DARK DAYS AHEAD?

Murang'a church chaos: Is Kenya teetering on the brink?

Fears that the Kenol chaos could be a precursor to more violent conflicts.

In Summary
  • Leaders engage in a blame game after the chaos that led to the death of two people.
  • The mistrust and suspicions in government, compounded by claims of mischief, have combined to poison the tranquillity the country has been enjoying
Kiharu MP Ndindi Nyoro and his Kandara counterpart Alice Wahome during a press conference in Kenol, Murang'a, on Monday, October 5.
GO FOR CULPRITS: Kiharu MP Ndindi Nyoro and his Kandara counterpart Alice Wahome during a press conference in Kenol, Murang'a, on Monday, October 5.
Image: ALICE WAITHERA

The country could be dancing on the precipice and may tip over in the 2022 elections.

That has been the fear raised by Kenyans following the death of two people in Kenol, Murang’a county, last Sunday.

Chaos erupted moments before the arrival of Deputy President William Ruto for a church service pitting Tangatanga against Kieleweke supporters.

Already, leaders have been warning that the country is teetering on the brink and a repeat of what befell the country in 2007-08 is possible if nothing is done urgently to arrest the situation and reset the moral compass.

 

If left unattended, it is feared it the tension will escalate and roll back crucial political developments through the historic handshake between President Uhuru Kenyatta and Opposition chief Raila Odinga

Immediately after March 9, 2018, truce, the tension was palpable in government escalated by suspicion from Ruto allies of a possible betrayal by Uhuru side of Jubilee in 2022.

The mistrust and suspicions in government, compounded by claims of mischief, have combined to poison the tranquillity the country has been enjoying and instead set the nation in an uneasy to frenetic 2022 campaign mode.

The DP has been crisscrossing the country, ostensibly to inspect and launch development projects but along the way, he has as well embarked on his signature Harambee meetings every weekend.

It is seen as a strategy to stay ahead of the pack.

While Ruto has defended his whirlwind tours across the country, a section of politicians have accused him of putting the country on a campaign footing two years off the next election.

Various leaders have come out to condemn what they termed organised groupings mushrooming ahead of the 2022 polls and taking advantage of the heightened political temperatures.

ODM chief Raila Odinga this week condemned the Murang’a deaths and called for an end to the bloodshed.

 

“This spectre of violence and vandalism in the name of a presidential election that is over two years away should be a serious cause of concern for all peace-loving Kenyans,” Raila said in a statement.

“If this continues, and it easily can, it could spiral out of control. Furthermore, the seeds of violence being planted now could easily follow us into that election, with grave consequences. ”

The catchy phrase 'Hustler Movement' adopted by Ruto has been touted as unstoppable by his allies and has caused ripples among his opponents who try to deflate it.

Suba South MP John Mbadi, who is also the ODM national chairman, warned against using such a divisive narrative — hustlers vs dynasties — saying it is fuelling animosity.

“This kind of mobilisation [is not good for the country], this idea of calling youths and telling them that they are different from the rest of Kenyans, that they are hustlers while others are dynasties,” Mbadi said.

But the Ruto side has distanced from the accusations of plotting the Murang’a  violence and instead claimed the chaos had the fingerprints of the state all over it.

Addressing a press conference at Parliament Buildings, MPs allied to the DP said the violence being witnessed in functions organised by the DP are state-sponsored, accusing the Office of the President of using the police and the regional administration to interfere with their functions, then blame violence on them.

"What we are witnessing is state-sponsored violence only targeted at functions attended by the DP. Why now? The DP has all along visited these areas and there was no chaos. Some people in the OP are unhappy with the support and unity the hustler movement has across the country," Kikuyu MP Kimani Ichung'wah said.

On Tuesday, the DP said the skirmishes at Kenol during his visit were a continuation of violence in Kisii, where youths were deployed to cause trouble during his development tours.

"It also happened in Kajiado recently where the provincial (regional) administration was used to intimidate and threaten wananchi from attending my function," Ruto said.

Weighing on the hustler narrative, the constitutional agency charged with cohesion in the country – the National Cohesion and Integration Commission - warned that the hustlers vs dynasties dichotomy mirrored the narrative that preceded the 1994 Rwanda genocide.

 “We are sickened by the blatant manifestations of hatred and intolerance, including by public figures. It is unfortunate that this is happening in the midst of a pandemic that has wreaked havoc on the lives and livelihoods of millions of Kenyans,” NCIC chairman Samuel Kobia said.

“What we are witnessing in the country today is a likely precursor of violent conflicts that would lead to loss of lives, destruction of property and displacement of people such as witnessed during the 2007-08 post-election  violence.”

In 2007-08, Kenya experienced one of the worst bloodletting after a contested presidential election that left at least 1,133 people dead and more than 600,000 displaced from their homes.

The NCIC was conceived after the 2007-08 poll violence to facilitate and promote equality of opportunity, good relations, harmony and peaceful coexistence between the different ethnic, religious and racial communities

Kobia added, “We note with great concern that if the current trajectory is left unattended to, the country could well go the way Rwanda did in 1994.”

The church leaders have also condemned the reemergence of political chaos calling for a law change to make it impossible for politicians to hire youths in the name of providing security in the events.

“We condemn the use of our young people to carry out violence and to carry out actions criminal and evil,” Evangelical Alliance of Kenya chairman Bishop David Oginde said.

“We are asking for the AG and the officials concerned to make the hiring and use of youth for violence to be a criminal offence that will have grave repercussions so that politicians will think twice before they hire.”