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Outrage over MP's utterances against Uhuru and First Family

By Standard Team | September 9th 2020 at 00:00:00 GMT +0300

ODM leader Raila Odinga after holding talks with Maa community leaders from Kajiado County in Nairobi, yesterday. [Emmanuel Wanson, Standard]

The political class yesterday united in outrage over comments attributed to controversial Kanu MP Johana Ng'eno, who will now have to look for a new home after his party disowned him.

Ng'eno talked himself into trouble after he was captured on camera making unsavoury comments against the president, his father and the first family. 

Kanu Secretary Genral Nick Salat apologised to the nation on behalf of his party, explaining that the MP's utterances contravened what Kanu stood for and said Ng'eno must resign or be forced out.

"The party cannot tolerate this kind of uncivilised conduct from a person who carries its flag and benefits from its brand. In this regard, the party finds Hon Ng’eno’s membership in Kanu untenable and therefore calls upon him to resign from the party," he said.

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Salat warned of other consequences should the MP fail to do so.

"If Ng’eno fails to resign on his own volition, the party will have no choice but to expel him by invoking provisions of Section 14(7) of the Political Parties Act," he said.

At Capital Hill, ODM leader Raila Odinga castigated leaders using inflammatory language that could whip up emotions, likening this to beating the drums of war.

"Beating the drums of war will not work. I appeal to these leaders to stand for a united Kenya and tell off those people who issue threats against fellow Kenyans," said Raila, who was addressing the Press after a meeting with Maasai leaders from Kajiado County.

“This country has known violence because of politics. We have had war in 1992, 1997 and in 2007 and nobody should try to take us in that direction again because of politics," added Raila.

Deputy President William Ruto had earlier distanced himself from his allies utterances, but this did not stop his critics from laying the blame at his door.

“Leaders should exercise restraint and avoid insults and bad language against other Kenyans. Unsavoury words against mothers and Head of State is a NO, NO. No amount of anger justifies use of offensive insulting language. There exists decent ways to communicate however one feels,” the DP said on Monday.

The MP's remarks were made on the same day Ruto appeared on a TV station saying he would not be provoked to engage in public spats with his boss.

But yesterday, Suna East MP Junet Mohammed said that Kapseret MP Oscar Sudi and Ng’eno were making their utterances at the behest of the DP.

Junet, ODM's director of elections, said Ruto’s condemnation of Ng’eno’s statement was hollow hearted.

“I want to ask the DP to spare this country the politics of war and violence. It is dishonest and old school for the DP to send his people to insult other leaders, including the president, then pretend to be telling them to stop. You cannot abuse other leaders to gain power,” Junet said.

The MP asked Ruto to resign if he was fed up with being in the government.

“He should stop insulting the government that he serves in. If he feels that he is done and is ready to be the president in 2022 then he should resign and join us on the outside,” Junet said.

Ng'eno yesterday appeared to join some of his colleagues who have previously earned the attention of police for making public utterances that earned them short stints in cells. Although some of the lawmakers earned themselves a date with the courts, they were later set free. 

Ruto has also in the past been accused of making unsavoury comments about Raila, especially in the run-up to the 2017 elections.

At some point, ODM chairman John Mbadi castigated Ruto who was then Uhuru's running mate over what he said "could not be the language of civilised politics and transformation that Uhuru and Ruto purported to represent".

Junet has also not been averse to accusations of using toxic language.

Junet, Aisha Jumwa (Malindi), Busia Woman Rep Florence Mutua and Kitutu Masaba’s Timothy Bosire were among politicians acquitted by the courts over hate speech charges in 2019.

The MPs were among at least eight legislators that had incitement charges levelled against them in the run-up to the 2017 elections. The leaders were at the time drawn from both Jubilee and the then CORD, and were arrested in 2016, spending four days in police cells.

Others were the then Machakos Senator Johnstone Muthama, Moses Kuria (Gatundu South), Ferdinand Waititu (then Kabete MP) and Kimani Ngunjiri (Bahati). The charges were later dropped.

Wiper leader Kalonzo Musyoka also condemned the MPs' utterances.

"It is quite shocking that the two legislators in their zeal to score political points chose to go for the former First Lady's jugular hurling unprintable epithets at her persona and character while fully aware of her inability to talk back or (to) give measured response to the allegations levelled against her," he said.

Yesterday, women politicians also demanded an apology from Ruto for the remarks made by his allies.

Speaking at a Nairobi hotel yesterday, the women condemned the verbal attacks on President Kenyatta, saying the attacks were uncouth and uncalled for.

“We are surprised by the utterances of the two MPs. We are aware of their political grievances which are within their rights to air, but we take great exception of indecency towards women,” Kirinyaga Governor Anne Waiguru said.

“By mentioning the name of Her Excellency Mama Ngina Kenyatta in such unsavoury remarks, they crossed the line. It shows them in bad light as leaders. Politicians should direct their grievances, if any, to their fellow politicians. Freedom comes with responsibility. We demand simple civility and respect as women of Kenya,” Waiguru added.

The women demanded an apology from Ruto and legal action against the two MPs, who they said were not honourable.

“It is wrong to drag the name of the mother of the nation into such messy political remarks as she has never been on the ballot to vie for any political position. We know that the actions are being fronted by someone because every dog has its owner. Direct your political pains where due,” said Kiambu woman MP Gathoni wa Muchomba

Sudi, who condemned Ngéno's arrest and dared the police to arrest him too, took to social media to absolve himself from blame.

“I need to make a clarification here. I didn't insult anybody's mother. I just reiterated the fact that my mother, Mama Ngina and all other mothers are equal and they all deserve respect. However, my colleague Johanna Ng'eno was arrested because of mentioning Mama Ngina's name. No one's mother is more special than the other. That's my take," he said.

Wanga also faulted the DP for the comments made by his allies.

“This is seen as hypocrisy for a man who claims to worship God. Surely a tweet cannot suffice for a worthy apology for a person of stature like Mama Ngina. Stop hiding behind the tweet and apologise,” the Homa Bay Woman rep said.

Laikipia MP Cate Waruguru said if Ruto was keen on getting votes from Mount Kenya, he should tame his political mentees from hurling abuses at the president, and by extension his family.

In Parliament, the National Assembly Committee on National Administration and Security has told the DP to apologise on behalf of his allies.

The committee chaired by Kiambaa MP Paul Koinange said while Ruto had condemned the attacks by Sudi and Ng'eno, this was not enough.

“The conduct of these members cannot be tolerated. The party leadership will take action, as the matter will be addressed at the NEC,” disclosed a party official aware of the developments.

The committee argued that the lawmakers were not speaking on their own volition but holding brief for someone and therefore the DP owes an apology to his boss over the unbecoming conduct of his allies.

Former Kanu Nominated Senator Zipporah Kittony and retired AIC-Kenya presiding Bishop Silas Yego asked the duo to withdraw their statements and apologise lest they attract a curse.

“The Kenyatta family played a pivotal role in Kenya’s struggle for independence and our gratitude as a country should be respect. The utterances by the two leaders is abuse and disrespect, which must be condemned. As an elderly member of society, we need an apology lest they attract a curse,” she said yesterday at her Cherangany home where she was accompanied by Rift Valley Maendeleo ya Wanawake Organisation officials.

Yego said the remarks go against moral and traditional dictates and must be discouraged.

“President Kenyatta is the Head of State and is anointed by God. We need to respect him as a community, especially now that he is still in power,” he said.

 [Report by Roselyn Obala, Allan Mungai, Cyrus Ombati, Brian George and Fred Kibor]

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