Allow divergent opinion on BBI
Any democratic,civil and open society allows room for debate on any issue affecting the society. Building Bridges Initiative (BBI) should be carefully scrutinised, questioned and where things are not clear clarifications must be provided. It is unfair to claim that BBI is an unstoppable train which has left the station whereas Kenyans have not read the document and understood it. We can not claim the ongoing public and “church rallies” as sufficient platforms for public awareness and engagement.
Pulpit and dias proclamation for and/or against the document should not be assumed to represent Kenya’s sentiment of the document. In equal measure, public disagreement with the document partially or fully should be respected. Those who are opposing or questioning BBI should not be made to feel unpatriotic and/or less Kenyans. We must learn to tolerate different opinions even when we do not agree. Freedom of expression and opinion as enshrined in our Constitution’s bill of right must be protected and promoted at all time. Kenyans who are opposed to BBI should have the document and its idesa forced down their throat. Democratic processes should be employed to ascertain the liking or disliking of BBI; with that the majority will have their way and minority guaranteed to have their say.
The idea that BBI must be accepted by each and every Kenyan is creating jittery and uncalled for bullying. There are instances where leaders who are opposed to BBI have been humiliated in public and ridiculed. Kenyans on the ground are not aware of the provisions of the document, the direction of the process and what the regional recommendations made in the rallies are about.
Majority of Kenyans are now treating BBI with suspicion wondering if the much celebrated process is a political tool for expanding the government to accomodate more politicians. In the recent past there has been complaints from different sections that have claimed to have been left out of the process. The National Youth Bunge Association has for example decried that the youth have not been consulted in the process. The mwananchi has also not been supplied with copies of the initial BBI report to read nor has the Haji taskforce done much in conducting civic education on the ground for the common mwananchi. The BBI process has been hijacked by politicians who are now using it to flex their muscles and name calling each other. The focus has shifted from a citizen centered process to politicians’ tug of war item.
Article 33 of the Constitution provides for freedom of expression which includes the right to receive, impart and seek information or ideas. This means that individuals and/or groups of people have got the freedom to express their opinion, thoughts and disagreement with BBI provided they do this within the realm of the law. The form of censorship that is being employed by pro BBI contravenes the law as it curtails the citizens freedom to express themselves.
The legitimacy of BBi will be achieved by having a genuine open conversation, civic education and allowing room for scrutiny. A process that claims to be working towards an inclusive country must subject itself to the criticism of those that it wants to bring together. The my way of the highway approach that is being taken by the pro BBI team will not achieve national unity. The approach is likely to divide the nation further. The handling of opposing opinions must be handled with respect; different opinions should also not be equated to disrespect too.