Irresponsible talk could trigger violence

The role of the opposition in Kenya appears to be to oppose every effort the government proposes, makes or any action the government takes or proposes to take, however ludicrous and futile the basis is.

According to Susan Munroe, a Canada news expert, "The role of an opposition party is to oppose the government by criticising its policies, suggesting alternatives and keeping the public informed about issues relating to government administration."

Other opinions assert that the primary function of the opposition is to offer credible alternatives. The Opposition may question the government of the day and hold it accountable to the public. It is responsible in upholding the best interests of the people of the country.

They have to ensure the Government does not take steps that might have negative implications on the people. Criticism should positively contribute to the national interest.

Use of abusive and inciting language is no less a trigger of conflict than hate speech.

One wonders where abusive leaders would fit in Eleanor Roosevelt’s categorisation of minds - which either discuss ideas, events or people.

Kenyans read and heard the innuendo about allocation of “light duties” to former Cabinet Secretary for Devolution. The insinuation portrays immoral and evil-mindedness of people who the young generation looks up to.

Ms Waiguru’s issues have since become murkier, but the bitter taste the opposition’s approach has left behind will not help disentangle the problem.

The agencies established by law to play the role that the opposition has saddled itself with should be left to investigate, once the red flag has been raised.

Civil language would achieve more desired results without leaving bitterness in its wake. Confrontational opposition invites confrontational responses.

There is nothing wrong with raising the red flag or whistle-blowing where impropriety is suspected, and leaving the agencies mandated with the responsibilities to investigate and establish the facts. That would not cause embarrassment when facts disprove the allegation.

The standard gauge railway project, the primary schools laptop project; both of which are well underway, are projects the Opposition raised much dust about with no factual basis.

The Opposition has described the euro bond saga, variously as the “grand robbery of Kenya” and a ‘national disaster’, and invoked no less a person than US President Obama to intervene.

The 2007/2008 post-election violence was fuelled by utterances which described the elections results as ‘stolen’, calls for mass action and threats to make the country “ungovernable”. The memories of that violence are still fresh and hurting in peoples’ minds.

That conflict was only managed, not resolved. It is merely latent, awaiting a trigger. Conflict management analysis experts will warn that the experience from the 2007-2008 PEV would come back readily with a vengeance, this time more hardened and more difficult to manage. Kenyans who suffered loss of lives of loved ones, who were seriously injured, permanently disabled, lost their property and were displaced, have not, and will not be healed, as they are constantly reminded of the violence through irresponsible talk.

The Opposition is already beating war drums, predicting rigging of an election that is 17 months away.

They are vowing action, regardless of the verdict of the established legal mechanisms. ‘They will not accept anything less than free and fair elections’, this dangerous.

Persistent abusive statements and sometimes angry responses are sure triggers of the violence experienced in the past episodic conflicts.

Nothing should be spared by all to avoid violence in our country if we are determined to avoid joining the league of war-torn countries in the region.