Political campaigns have started in earnest as the players realign themselves and scheme for transition in 2022 when President Uhuru Kenyatta’s term ends. Following the 2018 ‘Handshake’ between erstwhile intractable foes President Kenyatta and ODM party leader Raila Odinga, the political landscape has changed dramatically.
The President’s ruling Jubilee Party is in turmoil with Kieleweke and Tangatanga factions embroiled in a vicious fight. The opposition National Super Alliance (Nasa) has fragmented with constituent parties going separate ways and also engrossed in fratricidal intra-party wars.
In the ensuing stampede for coalition building and realignments, worrying trends are emerging. Politicians have resorted to blatant abrogation of the health regulations to contain Covid-19 as they organise public meetings. A few weeks ago, for example, Cotu secretary-general Francis Atwoli organised a well-publicised meeting of Luhya leaders. Subsequent to that, select Luhya community leaders such as Devolution Cabinet Secretary Eugene Wamalwa and Kakamega Governor Wycliffe Oparanya have been traversing the region meeting huge crowds as they preach the message of community unity. Nobody has ever stopped them.
Recently, politicians and top Health ministry officials were at a burial in Nyeri County that was attended by a large crowd.
Yet when, at the weekend, a political grouping that brings together Bungoma Senator Moses Wetang’ula and other leaders perceived to be in the Tangatanga camp that revolve around Deputy President William Ruto organised a meeting in Kakamega County, they were violently dispersed by the police.
The meeting was misguided in the first place. Such meetings remain outlawed. However, the incident elicits the question, why the double standards? Why are some public gatherings being allowed take to place while others are stopped? The position is that nobody, irrespective of political affiliation, should be allowed to organise public meetings at this point in time.
A related matter of concern here is the selective use of security forces to intimidate and frustrate those perceived to be against the establishment. Such tactics only serve to play into the hands of the supposed dissenters, earning them public sympathy and utimately becoming counter-intuitive.
Everybody knows that the coronavirus infections are increasing by the day and must be curbed. The government should enforce all the safety regulations, including social distancing and prohibition of public gatherings. The bottomline is, the law should apply to all irrespective of political affiliation or station in life.