The National Cohesion and Integration Commission (NCIC) has urged political leaders to tolerate and embrace divergent views and opinions for the sake of peace in the country.
Commissioner Dorcas Kedogo said to sustain the prevailing peace and enhance democracy during the anticipated Building Bridges initiative (BBI) referendum, and the 2022 general election, Kenyan leaders especially the political class, require a high level of tolerance to divergent views.
Speaking in Eldoret during a sensitization workshop for journalists, Commissioner Kedogo said it was not just the leaders’ responsibility to exercise tolerance for differing opinions, but also every Kenyan, individually and collectively, irrespective of their political or ethnic dissimilarities.
“Where there are divergent views or opinions, our leaders should learn to seek civil ways to resolve the differences instead of using political platforms to utter negative utterances with undertones that may insinuate humiliation to any community,” she said.
The post-election violence witnessed in 2007/08 were spiked by careless political utterances by a section of politicians that incited communities to fight,” she observed.
“Although every Kenyan has a right to freedom of speech as enshrined in the constitution, the freedom should not infringe on the rights of other people,” she added.
Ms. Kedogo further said the commission had embarked on a nationwide training and sensitization campaign to enlighten Kenyans on the dangers of hate speech.
“We are conducting civic education to different stakeholders on how to foster peace by being sensitive to the careless talk which may breed violence in our country. This is after we launched our peace building roadmap to 2022 that will ensure free and fair elections devoid of fear of violence.”
The commissioner who was flanked by NCIC Programmes and Technical Services Director Millicent Okatch said political leaders fond of fanning hate speech were in breach of Chapter 6 of the constitution on leadership and integrity.
She said NCIC was discussing with the ethics and anti-corruption commission (EACC) on the possibility of NCIC being included in the vetting of leaders in the future.
“We want to encourage that NCIC be included in vetting and issuing clearance certificates to political leaders and other leaders in the public service. This will be a step in the right direction towards implementing chapter six of the constitution,” she said.
If involved in the vetting process, she added NCIC will prepare a checklist on how these leaders have been behaving in embracing diversity and tolerating divergent opinions.
By Kiptanui Cherono