NAIROBI, Kenya, Jun 16 – The National Cohesion and Integration Commission (NCIC) wants to be involved in the process of clearing individuals seeking to run for political office.
Appearing before the joint House Committee on Equality and National Cohesion, NCIC chairman Francis ole Kaparo said the ambitious amendment is among changes he would like to see made in the NCIC Act to curb and deter cases of hate speech.
“There are a series of documents these days that are required to be produced by a candidate… amongst them is even the fact that you have paid the loan that you had been given from your university; but that is not as serious being a fellow who destroys social cohesion. I am proposing that the next document should be required is from the NCIC that you have not destroyed the social cohesion of the people you intend to represent or Kenya in general. I know it will be unpopular but it is something important,” he said.
The anti-hate speech agency boss said campaigns were underway and asked institutions central to the electoral process to step up vigilance.
In the run-up to the 2013 General Election, four constitutional commissions formed a joint team to vet candidates which saw the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) mandated to clear candidates seeking political seats, the Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission (EACC) and the Office of the Ombudsman handle ethics and integrity issues pertaining to the candidates and the Director of Public Prosecution’s look at criminal records of candidates.
Kaparo also confirmed that eight MPs currently in police custody for hate speech will be charged on Friday with making utterances that border on incitement, adding that the agency’s legal team has been directed to oppose bail.
He warned that the NCIC will not relent in the prosecution of hate mongers ‘in the interest of making sure Kenya doesn’t self destruct.’
NCIC’s Head of Legal Department Kyalo Mwengi added: “What the police did under the Office of the DPP is to make an application under Article 59, to have these people detained in police custody pending investigations to avoid them interfering with investigations, tomorrow you will see the proper charges before court.”
National Assembly CORD Members Aisha Jumwa (Kilifi County Woman Representative), Florence Mutua (Busia County Woman Representative), Junet Mohammed (Suna East) and Timothy Bosire (Kitutu Masaba) are being held alongside Senate Minority Whip Johnson Muthama for alleged hate speech.
Kaparo further told the House team that his tour across the country has revealed that there is deep seated fear among Kenyans as the country’s political temperature begins to heat up ahead of next year’s elections.
“The division of the Kenyan people is palpable you can fill it, there is so much tension, there is so much hate, there is so much suspicion. We are in fact a nation waiting to destroy itself. Let me be that frank, at the risk of being called a doomsayer”