cohesion ahead of the election.
The team will draw its membership from oganisations including the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC), the Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission (EACC) and the Office of the Registrar of Political Parties (ORPP).
It will focus on public education on peace and cohesion by devising conflict resolution mechanisms, overseeing citizen education programmes as well as actualising transformative and servant leadership in line with NCIC’s roadmap for peaceful elections.
Last December, the commission launched a roadmap aimed at eliminating the culture of violence and hate speech during elections, teaching the public to express dissent constructively and building trust.
Registrar of Political Parties Ms Ann Nderitu noted the need for agencies in electoral processes to collaborate for better management of the process.
Once implemented, she said, the joint initiative will act as one of the ways of bringing sanity to an ever murky environment filled with malpractices, particularly in the run up to elections.
“We need this initiative pegged on a legal foundation and for partner institutions to review their respective Acts of Parliament,” said Ms Nderitu.
“This team also needs to set appropriate timelines for its task, upon consultation with all partners so that it is in line with the electoral cycle and calendar,” she added.
Date : Sunday, January 24, 2021
Source : https://nation.africa/kenya/news/ncic-plans-wall-of-shame-in-fight-against-election-violence-3267636
The National Cohesion and Integration Commission has cautioned President Uhuru Kenyatta and Raila Odinga against bulldozing their way through a referendum without consensus.
In an interview with the Star, NCIC chairman Samuel Kobia said the foundation of the Building Bridges Initiative was to unite the country, hence a contested plebiscite will miss its cardinal objective.
Dr Kobia said the BBI process should be devoid of politics, noting that if the door for more debate on the report that has recommended constitutional amendments is shut, many Kenyans will feel left out.
"There was a stated intention that the BBI process will be inclusive and all Kenyans' views will be accommodated. Now it seems that is not going to be the case on the way to a referendum.
"If it is a contested referendum ,then we will not have achieved that stated objective of inclusivity and uniting Kenyans,” Kobia told the Star at his office in Nairobi.
"That is really where we need to challenge the BBI to be faithful to its integrity of building bridges that unite all Kenyans. I think there is still time for that to happen.
"We have seen many quarters where this is being said that there are still issues which if not addressed, then we will have a very contested referendum that could divide more than unite.”
The President and his handshake partner Raila have announced that there is no more time to allow Kenyans to make amendments to the document as those whose proposals will not be considered have the opportunity voice their concerns at the ballot.
According to Kobia, however, the proposal to expand the Executive by creating the positions of Prime Minister and two deputies will not address inclusivity. He said the positions are largely to benefit politicians and not common Kenyans.
Kobia said the best way to make Kenyans feel not excluded is when they are not discriminated against in terms of resources and opportunities.
“Our major concern really is not about the top echelon of power. Ours is how inclusive are we when it comes to the levels where you have the majority of Kenyans. Because by expanding the Executive, you might satisfy the political aspirations of individuals,” he said.
"As we know, even those in the Opposition are individuals. Of course they will tell their community that 'we are representing you,' but if history is anything go by, it doesn't translate into development in the areas, say where the President or the Deputy President, or Prime Minister come from, it does not. It will only benefit individuals, political aspirations and interests.”
He noted that what is bedevilling Kenya is the historical nature of politics weaved around tribalism so that those elected into office favour their communities.
Dr Kobia said employment opportunities, both at the national government and in the counties, should be on merit through a fair process that does not discriminate against certain communities.
"Kenyans are hardworking people, give them opportunities and they will run with it. The opportunities for the majority of Kenyans in terms of accessing resources should be given priority and that is being addressed by the BBI . This is one area the NCIC will fully participate in its implementation. It is part of the work we are doing,” he said.
He said the commission had to call out Deputy President William Ruto for the use of 'hustlers verses dynasties' narrative, saying it has the potential to spark class wars in the country.
He said his decision to caution Ruto and his troops was informed by what happened in Rwanda in 1994 where the Hutu and Tutsi fought in a devastating ethnic war.
“My concern was not really the usage of the term 'hustler'. The danger here is the dichotomy between hustlers and the dynasties. If you come up with such a dichotomy, then you become confrontational. And when you become confrontational, there is the likelihood of explosion. The NCIC would not like to see Kenyans go the route of Rwanda,” he said.
Kobia said while the intention of the narrative is to rally a certain section of society, those who feel downtrodden can explode. He called on politicians to come up with better ways to rally their supporters without setting up people against one another.
“How do we address this? Is it by the narrative of the hustlers vs dynasties? There are other ways in which we can address the issue of poverty in Kenya and in particular the impoverished. There is natural poverty. Some people have not been impoverished by government systems and structures while others have,” he said.
Kobia is set to celebrate one year since they were sworn in November last year. He said the commission has marked some hotspots as the country gears up for the BBI referendum and the 2022 election campaigns.
The areas include the Rift Valley; Coast, particularly Mombasa; Isiolo; Meru; Samburu; and Nairobi.
“These are some of the hotspots we say we need to watch very carefully. This is where we also try to invest our resources and time, especially civic education,” he said.
"As we head to 2022, we have hotspots. Kenyan politics is very ethnically based. And therefore, we know from our history where there are possible hotspots. These are places where we have a sizable presence of majority and minority groups and this generates a lot of heat during campaigns.”
He warned that hatemongers will be dealt with, revealing that a multi-agency team bringing together the NCIC, the Directorate of Criminal Investigations, the Director of Public Prosecutions, the Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission and the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission has been set up to deal with inciters.
Kobia said that since they took office, they have dealt with 74 cases of hate speech and ethnic contempt. Of the 74 cases, five involve current MPs and two governors (one from Coast and the other from Rift Valley).
He said 50 cases, including those involving senior government officials, are pending investigations. He dismissed claims that he takes instructions from the state to deal with politicians and private citizens who are critical of the Uhuru administration.
"We have no discrimination when discharging our mandate, whether ethnically or political persuasions. In terms of politicians, we have cases we are dealing with now, two governors and MPs from across the political divide. So we really have a cross-section. For us, we apply the NCI Act, which is what guides us. Every Kenyan, except the President, is a fair game for us,” he said.
NCIC Condemns Murang’a violence, calls for action against perpetrators
By Brian Otieno
National Cohesion and Integration Commission has condemned the violence that erupted at Kenol in Murang’a. The chaos that erupted moments before the arrival of Deputy President William Ruto for a church service led to the loss of two people.
The violence, which pitted pro-Tangatanga and pro-Kieleweke youth against each other, led to the loss of two lives. Speaking at the Whitesands Hotel in Mombasa, the commission chair Samuel Kobia expressed outrage at the rising political temperatures in the country.
Kobia noted there has been hatred, bigotry and political rhetoric that is slowly degenerating into violence over the past few months in the country. “The attacks and counter-attacks have created space for threats of violence to emerge,” said Kobia.
The commission is in Mombasa to develop a road map to the 2022 general elections for the commission. Speaking at the Whitesands Hotel, Kobia warned that the hustlers-dynasty dichotomy mirrored the narrative that preceded the Rwanda genocide.
“We are sickened by the blatant manifestations of hatred and intolerance, including by public figures. It is unfortunate that this is happening in the midst of a pandemic that has wreaked havoc on the lives and livelihoods of millions of Kenyans,” Kobia said.
Meanwhile, the Inspector-General of Police Hillary Mutyambai has ordered the arrest of Mmurang'a Woman Rep Sabina Chege, Kiharu MP Ndindi Nyoro, and Kandara MP Alice Wahome. The IG said the three legislators have involved in the incident.
He urged politicians to desist from engaging in inciting utterances and acts that might lead to violence. "Stern action will be taken against any person engaging in, planning and executing unlawful acts," Mutyambai said.
Ruto allies vowed to continue clinching to his side. "I feel very embarrassed to be a Kenyan and an MP of Jubilee Party," Nyoro said. Ruto said Jubilee insiders are behind the chaos. "Watu waliotuma watu kutuma teagas ni watu wanaofanya kazi chini yetu. (Those who sent these goons to unleash teargas on us were sent by leaders working under us.)," he said.
"The Jubilee administration is a product of kneeling and prayer before many alters in Kenya. It cannot be the same administration that is now going to teargas the church and disgrace our alters in Kenya," he said.
In Mombasa, the NCIC said the proliferation of criminal and organized groups must be arrested before it gets out of hand. “We not only call upon security forces to arrest and persecute the perpetrators, but would also like to remind Kenyans and politicians in general that this country has deep reverence for the Constitution and the rule of Law.
“Non-violence is fundamental to that right. We use the sad event in Murang’a to county to reaffirm the need to respect divergent views, and to remember the values of peace, national ethos, and cohesion that represent the people of Kenya.
Elusive Peace Process Finally Takes Shape In Marsabit
By Sebastian Miriti
A solution to elusive peace which has haunted Marsabit county residents for decades seems to be in the offing after communities through representatives started the journey of developing a road map towards that end.
The process which is being spearheaded by the National Cohesion and Integration Commission (NCIC) has brought on the table representatives of the Borana and Gabra communities to deliberate on ways of ending animosity between them.
NCIC Commissioners Dr Danvas Makori and Abdulaziz Farah said yesterday during the opening of a two-day induction workshop for the Marsabit peace process committee members that lack of peace has been too costly for the region and called on Marsabit residents to support the initiative.
Dr Makori said even development partners like the European Union (EU) were concerned over the fluid security situation in Marsabit and urged the pastoralist communities to shun tribal and clan hatred for improved standards of living.
The commissioner added that the conflict pitting the two communities had cost the county much in terms of lives and development but expressed optimism for a solution to the problem after leaders from the ethnic groups committed to the peace process.
Dr Makori disclosed that NCIC had embarked on a six-month arrangement in which a sustained effort to build trust and dependence among the residents would be undertaken.
According to Mr. Abdulaziz, the frequent conflicts and clashes over issues that were not yet clear between the two had painted the county in bad light leading to slow development and poor standards of living.
He condemned the senseless killings in attacks and revenge attacks and reminded residents that the solution to the problem which has not only impended on growth but scared away investors rests in their hands.
The commissioner welcomed the political truce reached between top leaders in the county who include Governor Mohamud Ali and Treasury cabinet secretary Ukur Yattani.
“I am calling on members of this committee to realize that they are the trusted ambassadors of peace in the county,” said Abdulaziz adding that every effort would be applied to ensure the team gets it right this time.
Noting that water shortage was the main concern for Marsabit County residents, Abdulaziz regretted that the multi-million Badassa dam projects had stalled because local leaders lacked unity for self-political gain.
He said that communities have been at war with each other hence compromising the much-desired environment for investment and development.
The peace building process is also being supported by Marsabit interfaith council and local NGOs that include Kivulini Trust and the Drylands Learning and Capacity Building Initiative.
Elusive Peace Process Finally Takes Shape in Marsabit https://www.kenyanews.go.ke/elusive-peace-process-finally-takes-shape-in-marsabit/
Hold peaceful campaigns or face the law, politicians told
By Martim Ombima
A member of the National Cohesion and Integration Commission has advised politicians to hold peaceful campaigns or face the wrath of the law. Commissioner Dorcas Kedogo warned against hateful utterances by some lawmakers that could bring problems in the country.
Hold peaceful campaigns or face the law, politicians told https://www.the-star.co.ke/counties/western/2020-09-22-hold-peaceful-campaigns-or-face-the-law-politicians-told/ via @thestarkenya
HOLD PEACEFUL CAMPAIGNS OR FACE THE LAW-POLITICIANS TOLD
By Martin Ombima & Ombima Patrick
A member of the National Cohesion and Integration Commission has advised politicians to hold peaceful campaigns or face the wrath of the law. Commissioner Dorcas Kedogo warned against hateful utterances by some lawmakers that could bring problems in the country.
Speaking at Wazivi Pentecostal Church at Lugaga wa Muluma ward in Vihiga sub-county, Kedogo said the commission would not allow reckless politicians to ruin Kenya. "As a commission, we won't give room for that anyway," she said. "For any wrong and careless utterances we shall be at your neck and you will face the full force of the law as an individual making those reckless statements."
She said the NCIC is currently working with the DCI and other law enforcement agencies to ensure all lawmakers abide by the law. "You have seen Johana Ng'eno and Oscar Sudi behind the bars and that's the way we are moving, with no excuses," she said.
Kedogo said Kenya rumbles every time elections are near, with some leaders profiling communities. She urged Kenyans not to allow the political class to mislead them. "We urge the political class countrywide to conduct their activities peacefully," Kedogo warned.
World Peace Day: NCIC warns of rising political tensions
BY Kevin Cheruiyot
The National Cohesion and Integration Commission has urged politicians and leaders to lead championing for peace in the country. NCIC chairperson Samuel Kobia said on Monday during the World’s International Day of Peace that the developments at the political front as troubling. “The incitement and hate speech spewed by both leaders and some of their followers across the country is a threat to our fragile social cohesion fabric,” Kobia said. “We cannot allow our country to slide back to the ugly scenario that led to the 2007/2008 PEV.”
The NCIC chair has also said the country should cultivate a culture of peace to replace the devastating culture of violence, respect for the law, and tolerance for divergent opinions. “A polarised country is a road for endless mistrust, hostility, and economic retrogression. A diverted people will only aggravate our existing predicaments and relegate us to a shameful status of extreme intolerance and mockery,” he said. The theme for this year is ‘shaping peace together’. The commission marked the day in Nairobi, Narok, Nandi, Kakamega, Mandera and Elgeyo Marakwet counties.
Interior CS Fred Matiangi, environment CS Keriako Tobiko and Land CS Farida Karoney held discussions with delegates from the Ogiek and Kipsigis communities residing in Eastern Mau Forest Block. Matiang'i said the meeting was a directive from President Uhuru Kenyatta, with the aim of resolving the conflict witnessed in the area.
In a similar event, five governors from the Lake Region Economic Bloc signed a peace accord binding communities from their counties from engaging in violence. The leaders want residents from respective counties to be encouraged to engage more in economic and social affairs among themselves to discourage the breaking of the law. Governors Wycliffe Oparanya (Kakamega), Stephen Sang (Nandi), Wilbur Otichilo (Vihiga), Paul Chepkwony (Kericho) and Mathew Owili (Kisumu deputy governor).
Leaders enter peace deal to end clashes
BY Tom Matoke and Onyango K’onyango
The peace initiative in the Western region received a shot in the arm after five counties signed a peace accord to end incessant boundary disputes.
During the signing ceremony yesterday at Tabolwa Secondary in Nandi County, governors under the Lake Region Economic Bloc (LREB) agreed to end the tribal violence largely caused by land conflicts. Nandi, Kakamega, Kericho, Kisumu and Vihiga, which have been witnessing frequent boundary wrangles, promised to promote integration and cohesion.
They, however, said they would not be able to allocate funds received from the National Treasury towards ensuring communities in the 14 counties maintain peace. Led by the bloc's chairman Wycliffe Oparanya, the county bosses said administrative boundaries are not meant to divide people but bring services closer to people. “All the 14 governors from LREB and the elders do not support any kind of violence and animal theft and never again would a Kenyan die due to tribal violence due to land conflict and through political incitement," said Mr Oparanya, who is also the Council of Governors chairman.
The county bosses also appointed elders from Nandi, Kisumu, Kakamega, Kericho and Vihiga to monitor the progress of the accord and review it monthly. "We must remain committed to the peace accord we have signed today... as elected leaders, we must come together after four months to review them. Those elders who we have been appointed must sit every month to review them," said Mr Oparanya. The Kakamega governor noted tribal violence sparked by “small differences such as cattle theft” had led to loss of lives.
Governor Paul Chepkwony said it was unfortunate that when the rest of the country was focusing on how to boost economic growth, some communities in the region were still fighting over stolen animals. “Both Kericho and Nandi are cosmopolitan counties and it is unfortunate to see communities fight one another over things which do not boost economic growth and as leaders we will not support violence," he said.
The governors also opened a joint market to serve residents of Nandi and Kakamega counties. They called for intermarriage among the communities to eliminate ethnic clashes.
Nandi Governor Stephen Sang said his county’s growth had stagnated due to boundary disputes. “Communities in the lake region and those from the North Rift have agreed to live in harmony since land conflict does not add value to taxpayers," he said.
Kisumu Deputy Governor Mathew Owili said he was optimistic that the peace accord would end the ethnic clashes. “Our counties have suffered a lot and lost resources due to tribal violence. We are optimistic that after today’s occasion, our people will never fight each other again,” said Dr Owili. Governor Wilber Ottichillo said he was hopeful the peace agreement would end Vihiga County’s long-standing boundary disputes with Nandi at Gambogi market and with Kisumu County in Maseno.
National Cohesion and Integration Commission (NCIC) chairman Samuel Kobia urged MPs to give the agency more powers to prosecute hate mongers. “The NCIC Act should be reviewed so that the commission can have powers to prosecute... in most cases we are being told that NCIC is toothless... we will continue to reconcile even those who have been accused of incitement,” said Mr Kobia. He urged LREB counties to nurture the peace accord.
GOVERNORS VOW TO END TRIBAL CLASHES
By Edward Kosut
Four county chiefs in the Lake Region Economic Bloc have resolved to end cross-boundary hostilities fuelled by land and political differences. During Monday's International Peace Day celebrations, the leaders from Nandi, Vihiga, Kericho and Kakamega regretted that the clashes had led to unnecessary loss of life and property.
At the ceremony held in Tabolwa, Nandi County, Kakamega Governor Wycliffe Oparanya and his counterparts Stephen Sang (Nandi), Wilber Ottichilo (Vihiga), Paul Chepkwony (Kericho) and Kisumu deputy Governor Mathews Owili agreed to foster peace. The five resolved to open up economic opportunities in the region to promote social integration especially along Kakamega-Nandi and Kisumu-Kericho borders, which have in the past been centres of clashes.
“This will ensure an end to our trivial conflicts along shared boundaries that have been elicited by politics and boundary fights for years," said Oparanya. He noted that along the common boundaries, residents living in sections including Gambogi, Kiboswa, Tabolwa, Kamung'ei in Nandi and Muhoroni in Kericho and Kisumu, have often clashed over resources.
Last week, one person was killed while four others were injured following fresh clashes along the Kisumu-Kericho border. Four months ago, two people were killed and several others injured along the Nandi and Kakamega border following a land dispute. Through the National Cohesion and Integration Commission, the inter-community peace committee facilitated the deliberation made to enhance coexistence among the groups. Nandi County Commissioner Geoffrey Omoding warned politicians against fanning tribal clashes.
OVER 4000 CRUDE WEAPONS USED IN ETHNIC CLASHES SET ABLAZE
BY Robert Kiplagat
Narok County Security committee has set ablaze about 6,000 quivers, arrows, bows and spears recovered in the volatile Narok South Sub-County to mark the International Peace Day. The 5,700 crude weapons include 1600 bows, 4,100 arrows and 13 spears confiscated following the deadly ethnic conflicts between the Kipsigis and Maasai communities.
The event was attended by legislators from the Senate and National Assembly committee as well as members of the National Cohesion and Equal Opportunity as well as the National Cohesion and Integration Committee (NCIC) who called for lasting peace. The senators led by chairs of the committees Naomi Siyonga and her National Assembly counterpart Charles Were (Kasipul Kapondo) called for equity in resources and job opportunities as a way of creating permanent peace.
Meanwhile, Bomet Senator Christopher Lang'at accused the government of engaging in double standards in allocating title deeds. "For the country to have lasting peace the government must tell its citizens the truth. It is sad that one government issues title deeds then the next regime nullifies the same. There ought to be consistency," he said. Lang'at also called on the NCIC to investigate state appointments claiming that out of more than 400 top appointments one community takes the lion's share at the expense of the other 42 communities.
Were echoed Lang'ats sentiments, saying the government should be fair to all in carrying out evictions in the country. "If some people encroached into government forest let evictions be done without sparing the "big fish". If the government does that then it creates a recipe for conflict," he said.
NCIC commissioner Sam Kona also called for political tolerance among Kenyans ahead of the 2022 General Election. He also asked legislators to come up with a law that will ensure politicians found inciting residents are barred from seeking elective posts during elections. "To end incitement once and for all there must be a law that ensures punishment for hatemongers goes beyond the courts. There should be a law that deters them from getting elected," Kona said.
Bonfire of 5,713 bows, arrows and spears in Narok South
Bonfire of 5,713 bows, arrows and spears in Narok South https://www.the-star.co.ke/counties/rift-valley/2020-09-22-bonfire-of-5713-bows-arrows-and-spears-in-narok-south/ via @thestarkenya
By Kiplagat Kirui
The government destroyed 5,713 bows, arrows and spears in a bonfire on Monday to help restore peace in Narok South Sub-county. The destruction was the climax of International Peace Day observations in Oleshapani area. It's illegal to carry crude weapons in public and arms holders risk arrest and prosecution. The weapons were surrendered by the Kipsigis and Maasai communities during the September month of countrywide amnesty for turning in weapons.
The observations were led by Narok county commissioner Evans Achoki. Present were MPs and senators, members of the National Cohesion and Integration Commission and Equal Opportunity committee who promoted peace between the often-warring communities. Also present were Narok South legislator Korei ole Lemein, NCIC commissioner Sam Kona and Narok Public Service Management chief officer Linus Nairimo. “Burning these weapons is a clear indication that peace is returning and must be maintained," Achoki said.
He cautioned people against inciting the two communities against each other, saying they will be arrested. Lemein urged youths not to be exploited by politicians to cause violence but instead engage in meaningful projects to improve their livelihoods. “Youths should take advantage of technical institutes available by enrolling in courses to help them become self-sufficient. The government is ready to pay Sh30, 000 for everyone enrolled," the MP said.
Narok Governor Samuel Tunai, in a speech read by Nirimo, said his administration is working with the county commissioner to pursue and sustain peace between Narok County and its neighbours.
“We will be united in our common interests. We want unity, peace, security and economic prosperity by restoring the legacy of brotherhood. It's never worth spilling the blood of any human being through conflicts that can be resolved when we work together," Tunai said. He called on Kenyans to forget tribal quarrels, which exhaust them and cause them to be despised locally and internationally. “Let us have faith in one another and renew our beliefs in family, friends, faith and future. We must not allow ourselves to be consumed by our petty differences, or to be misguided to think violence can help us resolve any differences,” the governor said.
NCIC commissioner Kona called for political tolerance ahead of the 2022 polls. He said MPs should draft a law ensuring politicians who incite residents are barred from seeking election.
Why is NCIC ineffective in dealing with hatemongers?
Daily Nation Saturday August 08 2020
This week, Rev Samuel Kobia, chairman of the National Cohesion and Integration Commission, responds to your questions
Prosecuting hate speech, it seems, is very difficult considering that NCIC has to date not had a single conviction from the many cases that have gone to court. This has emboldened politicians and their supporters to continue spewing hate as they seek votes. What makes hate speech difficult to prosecute? Joylene Amutabi, Kapenguria
The commission has had four convictions in cases of hate speech and ethnic contempt. Those convicted are Allan Wadi (Nairobi court), Fedelis Motwovita (Kithimani court), Hassan Abdi Noor (Machakos court) and Gichiri Ndua (Nairobi court). Nonetheless, there are challenges including interference of witnesses by suspects, in some cases hostility of the witnesses, technicalities of digital evidence and its admissibility in courts.
However, we have developed a handbook on investigation and prosecution of hate speech, which has been used to enhance the capacity of investigators and prosecutors across the country. It is important to note that the commission’s mandate is to investigate cases of hate speech while the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions handles prosecution.
Notably, over 15 cases have been settled through conciliation, as mandated by the NCI Act 2008. The commission has continued to use various ways in the fight against hatemongers including sensitisation where members of the political class and the public in general are informed of the negative effects of hate mongering to the society and economy in general.
In partnership with the National Police Service, we have equipped over 2,000 police officers across the country with monitoring gadgets that include body-worn cameras and camcorders. The commission continues to monitor the social media space, political rallies and social gatherings to identify hate mongers.
Clashes over land are a major hindrance to the peace, love and unity we all desire. How are you working with the National Land Commission (NLC) and other agencies to resolve such grievances? Gabriel Changwony, Kitale
The commission has established linkages with the NLC, Ministry of Lands and the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission in its endeavour to address the root causes of such conflicts. The process is slow but rather steady. We remain optimistic that some results will be realised in due cause.
We have elections in the next two years. Why is NCIC ineffective in taking action on hate speech, particularly against politicians? Raphael Obonyo, Nairobi
The commission has put in place elaborate measures to deliver peaceful elections in 2022. These include the review of NCI Act 2008 to strengthen the commission’s work.
The commission, together with other partners, has reactivated the Uwiano Platform for Peace to co-ordinate electoral-violence reduction initiatives. Uwiano Platform for Peace remains a critical vehicle for managing electoral violence in the country.
In addition, the commission is working closely with parliamentary committees to enhance peace. We will continue to train police investigators as well as sensitise members of the political class and political parties on the need to uphold peaceful processes.
The creation of NCIC was to partly implement the Agenda Four items of the National Accord following the 2007/2008 post-election violence. To what extent would you say that the commission has fulfilled its mandate? Brian Irungu, Nairobi
The task of consolidating national cohesion in Kenya is a momentous one. This is because changing attitudes, mindsets and thinking is not an event but a process. Nevertheless, the commission has made major strides in this area for the past 10 years.
It has invested a lot in building the capacity of Kenyans to appreciate each other and their own country, to embrace constructive ways of resolving the inevitable conflicts that arise between communities, to demand for inclusive political representation and to practice values that engender national unity. Indeed, I say without the fear of contradiction, that today Kenya is much better off than it was in 2007/2008.
Ethnic inequalities pose a huge challenge to national cohesion. What are you doing to ensure ethnic equality and justice in civil service? Raphael Obonyo, Nairobi
The commission has advised government on how these ethnic disparities can be addressed within the civil service through the following ways: First, entrench fair and inclusive recruitment policies.
The commission has lobbied the adoption of fair and inclusive employment policies in public institutions aimed at reducing discrimination on ethnic, racial and religious grounds by defining specific strategies to enhance inclusion of minority groups within the workplace. Fourteen public universities and 22 State corporations have adopted these policies.
Second, we provide evidence in court cases. Being the only accurate database on ethnic composition within the public service, the commission has supported ethnic inequality cases that have been brought forth by citizens against public institutions that have flouted the provisions of the law.
A case against Migori County benefited from the commission’s dataset. Third, compliance notices. The commission issues compliance notices to all institutions that contravene the law, that is, Section 7(2) of the NCI Act and Section 65 of the County Government Act. And fourth, fame and shame.
The commission recognises and awards public establishments that comply with Section 7 of the National Cohesion and Integration Act. On the other hand, it publishes a list of the non-compliant institutions on its website. These institutions are also submitted to the parliamentary committees on national cohesion.
There have been cases of some musicians producing songs containing hate speech but despite them being taken to court, their items are still accessible on the Internet. Is it possible for your commission to work with Internet service providers to pull down these pieces even as you pursue the court route? Dickson Murimi, Kirinyaga
The commission is only mandated to investigate if the song or any other hateful comment on social media has violated the NCI Act 2008. After obtaining credible evidence and witnesses to prove the case beyond reasonable doubt, the commission compiles a file with recommendations to the Director of Public Prosecutions for advice. The hateful comments or song can only be pulled down if the case has met the threshold after a full hearing before a court of law, suspect found guilty and convicted.
Your commission has been running 'Peace clubs' in learning institutions, which have been very instrumental in mentoring the young people to cultivate virtues towards patriotism and humanity. With the closure of these institutions, has your commission seen it fit to reach out to the patrons of these clubs to enable them engage their members virtually? Komen Moris, Eldoret
Amani Clubs in institutions is a long-term programme started by NCIC and the Ministry of Education in 2014. The aim of Amani Clubs is to promote good relations, harmony and peaceful co-existence among students themselves and between schools and their neighbouring communities.
So far, over 1,500 clubs have been established across the country. To address the challenges posed by Covid-19, the commission and the Amani Clubs National leadership have established WhatsApp platforms at national, county and sub-county levels.
The WhatsApp platforms are the forums through which the patrons, who are teachers in charge of Amani Clubs, continue to use to promote peace and cohesion related matters.
In addition, the commission has established an interactive Amani Club web portal that has content on Amani Clubs and offers an excellent platform for patrons and teachers to engage and interact on issues of peace, cohesion and integration.
NCIC has actively been engaged in peace and reconciliation efforts in Nakuru County that birthed the Peace Accord of 2012. What do you have to say about the current on and off hostilities between local communities that have resulted in deaths and destruction of properties? Dan Murugu, Nakuru
The current ethnic conflict and animosity is unfortunate. Our engagement in 2012 was fruitful. For instance, the 2013 General Election in the county was peaceful. There was significant reduction in animosity between the communities.
The Peace Accord was fully embraced and implemented by the communities. It was a locally-owned and driven peace and reconciliation process. However, the current violent conflict in some parts of Nakuru County has elicited concern not only to the commission but also to all the stakeholders.
Therefore, in July 2020, we convened a peace dialogue meeting with various stakeholders, including the affected communities, who agreed to an immediate ceasefire and end to the conflict. We shall continue to work closely with other stakeholders to ensure peace and calmness is restored in the region.
Covid-19 pandemic has brought about untold challenges, including the growing stigma associated with the virus. How can NCIC intervene and help communities accommodate those who have recovered from the virus? Kate Musyimi, Kitengela
Stigmatisation of Covid-19 positive people has become disturbingly common. According to the Health Digest, stigmatisation and fear of quarantine are hindering Kenya’s fight against the virus.
The greatness of a cohesive society, such as Kenya wishes to become, is judged by the way it treats the most vulnerable of its citizens – among whom are those stigmatised on account of being Covid-19 positive. There are at least three ways of intervening to alleviate the situation.
First is awareness-building for the general public, which should be carried out in a concerted manner under the leadership and co-ordination of the Ministry of Health. Second is to prepare communities and families for supporting the re-integration of Covid-19 recovered patients.
Community leaders, including Nyumba Kumi, religious leaders and community-based organisations, are best placed to undertake such a responsibility. Third is the provision of psychological support to the victims of social stigma. This is the “soft” side of the war on Covid-19. For us to win the war, all citizens must contribute.
What policy initiatives is the commission implementing that could lead to a peaceful, harmonious and integrated Kenyan society? Andrew Maranga Ratemo, Nairobi
The commission uses the 4Rs framework to advocate for policy interventions. These are redistribution, recognition, representation and reconciliation. NCIC believes that all policies should be evidence-based.
Redistribution covers all policies surrounding the sharing of public resources by county and national governments, which must be done equitably.
Recognition focuses on policies that enhance the inclusion of all ethnic, racial and religious groups in Kenya.
The commission acknowledges that a shared vision for Kenya will be established once all groups are recognised. The commission seeks the recognition of minority communities such as the Makonde as well as the inclusion of others such as the Nubi and Kuria in social economic processes.
Representation covers policies that focus on political representation of all citizen groups. It also ensures the elimination of discrimination on the basis of ethnicity, race, religion and social origin.
Reconciliation focuses on policies that seek to enhance community and national healing. This includes an early warning and rapid response framework that can churn out conflict warning before violence breaks out.
Compiled by Walter Menya
My Covid-19 resilience is national resilience for national cohesion
Daily Nation MONDAY AUGUST 03 2020
As our nation struggles to level the Covid-19 statistics and to “choose between right and right” as our President rightly
stated in his recent national address, most of us also struggle to level areas that the pandemic has disrupted: Our sense
of calm, orientation, mental health, parenting, worship, income, social networks, life plans, travel,
Resilience is the ability and capability to recover quickly from difficulties and traumatic incidents that unexpectedly smash upon us, leaving some dead, others broke and many thoroughly shaken. If we break down under the burden of Covid-19, Kenya will also disintegrate. Many small cracks eventually become craters.
Just as my hustle and your hustle is Kenya’s hustle, so are my resilience and yours Kenya’s resilience. This builds up Kenya’s wellness, enhances national cohesion.
Resilience begins with determination to obey prevention modalities as set up by the government, then working hard with determination to survive the pandemic and encouraging others to do the same.
The other day, I watched several episodes of the Boston Marathon. This world-famous race attracts over 30,000 runners. Last year, there were 30,234 participants, and Kenya, a small nation ranked 48th in the world in size and 29th in population, came first with Lawrence Cherono winning and Kenneth Kipkemoi third.
Big nations were also represented. We have won that race many times and again and again, as we bring home the medals, the world keeps asking: Why Kenya?
Kenya is great, not just in athletics, but in many other areas. I focus on athletics to emphasise that, each of these winners brings personal qualities of focus, discipline, commitment, a victor mindset, devotion, persistence and belongingness — values consistently practised, step by step, one day at a time, mostly privately, with the support of family and friends and a proud community that celebrates every victory as theirs.
How does one explain this kind of persistence, for example, of Eliud Kipchoge, who won the Berlin Marathon in 2015 on bleeding blistered feet? The insoles of his shoes reportedly fell out but he chose to finish the race!
National cohesion is built on personal discipline, commitment, tenacity, focus and persistence that makes every Kenyan think “winner”. My win and my gain is my nation’s. As I obey Covid-19 guidelines, I’m protected; so is my family and nation. Somebody said: “We can rebuild the economy after Covid-19, but we cannot raise the dead.”
It’s sad to see leaders breaking the Covid-19 social distancing requirement. Besides Covid-19, it’s also sad to witness wastage or theft of national resources by entrusted caretakers.
The objective of Vision 2030 is a “newly industrialising, middle-income country providing a high quality of life to all its citizens by 2030 in a clean and secure environment.” That depends on resilience.
We dare not sacrifice Kenyan’s greatness or lose ground through careless living and lackadaisical talk. Like the mighty athletes, winning over Covid-19 and beyond needs the commitment of taking one step at a time, even on bleeding feet, with the eyes on one goal — my resilience, national resilience, national cohesion and Kenya’s greatness. A wonderful lady — @Lucythejewel — recently tweeted: “Hii Kenya, mimi sihami (I won’t leave Kenya).” My Tweet rejoinder: “Mimi pia, Kenya sihami (Me too).”
Where else? This is my Kenya!
We must now combat corona social stigma
By SAMUEL KOBIA
June 15th 2020
Stigma is a Greek word that originally referred to a type of marking or tattoo that was cut or burned into the skin of criminals, slaves or traitors in order to visibly identify them as blemished or morally polluted persons.
These individuals were to be avoided, particularly in public places. The purpose of stigmatisation then was to make the victim stand out physically in such a way as to be seen from a distance.
There are different forms of social stigmas. The most common have to do with culture, gender, race, illness and disease. Those who have been stigmatised usually feel different and devalued.
Regarding the history of stigma and disease, leprosy most readily comes to mind, as in virtually all societies, lepers were stigmatised.
In ancient Palestine and in Europe, during the Middle Ages, lepers were forced to carry a bell to warn people of their proximity, and they even walked on a particular side of the road. Similar attitudes and treatment of lepers were common in Africa as well.
In more recent times, people living with HIV have been subjected to stigma, and to its socially and psychologically devastating effects such as discrimination and profiling. It took a lot of advocacy and education to stem the stigmatisation of HIV positive people.
Today, the stigmatisation of people with Covid-19 has become disturbingly common. According to the Health Digest, stigmatisaton and fear of quarantine are hindering Kenya’s fight against the virus.
Many Kenyans who have recovered from Covid-19 are subjected to discrimination. On April 28, during the daily news briefing on Covid-19, Chief Administrative Secretary in the Ministry of Health Mercy Mwangangi expressed frustration with the trend.
“We are disturbed that reintegration has not been easy for these people,” she said.
For fear of stigma associated with being quarantined, many Kenyans avoid or hesitate to be tested. Once people get to know that one has been quarantined, the most likely assumption is that they have Covid-19 and therefore must be avoided. Worse still is when one has been hospitalised.
Cases have been reported about the way communities relate to their neighbours who return after hospitalisation. The Health ministry has shared cases such as the one of a recovered male patient who “painfully narrated his ordeal on how he was subjected to shame upon recovery by members of his community”. There is also the case of a woman in Nakuru, whose social rejection by even her family members made her contemplate suicide.
Social stigma associated with a disease usually arises from lack of awareness, lack of education and lack of correct perceptions about the nature and implications of the disease in question.
A novel disease such as Covid-19 is the subject of conspiracy theories and disinformation to the extent that the WHO Director-General Tedros Ghebreyesus has called it an “infodemic”. In the age of social media, self-appointed pundits are busy peddling information on Covid-19 that is forwarded across the globe, and wrongly consumed by many as gospel truth.
While information might at face value appear innocent, it can nevertheless be devastating when it becomes a basis for stigmatisation. It takes very long for a stigmatised person to overcome memories of hurt, rejection, humiliation and indignation. This is because the hurt suffered hits at the very core of the being of the victim. It affects their identity and self-image, even leading to self-rejection and self-hate. And when stigma is internalised, the victim takes in the negative ideas and stereotypes and starts to apply them to themselves.
The greatness of a cohesive society, such as Kenya wishes to become, is judged by the way it treats the most vulnerable of its citizens – including those stigmatised over Covid-19.
There are at least three ways of intervening to alleviate the situation. First is awareness-building for the general public, which should be carried out in a concerted manner under the leadership and coordination of the Ministry of Health.
Second is to prepare communities and families for the reintegration of recovered Covid-19 patients. Community leaders, including Nyumba Kumi, religious leaders and community-based organisations, are best placed to do that. They may also constitute a community of support and accompany the recovered patients as well as individuals returning from quarantine.
Third, is the provision of psychological support to the victims of social stigma. This is the “soft” side of the war on Covid-19. For us to win the war, all citizens must contribute. Those harmed during the process need to be treated, and then to return so as to continue the fight once they are whole again.
Rev Kobia is the Chairman of NCIC
Let us safeguard human dignity even when fighting coronavirus
All human beings come with their own worth; that is why it is vital to recognise and safeguard the dignity of all human beings, especially the weaker ones. It is unacceptable to treat them as instruments for furthering selfish interests.
Affirming the dignity of others has nothing to do with their qualities or accomplishments, which also means their dignity cannot be taken away. But it can — and often is — compromised, violated and undermined.
Longing for dignity remains a basic feeling in all of us. And when our dignity is trampled upon, the basic instinct is to re-assert and reclaim it.
That is what the African people have done in their struggles against slavery, colonialism, neocolonialism, apartheid and other forms of racism.
At his trial in 1964, Nelson Mandela told the judge he cherished the ideal of living “in dignity and freedom”, an ideal he hoped to live and to achieve, “but if need be, my Lord, it is an ideal for which I am prepared to die”.
Those words of Mandela, the icon of modern struggles for freedom, peace and human rights, best capture the power of dignity and courage.
The freedom fighters who liberated Kenya from the yoke of British colonialism would identify with Mandela’s aspirations.
They were prepared to lay down their lives for the sake of freedom, justice and prosperity. In a word, to reclaim their — and all Kenyans’ — dignity. And they were so committed to that ideal that many paid the ultimate price.
The champions of the ‘Second Liberation’ picked up that mantle in the 1970s and ’80s, when the one-party dictatorship trampled upon Kenyans’ dignity.
Human dignity is violated and undermined not only by human beings and their unjust structures and systems, social phenomena, such as the coronavirus, too, and poverty.
But it is not these phenomena that are morally repugnant but rather the abhorrent treatment ordinary people are subjected to by the authorities.
What happened on the first evening of the curfew, on March 27, will for a long time remain a defining moment in the handling of the Covid-19 pandemic in Kenya.
The police brutality that left at least six people dead during the first 10 days of the dusk-to-dawn curfew is simply unacceptable.
Scenes in Mombasa showing the kicking and clubbing of women and men who were already lying on the ground is more the behaviour of sadists than trained security personnel entrusted with authority over the people.
We saw similar behaviour on Thika Superhighway, where a police officer continued clubbing a driver who had surrendered.
UNITY OF PURPOSE
But on the same night we also witnessed a policewoman carrying the bag of a mother who had a baby as she escorted them home. That was a rare deed deserving of an award.
Covid-19 has presented us with a rare opportunity to invoke the much-talked about (but little-practised) unity of purpose. Kenyans of all walks of life ought to come together in respecting the safety guidelines.
Social cohesion is an imperative if we are to triumph over Covid-19. Mutual trust, respect, caring, empathy, honesty and commitment are key elements that hold a society together.
But condescending attitudes towards the less fortunate by the high and mighty erode the social fabric, creating social divisions.
When the lowly are subjected to assault by the police or talked down to by state officers, mutual trust is undermined and dignity violated. Socioeconomic division in the common struggle is the last thing Kenya needs.
We need what President Uhuru Kenyatta said in his 2016 Jamhuri Day speech: “Our fathers and mothers faced an empire that could import soldiers by the thousands and guns by the tonne. And yet because our fathers and mothers were united, not even the might of this empire could keep them in bondage.”
“We know all too well what happened the last time we failed to treat each other as one family ... Come, and let us be our brother’s keeper.”
That is what safeguarding the dignity of all means when a people are at war — with a pandemic is no respecter of class, gender, race or ethnicity.
Social cohesion critical in these perilous times
By MIKE ELDON
I’m glad I’m not President Uhuru Kenyatta, nor CSs Mutahi Kagwe and Fred Matiang’i, nor Governor Hassan Joho and others who have the awesome responsibility of communicating with the rest of us in ways that get us to behave responsibly during the Covid-19 crisis. Like leaders everywhere in the world they must act neither too quickly nor too slowly, not too harshly and not too weakly. But what is the right speed? What is the right style?
It would be much easier if our people were as disciplined and well off as those of Singapore or South Korea, Germany or New Zealand. But we are who we are, with over ten million of us packed together in urban slums and living hand to mouth; and with so many others in remote rural and arid areas where there is limited access to the media, never mind the Internet.
The leaders I have mentioned would be doing well in the countries I have listed. But how much harder it is to be effective here, where even the middle class have been finding it hard to do and not do what is being called for.
We must sympathise with the frustrations of our rationally-driven leaders, who see that all they get is pushback and resentment when they tell us to wear masks and stay home and suchlike.
Whether due to intolerably cramped living conditions and poverty, or as a result of cultural norms of community togetherness, much of what we are seeing is a struggle between the stern admonitions of our leaders and the disconnected behaviour of our citizens.
Understandably, the government’s focus has been on organising our under-prepared healthcare system to cater for the sudden onset of the pandemic, while simultaneously worrying about the shattering effects on our economy. The added dilemma is that the greater concern there is for protecting lives, the greater the negative impact on livelihoods.
What we are beginning to see though is that alongside managing these “hard” issues, increased attention must be paid to the complementary “soft” emotional and behavioural ones. So should some leaders be playing “bad cop” while others play “good cop”? Should each leader be skilled enough to combine the two roles into one, knowing when and how to switch?
It is clear that the big stick of assertively managed lockdowns must be wielded, for merely enticing us with the reward of longer term health benefits if we do what we are being told is way beyond the time horizon of most. But if that’s not working, then what?
Surely we need not rely only on top-down tough messages from smart podiums. It is up to many more of us to communicate within our communities, from the family level upwards, each of us finding our own way to make a difference.
Leaders and people of influence from all sectors – religious, private sector, NGOs, academia, trade unions, musicians and other artists, sportspeople and of course the media – must contribute to passing both the tough and the empathetic messages, complementing and reinforcing what we are hearing from the top.
There is as great a need for this kind of “soft” engagement as there is for the distribution of food, Personal Protective Equipment and other essentials to the most vulnerable. Many are already acting with great generosity, in both the hard and the soft areas, and the more the merrier.
Let me briefly draw attention to the Social Cohesion Committee that has recently been formed by the National Cohesion and Integration Commission (NCIC), within whose mandate such an initiative falls naturally.
The NCIC Social Cohesion Committee (of which I am part) is developing new ways, with musicians and others, to pass messages that more people can respond to positively. It is also organising for psychosocial support to be made available to both the most vulnerable – children and others in emotional distress – and to doctors and nurses.
By listening as much as by telling we can begin bringing Kenyans together, so that the poor do not feel this Covid-19 threat merely threatens the urban rich. And it is by complementing the angry headteacher with the empathetic counsellor that we can avoid future social strife.
So please join this movement for social cohesion. Whoever you are, at whatever level
Amani clubs give students tips on peaceful coexistence
Three issues dominated the Kwale County Amani Clubs Forum last Friday: Reducing youth’s involvement in violence by teaching them skills, their role in peace-building, and in combating violent extremism.
Other issues discussed, included bullying in school, indiscipline, drug abuse and how students can participate in community service. The students’ conference provided a forum for honest and open debate on diverse issues in order to build trust and dispel stereotypes.
They used debates, tree planting, and drama to convey topical peace messages during the event organised at Kwale High School by the National Cohesion and Integration Commission (NCIC). The peace clubs in in Kwale have helped to curb bullying, indiscipline and radicalisation in schools, local officials say.
“Since the establishment of Amani clubs in the county, we have been carrying out activities with the sole aim of achieving the peace objectives established by the NCIC. We have held peace football matches, peace tree-planting and peace drama festivals,” said Kwale Amani Clubs coordinator Julianah Mwanjelle.
Meanwhile, NCIC boss Hassan Mohammed said: “Youth are the most active group and a better understanding of them is, therefore, important in any efforts aimed at attaining long-term peace building and social cohesion.”
An initiative of the NCIC, the Amani clubs aim to influence young people on matters of positive ethnicity, nationhood and inclusivity by advocating national cohesion and integration.
According to the NCIC vice-chairperson, Ms Irene Wanyoike, the overall goal of the clubs is to inculcate an appreciation of diversity among students from different ethnic, racial and religious communities.
NCIC lists six counties where hate speech is rampant
A commission has listed six counties where incitement and hate speech are widespread.
The National Cohesion and Integration Commission (NCIC) yesterday cited Uasin Gishu, Elgeyo Marakwet, Kakamega, Nakuru, Nyeri and Kilifi as counties where incitement and hate mongering were rampant.
NCIC Assistant Director Kyalo Mwengi, who is in charge of complaints, legal and enforcement, said the commission flagged the counties after a national survey.
Speaking in Eldoret yesterday during the training of police officers, Mr Mwengi expressed concern over what he described as the metamorphosis of incitement and hate speech from political rallies to social media.
“We have identified six counties where incitement and hate speech is rampant. We are embarking on training to equip the police with knowledge on how to effectively use voice recorders and camcorders to collect evidence,” he told the officers drawn from six sub-counties.
“We currently have a team that is constantly monitoring social media for purposes of identifying and recommending action against perpetrators of hate speech. We are concerned that hate is moving from social-political rallies to social media.”