The latest reckless rant by the National Assembly’s Leader of Majority, Mr Aden Duale, paints a picture of a dangerous demagogue — a man who does not befit the title he holds in the august House.
Less than a fortnight after we at The Standard on Saturday highlighted some of his colourful diatribes. This week, Mr Duale was captured in a voice recording making his most virulent statements yet. He not just referred to the Kamba ethnic community in the most demeaning terms, he told youths in the undated voice recording to stop members of this community from crossing over to Garissa County to cast their ballot in this year’s General Election.
The context of this chilling message was clear — Duale was hell bent of stopping members of the Kamba community living neighbouring Kitui County from registering to vote in Garissa County because his most formidable rival Farah Maalim of the Wiper Democratic Movement was seeking to unseat him as MP for Garissa Township, a region where the large Kamba voting bloc rivals that of the Somalis.
This is an outrage. More so because if past inaction is anything to go by, Duale will get away with his misogynistic remarks where he has ethnically profiled one community, and incited his supporters to violence — an electoral offence which should bar him from contesting for elections under ordinary circumstances. In more liberal democracies Duale should have resigned as MP of Garissa Township by the time the voice recording became public.
The tragedy is this is not the first time that Duale has made unsavory remarks against members of the Kamba community, and this is why his disavowal of the recording can be disregarded.
In one incident Duale asked the Al-Shabaab terror militia to rain their grenades in Machakos and spare his ethnic Somali community in Eastleigh, Nairobi.
Previously, he has also made disparaging remarks about the parents of a governor at a public function, while at other events his public slurs against politicians in the opposition have bordered on the criminal.
Duale’s statements should not be taken as the political rhetoric that Kenyans have become accustomed to; they can inflame passions and incite people to violence, especially if reactionary forces act on these statements.
How long will politicians be allowed to get away with these narrowly populist but dangerously divisive comments? And how long will the National Cohesion and Integration Commission continue to wring its hands in frustration when politicians whip up the emotions of youths by deliberately inciting them to violence?
An MP who has been captured on television urging others to take up machetes to chop up a rival politician continues to roam the streets of Nairobi as the litigation process drags on. The lack of court convictions against such impunity can be perilous when law abiding citizens come to believe that authorities are powerless to act against such excesses.
The country is headed for a volatile political period and there is every indication that we are headed for an acrimonious campaign in the run up to the August national poll.
In this respect, authorities must heed President Uhuru Kenyatta’s own statement this week to act against those who are out to fracture the nation for political expediency.
The Jubilee administration could take the cue from the President’s stated commitment and ask itself if Duale’s position as Leader of Majority in the National Assembly runs against its values as a progressive political party.
Because Duale’s statements were manifestly criminal, the police must also act. In the next few days, we should expect to hear recriminations from politicians in the opposition and possibly even a counter-reaction from Duale’s wing in Jubilee —a common occurrence in situations such as this.
These should not take attention away from Duale’s dangerous rants. There should be sanctions—swift and severe sanctions.