The move -quite unprecedentedÂ – by CORD leader Raila Odinga to take Leader of the Majority party Aden Duale to court is long overdue, considering the manner, consistency and nature of personalised verbal attacks on Mr. Odinga by a clique of politicians in the ruling coalition.
While Mr. Odinga has in the past endured these attacks, the increasing derogative nature of them, and the medium through which they come out to public consumption, has indeed weighed heavily on him.
Consider a group of Jubilee MPs addressing the national press from the hallowed precincts of parliament and using phrases like ‘lord of poverty’ to refer to Mr. Odinga; how petty can it get?
Political courtesy is the stock-in-trade of democratic nations.
In March 2002, Justice Joyce Aluoch, now judge at ICC, when awarding then cabinet minister Nicholas Biwott damages totalling Ksh 20 million (then) had this to say:
“The courts are no longer willing to sit back and watch people’s names, reputation and character being tarnished by falsehoods. We expect the press to investigate the information and/or allegations they get about people or organisations and only print it if they have proof that it is true”.
She added, ”The High Court [has] adopted a stern approach to libel by both print and electronic media, authors and publishers of books and magazines. It has to be understood that the purpose is not to stifle them but to encourage mature and responsible journalism.”
This was after People Daily falsely linked Hon. Biwott to a scandal involving the award of tenders for the construction of the Turkwell Gorge Hydro-Electric Power project.
In a country famed for media freedom, it shocks that a decade later, the media still give politicians exalted spaces to injure reputations of others without checking the facts.
Duale’s utterances connecting Raila Odinga to the collapse of Mumias have been published and publicized in almost all major news outlets in the country without any of them getting to check what the actual facts are.
Mr. Odinga’s legal advisor advocate Paul Mwangi yesterday wrote a demand letter to Duale (read here) demanding he shows cause why the CORD leader should not institute legal proceedings against him.
It is time Mr. Odinga uses the stick.
Dikembe is a pro-CORD blogger.