Banning words not enough, take action on those inciting hate and violence [Pulse Editor's Opinion]

Government entities should step up in ensuring a violence-free election

NCIC Chair Rev Dr Samuel Kobia with influencer and social activist Madocho during a press conference on April 8, 2022

The National Cohesion and Integration Commission (NCIC) on Friday April 8, released a list of words it said could be a catalyst for hatred and violence as the country heads for the general elections.

The words which come from different dialects were banned from use by politicians in public rallies as they go about their campaigns.

The Commission's Chairman, Reverend Samuel Kobia, warned stern action on those that will go against the Commission’s directive.

This is not the first time government watchdogs are warning of consequences to those they find going against directives they issue.

The Ethics and Anti-corruption Commission (EACC) has more than once warned of stern action on those found guilty of corruption, the National Transport and Safety Authority (NTSA) has threatened to impose heavy fines on those it finds guilty of breaking traffic rules and even the Head of State himself has on several occasions warned lawbreakers of dire consequences If found guilty.

What we, however, see are directives falling on deaf ears with those supposed to take charge turning blind eyes and going silent.

The directive by NCIC comes at a time when political gears are shifting and tension is brewing.

Since the 2007 General Election, the country has experienced different magnitudes of post-election violence, whose causalities are mostly the most vulnerable in society.

As the country campaigns for a violence-free election, relevant government entities led by the NCIC should step up in their jobs and take action on the enemies of peace.

Just days after the directive, a politician has collaborated on a hit song whose title and chorus all ring of a no-no word, "Hatupangwingwi".

More than that, it is also a top trending hashtag on Twitter. Promoted by proponents of one of the top presidential campaigns. It would seem Kenya Kwanza had already embraced it as their official slogan before the NCIC ban? Either way, it could very well be the first test on the Integration Commission.

The Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) should disqualify candidates who are found to be spreading hate and inciting Kenyans to violence.

The Communications Authority of Kenya (CA) should at this time be keener in monitoring social media - which has been found the most notorious platform for spreading hate - and take action against those it finds to be mongering hate and inciting violence.

Kenyans should also be at the forefront in ensuring there is a peaceful transition of government, we have seen before what political violence can cause, and at this time when the country’s economy is at its most fragile, political violence will be adding salt to injury.

The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the position of Pulse as its publisher.

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