Civility in the political discourse of Western Province and North Rift a prerequisite for peaceful general elections
Written by West Fm
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“Three things in human life are important; the first is to be kind. The second is to be kind and the third is to be kind” Henry James – American Philosopher
Civility is politeness, courtesy, good manners, graciousness, cordiality in the way human being interact with each other.
As Kenya gears itself for a Transitional General Election where the Country must elect its 4th President since independence and fill expanded political elective offices both at the National and Devolved County Governance structures there is palpable excitement, heightened expectations and intense jostling for power.
The Constitution of Kenya 2010 provides the agreed thresholds that must inform all of us on how we conduct ourselves as a region and Kenya as a nation. The tragedy is that literally everybody in Kenya who can afford to be quoted by the media is now busy interpreting the Constitution of Kenya 2010 in or out of context in affirmation of his or her world view. The current tenor of political debate in Kenya is not uplifting but debilitating and makes the discerning wonder whether we as a people and Nation learned any lessons from the poisonous political discourse that accompanied the 2005 Referendum and the 2007 General Elections with the calamitous Post Election Violence of 2008.
We are in the season of cannibalistic selfishness where it is me, me, me and my tribe, my tribe my tribe. This is the season of political fantasies, fraud, hypocrisy and impunity. It is as if nothing else matters but politics.
Indeed it is the season when the law enforcement agencies recoil into partisanship depending on where their political sympathies gravitate to. There is an aura of like the law is suspended for now until the General Elections are over as has happened in 1992, 1997 and 2007.
West fm advocates for sober, thoughtful, candid political discourse where people are able to raise tough questions and present their causes, uninhibited. That while remaining a civil society we should not and cannot avoid tough but important issues, simply because they are unpleasant to address. Those who seek to manage our public affairs and resources must be interrogated thoroughly and held to account. The dynamics of tribe, resource distribution, corruption and all other matters at the heart of governance must be dissected and scrutinized.
There is no doubt that the many differing interests which divide our increasingly diverse society will produce an endless series of confrontations over difficult moral (ethical) and distributional issues over resources some will have an irreducible win-lose character and hence not amenable to consensus resolution. That whereas continuing confrontational is inevitable, the enormous destructiveness which commonly accompanies the confrontations is not. We must as a region embrace constructive confrontation which is underwritten by civility and respect for each other notwithstanding our different political persuasions, inclinations, biases.
The people of Western Province and North Rift must nurture civility in their political discourse as we move to the forthcoming General Elections and thereafter. We must work individually and collectively to increase, enhance the constructiveness of political public debate and insulate it from abuse, stereotyping, prejudice, name calling and the dirty and poison that characterized the 2007 General Elections.
We must recognize that other thoughtful and caring people have very different views on how best to address our community’s many complex problems. Constructive debate needs to focus on solutions which are most likely to be successful and not personal attacks leveled by adversaries against one another. We must separate the people from the problem. Key decisions must be made on the relative merits of competing problem- solving strategies. We should try to frame any contentious issues in ways which transform win-lose confrontations into win-win opportunities.
The reality is that the region must thoughtfully, civilly, somberly, candidly, respectfully and with decorum transact its political debate, discourse if it has to chart a new course that will put it on a pedestal for rapid socio-economic transformation. It will be a desecration of the Constitution of Kenya 2010 for anybody to infuse violence, thuggery, terrorism, intolerance, fraud, conman-ship, intimidation, threats, discrimination, negative ethnicity, exclusion in the regions political discourse to rediscover itself, its purpose, its essence and thereby be able to lift itself by its own bootstrap and join the rest of Kenya on the road to Vision 2030 which presently remains a mirage.