• How can a man, who is arguably the most visible and active politician in Kenya be in the business of seeking cheap publicity?
Kenya is indeed a country of interesting twists and there are things that unite us like football just like there are certain things that baffle as much. Politics is just at the top of the things that baffle in this country. One day we are all one, celebrating Harambee Stars win over Tanzania, and the next day we are perceiving totally different things when news emerges of a plot to assassinate the Deputy President.
Let us face it, politics is indeed making the worst of us and the earlier we embarked on politics of issues the better for this country. In fact, the earlier we ran away from politicians who want to politicize serious issues for their own trivial expediency the better. Opinion has been divided on whether the threats of assassination are real or hyperbolic stunts by the DP’s people meant to attract attention, publicity and sympathy.
Granted, politicians worth their while stir up the public space to call attention to themselves and use the resultant publicity to advance their political careers. A few have built little political capital here and there by roping in Raila Amollo Odinga’s name. Well, need I say that a lot of them have lost relevance and only one, who failed in his bid to win the Kakamega Gubernatorial race seems like the last man standing. I am digressing. Back to the DP’s assassination threat.
How can a man, who is arguably the most visible and active politician in Kenya be in the business of seeking cheap publicity? In fact, from where I sit, the DP needs to tone down on his visibility and amplify his legitimacy and credibility. Therefore, the whole idea of seeking publicity and sympathy is superfluous and should be dismissed with cost.
In fact, we need to situate this issue outside politics and address the crux of the matter. Former Subukia MP Koigi Wamwere, who is ideologically cut from a totally different cloth from the DP, William Ruto, avers that from a historical perspective no Kenyan should take assassination claims lightly. From Tom Mboya and JM Kariuki to The Rt. Reverend Alexander Muge; he lays a strong argument that we have had assassination scripts that should inform how to handle assassination claims lest we fall to machinations of callous people out here. In journalism and generally in investigations the state agencies, and the media as the fourth estate, have absolute and qualified privileges respectively to investigate allegations, proof of allegations notwithstanding.
The onus is on them to publish the findings in the interest of the public.The DP’s assassination issue speaks to a very high level of public interest given the office he occupies. Secondly, his super visibility in the public domain clearly indicates that the allegations are free from malice simply because a man already known all over the country would not be in the business of seeking cheap publicity. Not publicity touching on life. The crux here is that even if the allegations are hyperbolic or turn out to be untrue, or are incapable of proof; the public has the right to know the truth and the DP’s human rights would be violated if the investigative agencies fail to investigate it as a public interest issue.
The right to life is apolitical. Public interest has been vividly encapsulated in The British Press Complaints Commission. First the public has a right to know anything that touches on crime or serious misdemeanor and in this case, we are dealing with allegations of a serious crime and the little issue of development meetings in some very interesting locations. Secondly, public interests revolve around issues that would help protect public health, safety and other rights. To this end, the right to life must be protected and the public’s right to know the truth also remains sacrosanct; the onus is on the investigative agencies to expedite the investigations and help Kenyans understand whether the allegations are true and go ahead and protect the DP who has his right to life while punishing the guilty.
On the other hand, if the allegations are spurious and malicious the right of the individual mentioned should also be protected and their images protected from malicious slurs. Finally, the statements or actions of individuals or organizations who use public money or who are in the public eye constitute public interest and herein the assassination attempt story touches on individuals we are paying handsomely to deliver on the Jubilee promises.We cannot afford to be divided over the gravity of the issue and politics aside. In alluding to Martin Luther King Jr.
It is important to remember that a threat to anyone’s life, especially a top politician, is a threat to anyone’s right to life in Kenya. We cannot tread that line.