On the eve of our nationâ€™s 51st independence anniversary, our country is on the verge of being taken back to the dark past that we thought we had put behind us forever.
Our freedoms are on the verge of being rolled back and our rights taken away in significant ways.
There is clear evidence that evil minds, geniuses in inventing the past, are at work in Jubilee and we need to remain alert and active.
As we meet here, a regime hell bent on reinventing the past is rushing through our National Assembly an amendment Bill that if passed, takes us back to the 1980s, although its consequences could be much worse.
That Bill is a major assault on democracy and fundamental rights. It also presents a major abuse to established Parliamentary procedures.
We can tell when danger is coming our way. We can tell when excuses are being invented to limit our rights and freedoms and institute dictatorship and personal rule. That moment is with us now.
With the Security Laws (Amendment) Bill, 2014 that is being pushed through the National Assembly today, we are firmly back to that afternoon on June 9 1982 when Kanu officially made Kenya a single party state.
What followed were gross human rights abuses, detentions, assassinations and suppression of political and social activities.
Coincidentally, the amendment Bill is slated to go through Third and final reading in the afternoon just as was the case in 1982.
We must shudder at the thought that history can repeat itself.
In the 1970s and 1980s, the excuse for clamping down on our rights was that Kenyans needed unity for development to occur.
Today, the excuse for the draconian laws they intend to impose on us is war on terrorism. This is where it was always leading. We always said that something was afoot, that elements of security failures were induced to be used at appropriate time to roll back on the gains we have made.
We always suspected that President Uhuru Kenyatta and his Deputy William Ruto are uncomfortable with the Constitution and are looking for an excuse to take us to the old order and old days of Kanu hegemony.
The Kanu single party era, with its abuses, institutionalized corruption, muzzling of free press, freedom of association and freedom of thought remain the model for President Kenyatta and his deputy.
They are determined to take us back to that order. They think the right moment has arrived.
Kenyans must resist and CORD is prepared to lead the way.
Those of us who were old enough must tell those who were too young that there were days people were taken to courts at night, long after government working hours only to find a judge waiting to send them to jail.
That there were days when Kenyans were arrested and held incommunicado, without the benefit of a legal representation, all in the name of creating order.
That there were days Kenyans were tortured, sometimes to death, in the excuse that those Kenyans were part of underground movements undermining or threatening the stability of the nation.
Those dark days are on their way back, with this Bill being rushed through the House.
They always begin as well-intended amendments in national interest. But they all end in a great deal of trauma and stagnation for the nation.
Let me give a few examples.
Under the Public Order Act , Jubilee wants to give the Cabinet Secretary powers to, via gazette notice, designate the areas where, and times at which public meetings, gatherings or public processions may be held.
This is unconstitutional. It seeks to limit right of peaceful assembly under Article 37 of the Constitution by making it subject to the whims of the Executive.
The Bill goes further to propose that any person who unlawfully convenes, organizes or promotes a public rally, meeting or procession or neglects or refuses to comply with any law relating to public meetings commits an offence.
Such a person will be held liable for any damage or loss suffered as a result of such public rally, meeting or procession.
Jubilee began testing this scare tactic on Saba Saba.
It violates the rules on Criminal Responsibility by making one liable for actions of others not his own. Its end aim is to let political activity take place only with the consent of those in power. We have been here before. We shall not go there again.
Jubilee is trying to give the Executive the power of declaring curfews instead of strengthening an independent police to do its work.
Jubilee wants to amend the Penal Code to provide a person who publishes or causes to be published or distributes obscene, gory or offensive material which is likely to cause fear and alarm to the general public or disturb public peace is guilty of a felony and is liable, upon conviction, to a fine not exceeding one million shillings or imprisonment for a term not exceeding three years or both, or, where the offence is committed by a media enterprise, to a fine not exceeding five million shillings.
This is a manifest assault on freedom of expression under article 33(1) (a).
The only limitation to this right is stipulated under Article 33(2) and these are not included. It is an attempt to amend and expand that sub article through the back door and is manifestly unconstitutional
It also flies in the face of Article 34 (2) (b) by purporting to criminalize the content of broadcasts and publications. It is also clearly targeted at social media users especially in light of the recent criticism leveled against the President on insecurity. Given how it consistently lies, Jubilee clearly aims to ensure the truth never comes out.
In fact if they could they would have seized all CCTV footage of Westgate because it exposed their incompetence.
The Criminal Procedure Code is being amended to give police powers to hold suspects for more than 24 hours stipulated in the Constitution and to allow the prosecution not to disclose certain evidence on which it intends to rely if, among other considerations, the evidence is sensitive and it is not in the public interest to disclose.
This is an obvious infringement on the right to fair trial. We do not know who determines whether evidence is sensitive.
The Registration of Persons Act is being amended to provide that the Director of registrations may cancel the registration and revoke the identity card of any person issued under this Act.
This is a very dangerous proposal that has huge potential for political abuse. Citizenship, evidenced by an ID can only be revoked if it was obtained by registration (Article 17). This section makes no distinction.
Again it places the burden of proof as to why his ID should not be cancelled on the Citizen not the director. We are alive to those days when Kenyans woke up only to learn they cannot travel because their passports have been cancelled unilaterally.
These so called tough proposals on fighting terror come in the same week that in the US, investigations by the Senate concluded that the ‘tougher methods’ approved to fight terrorism after 911 were immensely abused and basically flopped.
Those investigations have shown that the reversals vis-a-vis rights weren’t worth it – the terrorism problem has been worsened exponentially by the tactics employed by Bush-Cheney administration. Kenya is headed down the same path.
This is not the time for us to see ourselves as CORD or Jubilee supporters. This goes beyond party. The proposals being rushed through the National Assembly are going to affects us all and the future of our beloved country in fundamental ways some of us may not imagine right now.
Throughout the last two years however, as things steadily deteriorated and the bottom fell off our nation, the people have been fed a steady diet of empty platitudes, falsehoods, lies and promises.
We all ought to have got tired of a country where we see wrong and say nothing, where leaders perpetuate wrong with impunity, where our civil society is beholden to one side or the other while the country disintegrates, where even our Churches are silent and our people too afraid and too divided along ethnic and party lines to speak.
If tyranny, corruption and dictatorship have reared their ugly heads in our Nation, it is us the people who have allowed it to take root and have watered it with our apathy and our appeasement.
It must therefore be for us, all of us, to stop it and uproot it.
We lie in ruins and it is an ideal place to stop and rethink.