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Why we should fight for our democratic space

By Mutahi Kahiga | January 14th 2016

Looking at a number of happenings in this country in isolation does not give the full picture of the threat to the democratic space.

What started as a dispute between employer and teachers been has mutated into a full-scale financial emasculation of teachers’ unions. As if this wasn’t injury enough, the powers-that-be have ordered the cash-starved unions to hold elections at both branch and national level within two months or face deregistration of its officials.

Another related scheme is the Githu Muigai-led rules targeting religions. Matters of faith may not necessarily be regulated by law.

The hype by Government to fold up Jubilee affiliated political parties and herd them into a new entity is further shrinking of democratic space.

There has also been a prolonged scheme to rein in the media through oppressive laws. Looking at just these few happenings, one thing comes out clearly. The powers-that-be are slowly and systematically taking up democratic space that Kenyans have enjoyed for sometime.

As others watch the teachers’ getting emasculated, the church muzzled and the press strangled, we should be reminded of Poet Martin Numeoller who wrote the poem below

First they came for the communists, and I did not speak out because I was not a communist;

Then they came for the socialists, and I did not speak out because I was not a socialist;

Then they came for the trade unionists, and I did not speak out because I was not a trade unionist;

Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out because I was not a Jew;

Then they came for me and there was no one left to speak out for me.

It’s time to speak out.

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