A few days ago, the Country was treated to rare and most unexpected attacks on Hon. RailaÂ Odinga and Taita Taveta Governor Hon. SalimÂ Muvrya, when the two leaders in the company of other Cord leaders, addressed a public rally in Kwale. The purpose of the rally was to drum up support for Cordâ€™s initiated Referendum process.
It was variously reported that a middle aged man who in fact appeared haggard emerged from the crowd at the Kwale Rally and hit both Hon Odinga and Governor Muvrya with a walking stick. He was subsequently overpowered and disarmed. In the local media, conflicting reasons were advancedÂ for his action.
In one media report, it was said that the man got worked up because he had missed handouts which was allegedly given to the people at the rally. Although there was no such handout given. Another media report stated that the man was mentally unstable and yet another one said he was fed up with the calls for Referendum.Â
However, the truth has now emerged that a Jubilee Senator in fact hired the man to commit the heinous act.Confessions have come forth from the manâ€™s accomplices that he was given a down payment of Ksh.30,000 to do the dirty job. This revelation is not only shocking, actionable but also shows how low some politicians can stoop in their display of intolerance.
A few weeks before the Kwale incident, cases of political intolerance had been reported in other parts of the country. For instance, intolerance had been exhibited in Nandi County where a referendum supporter from the county government was attacked and injured.
There was also public display of intolerance exhibited by Senator Duale when he verbally attackedÂ Bomet Governor Isaac Ruto at a Rally in Narok on the latterâ€™s stance on the referendum. Several such cases of intolerance are being exhibited by officials of the Jubilee coalition as the referendum campaign gathers steam.
It is noteworthyÂ Â that the pro-referendum supporters including Hon. Odinga and Governors IsaacÂ Ruto and Mvurya have the full constitutional and legal right to associate with likeminded people and robustly express their views on the Referendum without fear. The bill of rights in our supreme law leaves no doubt on these matters. Thus, the jubilee leadership need not panic but instead should act in accordance with the applicable laws governing the Referendum process as well as freedom of assembly and expression.
But one reason why the attack on Hon. Odinga et al needs to be taken seriously is that this is not the first kind of such attacks organized by those in power. During the KANU dictatorship, Rev Timothy Njoya of P.C.E.A. was badly bludgeoned by hired and paid KANU thugs near Parliament. It was the height of intolerance. The KANU Regime felt challenged by the public awareness campaign that was associated with Rev. Njoya and others. However, the brutal attacks on Rev. Njoya did not stop changes which the people were expecting in the political arena.
Similarly,then Safina party activist Dr. Richard Leakey was whipped by hired goons in Nakuru when they visited the Rift Valley town to popularize their cause.Leakey had by then been singled out as a target of vilification among the Safina luminary because he was deemed by the system to be a darling of the West.
Just as in the Njoya case,the barbaric acts of intimidation become a cropper as the KANU establishment bowed to public pressure to officially register Safina as a political party.Dr.Leakey went ahead to become its founder Secretary General.
Indeed, over and above everything else,the era ofÂ KANU dictatorship came to an Â endÂ and the rest is history. Now it appears that the Jubilee Government is determinedÂ to revive systematicÂ politicalÂ
intolerance and undemocratic practices which went down the political grave with the old KANU leadership. Accordingly, the Jubilee Government needs to be reminded that the clamor for theÂ Referendum process by the people cannot be stopped by any undemocratic means whatsoever.
There is no doubt that the Referendum will take place and the popular view of the KenyanÂ majority willÂ triumph.
Â The writer is a management consultant based in Nairobi.Â