NAIROBI, Kenya, Feb 4 – The chairman of the National Cohesion and Integration Commission (NCIC) Mzalendo Kibunjia has censured politicians for using historical injustices as a campaign platform.
Kibunjia cautioned that stirring up discontent over the disproportionate allocation of land so close to the elections was courting violence.
“We must not accept leaders who incite us on the basis of historical injustices that we have agreed as a nation and even formed institutions to resolve them.”
“I would wish that you would let those institutions solve these issues then now implement them if you are in government. The country is cooler than it was in 2007 one month to elections. It didn’t happen by accident.”
Kibunjia also came to the defence of the Truth Justice and Reconciliation Commission (TJRC) which is mandated to investigate irregular and illegal acquisition of public land.
The TJRC has been accused of dragging its feet but Kibunjia counters that they cannot fulfil their mandate overnight and called on Kenyans to be patient.
“None of them can resolve those issues in a month’s time so why are you inciting us on issues that you cannot resolve. Something like that which is raw… which is very emotional and you want to use it? I don’t think you being fair to Kenyans.”
He issued the short code ‘15666’ as a toll free number Safaricom subscribers can use to text message incidents of hate speech and discrimination in the staffing of county governments.
“While the country is rightly giving a lot of attention to the March 4 elections, not many people are focusing on what happens after the elections in terms of the county governments.”
The NCIC has deployed 105 ‘cohesion monitors’ in the 47 counties in the run up to the general election to keep an eye out for hate speech as politicians carry out their campaigns.
The monitors who range between one and four per county depending on county size have also been equipped with recorders to boost any cases of hate speech the NCIC takes to court.
The monitors were selected from non-governmental institutions and civil society groups that carry out work similar to that of the NCIC – ensuring ethnic cohesion – and will be contracted at first for six months.
The deployment and a two-day training workshop for the cohesion monitors have been funded by the United Nations Development Programme and the Department for International Development.
The monitors are being trained on what constitutes hate speech or more specifically ‘dangerous’ speech which is when a person of influence makes utterances to a particularly susceptible group, such as those who feel their land was unfairly taken away from them, which call for violence.