LET’S REJECT INTOLERANCE
We are heading towards what promises to be a season of heated political contest as the 2017 general election draws closer. In fact, looking at our headlines the past couple of months, one would think the elections are just round the corner. Political debate is important because it affords all candidates an opportunity to expound on their ideologies and policies to secure the trust and confidence of the voters. It is therefore one of the ways of enhancing democracy.
Like many of us who picked the mantle of leadership in 2013, President Uhuru Kenyatta will be seeking reelection. This election gives us an opportunity to seek a fresh mandate to complete the good work we have started in this first term.
However, there is an increasingly alarming level of intolerance that is being propelled by some politicians at the local and national levels. Some politicians have been making comments that are not only indecorous but also designed to rouse bigotry among our people. This must not be allowed.
Political intolerance is unacceptable and makes a mockery of our civilised democracy. As we exercise our democratic rights, we must be ready to respect others, including the right of association and expression.
We would like to believe we have healed from the violence that almost pushed this country to the brink in 2007-08, when some felt their rights were more important than those of others. During that time, persons who our youth look up to made some divisive, malicious and violent statements. Youths were incited to uproot railway tracks, block roads, burn private property and even physically assault passengers in public service vehicles. They gained little from these activities except gratify a few political egos.
Last Sunday at the Thika Stadium, we witnessed bouts of violence by people residents are referring to as “hired thugs”. These groups intimidated, assaulted and robbed people of their personal effects after a successful event at which I was present to support local talent.
If it is true these rabble-rousers were hired for political reasons, then we may be headed into another turbulent political season. However, as the people of Kiambu, we are committed to a peaceful campaign and electioneering period. We reject efforts by a few individuals, driven by selfish interests, to destroy our county and undermine our achievements so far.
It is hoped this attitude will also prevail at the national level, where we are currently seeing matters of national interest being debated through the myopic lens of narrow political and tribal thinking, both on public and social media. Political intolerance is for the weak.
As leaders, we are called upon to serve as role models, opinion makers and opinion shapers. When we are embroiled in hateful and divisive talk on national TV or on social media, do we really expect our supporters to behave any better?
We must be mature enough to debate issues based on facts and not anchored in negative ethnic and political leanings. We must stand above mediocrity and demand, from ourselves, the tolerance that will guide this country to prosperity.
The kind of political talk we are experiencing should not be deemed as part and parcel of the race to 2017 — we must remember chaos destroy lives. A confrontational political environment will adversely impact the entire country and our relationships with our investors, tourists, development partners and, of course, our neighbours. Let us endeavor to keep the peace.
WE MUST BE MATURE ENOUGH TO DEBATE ISSUES BASED ON FACTS AND NOT ANCHORED IN NEGATIVE ETHNIC LEANINGS