Lying and distorting facts has been a staple of politics in any society where politics is practiced since the Greeks invented the science.
Indeed, it’s said a lie repeated often enough in politics soon becomes truth in the eyes of those who see or hear it that often, which explains why many a politician resort to the vice especially where truth and facts are not in their favor or favor their opponents.
Kenyan politicians, however, have taken this lying to an extreme that is downright dangerous and could as well lead to a second PEV if not put in check.
How did we get to this point?
This has been a gradual process, starting from the period immediately after independence where there was no lying at all in politics because there was a costly price associated with such lying.
Ironically, there was an even costlier price associated with telling the truth as well such that we had a situation where neither telling a lie nor truth was of interest to those who wished to live another day.
The truth was what KANU said it was as was ably communicated by VOK and whatever existed as media at the time which would dare not question.
There were exceptions but the fact they are non-existent as a media today says it all.
Fast forward to post 1992 and the advent of multi-partyism and you start to see an increase in the level of expression unlike anything even thought of before and in time, politicians and Kenyans in general started expressing themselves more and more and even started demanding for a new constitution to defang the imperial presidency and usher in other institutional reforms.
Demands for other reforms, including freedom of the press were also underway and the only person among those seriously seeking the presidency there is evidence was in the middle and in many times lead in these demands was Prime Minister Raila Amolo Odinga.
After what appeared to be a life-time of struggle, Raila and Kibaki led the nation for the final push that saw not only passage but promulgation of the new constitution in August 2010.
Enshrined in that constitution, is one right that is being abused left, middle and right and that is the right to express oneself freely.
This right, unfortunately, has been mistaken by many to mean the right to lie, distort and malign others when, in fact, that’s not the case.
To be sure, there are laws in the books that even predate the new constitution that protect individuals against defamation and libel but this is not what is going on.
Raila, the unquestionably and without argument the #1 most lied about and maligned Kenyan politician with no one within site in the second spot would have to spend his waking time every day in courts suing people for defamation and character assassination and that’s not worth it, especially given his leadership responsibilities therefore a better solution must be sought and that is simply demanding that our politicians cease forthwith the habit of boldly lying, distorting and maligning others for their shortsighted gratification.
This must start from our Parliament where the Speaker has the responsibility to ensure that our august House is not turned into a cesspool of lies, distortions, forgeries and other despicable acts as we witnessed the other day.
The Speaker has an obligation to not only put an end to this nonsense in Parliament but to discipline those who have defiled our august House with this unprecedented criminal conduct, if anything as signal same will never be tolerated again in the future so others can take notice, if they have not already.
To let this go without any action can only be interpreted as our august House being hopeless in disciplining its members or policing its affairs and that would be fine if it was only about the members but this is about our country and no individual or collective interests in Parliament can be greater than our country.
The Speaker, who is known to be very effective in the managing of the House affairs, must be given the benefit of doubt about this and let’s hope he is doing or will do something about this criminality in Parliament and more likely to come unless the Speaker acts.
President Kibaki, more so than the PM, also has a responsibility to come out strong against these dangerous trending in lies, distortions and forgeries all aimed at maligning Raila in efforts to stop him from being elected as our next president.
It is often claimed that Kibaki is aloof and never bothers with the goings on around him and government but a keen observer would not but disagree.
President Kibaki knows fully well what’s going on and his silence on some of these things is by design but at some point, he must cease to be Kibaki the man and become Kibaki the President and do the right thing for the sake of the country he holds her office as President.
Some decisions are simply above partisan politics and above even individual, personal preferences in as far as they affect our national security and welfare and none can be more exemplar than stopping this dangerous trending in Gestapo like lying and distortions all in the name of trying to prevent one man from being elected president and for no other reason, which is pathetic in by itself.
Politics is about getting out there and making one’s case why he or she is better than the other candidate and letting the voters chose.
Scheming, conniving, lying and distorting simply to stop one from being elected is so backward its a shame its being openly pursued in our beloved country.
The right thing for the president to do now is to tell Uhuru and Ruto to cease telling lies about ICC and definitely not drag our nation into their woes.
There are many Kenyans who would care less if they are tried, found guilty and hanged just as there are many who care that they are not.
The case for whether they are tried, convicted and sentenced to some punishment or not is not going to be decided in the so-called “prayer” rallies but at the Hague where these two and others charged with them should expend their energy trying to convince the ICC they are not guilty as charged.
For Kibaki to remain mum as these two continue to peddle the lies they are about the ICC and how Raila is responsible for their being charged there when everyone knows that not to be the case, Kibaki is either tactfully endorsing the lie or is acquiescing to its being peddled to an unwary public.
Neither is a presidential thing to do, especially knowing how we got here.
The media bears a huge responsibility as well in making sure they call out or at least point out when these pathological liar politicians are engaged in the vice which thus far they seem to engage in without consequence but that should and must change.
There is no question these politicians so boldly lie and distort not just because they believe those who hear them are illiterate and incapable of knowing the difference, but also because they know the media which is more informed and should know better really could care less in even as bothering to point out the lies.
Indeed, a case can be made in at least one of the media houses, there is a concerted effort to actively promote the lies and distortions against Raila, which is simply a shame, if not pathetic.
Finally, but not least, as the recipient targets of these lies and distortions, the Kenyan news and information consumer must reject these lies and now allow themselves to become easy targets.
This is not to say there is not a disturbingly large ill-informed part of the population that would buy hook, line and sinker what Uhuru and Ruto say regardless of its truthfulness or lack thereof but a whipping to sensibleness as suggested herein must by definition take care of that.
The point being, we must as a nation say enough is enough and make sure the likes of Uhuru and Ruto, along with their supporters and sympathizers know that even though the constitution guarantees freedom of expression and assembly, neither right can be abused or used to bring about disunity or chaos, let alone violence in the country.
That’s a resolve anyone who cares about our country must join in agreeing and committing to and even though those inflicted with the disease of hate and tribalism may find it hard to agree, they must force themselves to do so for it is, in the end, what is going to save our country whether they join in agreeing or not.