The National Cohesion and Integration Commission (NCIC) recent report is troubling. It revealed that two out of ten Kenyans distrust each other. Trust, which was measured against six other pillars used to gauge national cohesion, recorded 43.7 per cent.
Kenya’s mutual suspicions are stoked by land grievances, youth unemployment, growing drug and substance abuse, delinquency and crime, food insecurity, income inequality and poor infrastructure.
Speaking at the launch of the report, NCIC chairman Francis ole Kaparo noted that institutions forming the Government are leading in the gloomy state of the country. He cited the turf wars between the Senate and the National Assembly, and also the differences between the Executive and the Judiciary. Other factors of mistrust include issues of land, cattle rustling, historical injustices, marginalization and unequal sharing of the national cake.
By the look of the issues, it is evident that they are systemic, institutional and historical. This is the main reason why Parliament has the greatest role in making Kenya cohesive. In its oversight role, it must ensure that resources are allocated correctly among all and where necessary positive discrimination applied to those who have historically been marginalized.
In its legislative role, these elected leaders need to pass laws that will promote equity and address various violations of the past regime. For instance, this offers the opportunity to call for the full implementation of the Truth, Justice and Reconciliation Commission (TJRC). Land injustices need processes that are being worked on by the National Land Commission but squabbles over mandate with the perception that MPs are taking sides do not instill the necessary confidence in the process.
Representation of the people must be informed by what the electorates want addressed. Parliamentarians exercise this function through motions and statements in the flow of the House and also recommendations directed to respective government organs.
Hon. Kaparo reckoned that availing opportunities like jobs is a clear way of ensuring cohesion is enhanced. Parliament has a role in driving the country to this direction. In their interactions with the electorate, they meet and feel their despair and suffering and should enumerate these issues in ways that will give real hope and solutions to the people.
The Commission conceptualized social cohesion to include trust, peace, equity, diversity, prosperity and national identity. These issues are intertwined. A peaceful society largely feels equitable in terms of resources and access to them among its diverse populace. If the people feel they belong to one nation, the country will prosper.
In his speech when releasing the report, the Chief Justice aptly stated that “division is the currency of politics. The issue of governance is only held by the elite and they are the architects of what we see today.”
Parliamentarians can sometimes be reckless in their public pronouncements especially in public rallies. This causes division among Kenyans whom highly regard their leaders as their saviors.
Honorable members, plenty can be found within our borders with your intervention. Ama vipi?