Saturday, April 2, 2011

Uhuru and Ruto warned over hate speech at rallies

TOM OTIENO | nation Eldoret North MP William Ruto addresses the crowd during a prayer rally in Bomet for the Ocampo Six on April 02, 2011.

TOM OTIENO | nation Eldoret North MP William Ruto addresses the crowd during a prayer rally in Bomet for the Ocampo Six on April 02, 2011. 

By JOHN NGIRACHU jngirachu@ke.nationmedia.com

The government has warned politicians engaging in hate speech and inciting communities in the flurry of activities touched off by summonses issued against the Ocampo Six.

Internal Security permanent secretary Francis Kimemia told the Sunday Nation that the government had identified a number of politicians who are suspected of violating the law.

Those targeted by investigators will be summoned to explain their divisive statements.

He said the ministry in collaboration with the National Cohesion and Integration Commission would not hesitate to “charge war lords and inciters in court irrespective of who they are”.

“We met with the chairman of the National Cohesion and Integration Commission on Friday and we have marked the people who are inciting the public. We’ll be writing to them beginning next week to come and explain their statements,” said Mr Kimemia.

The PS said Kenya’s stability and peace are greater than the interests of individuals bent on creating mayhem.

It also emerged that the National Cohesion and Integration Commission could soon be prosecuting politicians who made inciting statements during a tour of Kiambu County by Finance minister Uhuru Kenyatta and Eldoret Noth MP William Ruto and their allies.

The government is particularly concerned about the speeches because it was the same type of language that was used by politicians in the run-up to the 2007 elections and which helped to touch off the violence that left more than 1,300 people dead and hundreds of thousands displaced.

NCIC chairman Mzalendo Kibunjia said the commission had received a complaint about statements made during the Friday tour and has also collected its own evidence.

“We had our people at those rallies and we have the information we need. We have sent others to Bomet (where a rally was held on Saturday),” said Mr Kibunjia.

The Hague-bound Mr Ruto and Mr Kenyatta have gone all out in their war of words against Prime Minister Raila Odinga over their summonses by the International Criminal Court.

“They seem to be pursuing a scorched earth policy but they should not leave us divided even as they go. It’s not helping their cause in any way,” said Mr Kibunjia.

But the NCIC could be accused of taking too long to act on dangerous speech despite blatant violations of the law.

“I don’t think we are helpless. I know Kenyans would want to see action immediately but we need to get solid evidence before we can take anybody to court,” said Mr Kibunjia.

Hate speech has increased with the furore created around the summonses to the Ocampo Six over their alleged roles in the violence that followed the bungled 2007 General Election.

Mr Kenyatta and Mr Ruto are on the final leg of “prayer tours” around the country ahead of their departure to The Hague, Netherlands, later this week. They are scheduled to hold a rally in Nakuru on Sunday.

MPs who accompanied the two on their tour through Kiambu County on Friday made statements that could amount to the kind of talk banned by the law.

Most of the statements were directed at Mr Odinga, who has in recent times emerged as their strongest rival and whom the two are seeking to fight at the polls next year.

Mr Kenyatta pioneered the use of the word kimundu (a nuisance bully) to refer to Mr Odinga, and that word was liberally used by most of the Kikuyu-speaking MPs whenever they spoke about him.

Riu tondu atindaga akiuga ni tunyuaga muno-ri, no anga tunyuaga na nyina? Na tondu atindaga akiuga tuthii Hague ri, Hague iyo ni ya nyina? Hague ni kwa nyukwa guku ugutinda ukiina? (Now that Raila keeps describing some of us as drunkards, do we go drinking with his wife? And now that he keeps telling us to go to The Hague, is that Hague his mother’s place? Is The Hague your mother’s place for you to keep singing about it?),” he asked at Githunguri.

Ithui tutikoragwo na thina na andu a Nyanza, tiga kimundu kimwe, na ni mukiui (We don’t have a problem with the people of Nyanza, but with one man, and you know who he is),” he added.

Public Works assistant minister Mwangi Kiunjuri was particularly scathing in his descriptions of Mr Odinga to residents at stop-overs and at the well attended rally in Githunguri.

He might falter in his speech in English but Mr Kiunjuri is eloquent in Kikuyu, and he employed coded language, proverbs and analogies to portray Mr Odinga as an enemy.

Twaga kwaria uhoro wa Raila Odinga riu, tutikamenya kiria gigaturia twita Gikuyu. “If we don’t talk about Raila now, we shall be caught unawares as a community),” he said when the convoy stopped at Kiambu.

“The red card for him is ready, and it will be handed to him in August next year when we go to the polls,” he added.

He suggested that Mr Odinga was responsible for the uprooting of the railway in Kibera, the forceful takeover of people’s houses in the slum and cited the PM’s call for mass action at that time as the root cause of the post-election violence.

Hiti ihitagwo ni mundu na muthoniwe na nyumba itari ndundu  iguthagwo na ihiga rimwe (A hyena is hunted by a man and his in-law and a house that is divided is destroyed by one stone),” said Mr Kiunjuri in his calling on the Kikuyu community to unite behind Mr Kenyatta.

Hiti ituraga ifuataga mundu yetereire guoko kugue. No hiti ino no nginya tumieherie (A hyena hunts by following you in the hope that your swinging hand will fall off. But we must get rid of this hyena now),” he added.

Rekei ndimwire. Kihii gititumagwo uthoni tondu ihii mungiikara nacio no iriina nguru. Muhiiro wa kihii uthiragira kahiuini (Let me tell you, uncircumcised boys are not invited to dowry negotiations because, as you know, boys will always take time to sing their play songs. An uncircumcised boy’s goings are only ended when he faces the knife).

Raila ti kimundu kiega kihana nyamu iria iriaga nguku na matumbi macio (Raila is not a good person. He is like the animal that eats the chicken and its eggs).

There were similar statements from PNU Chief Whip Johnstone Muthama, who employed a variety of rhetorical questions to suggest Mr Odinga should be held responsible for the violence.

“Who said his votes had been stolen and asked his people to fight? Who asked people to uproot the railway in Kibera, to remove people from their houses and occupy them?” he asked.

“Ucio ni muguruki (He is insane),” he added.

“This country cannot be governed using riddles and football commentary, and by people who cannot speak grammatical Kiswahili,” said Mr Muthama.

“We’re going to the polls next year and we are going to send him (Raila) back home to fish,” he said in apparent reference to the PM.

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