Deputy President William Ruto’s ‘hustlers versus dynasties’ campaign slogan could soon land him and his political allies in jail, in addition to being banned from holding public office, if a proposed Bill is passed into law.
Lawmakers have drafted a Bill that imposes severe fines, jail time and makes it a basis for removal from office any leader who propagates ‘class divisions’ in the country.
DP Ruto’s campaign slogan positions ‘hustlers’ as ordinary Kenyans seeking their place on the country’s political high table and ‘dynasties’ as wealthy families that have benefited from rich political heritage and connections, a narrative that critics claim could create a hostile split between the rich and the poor.
Anyone who incites Kenyans along the hustler versus dynasties split could, as per the Bill crafted by Parliament’s National Security Committee, be imprisoned for five years or pay a fine of Sh5 million.
“A person who has been dismissed or removed from office for a contravention of sections 62(1) and 62A(1) is disqualified from holding any other State or public Office,” the proposed National Cohesion And Integration (Amendment) Bill 2021 states.
The Bill, drafted by the National Assembly Security Committee led by Kiambaa MP Paul Koinange, adds social status as a basis for discrimination by amending the NCIC Act 2008.
“A person who utters words intended to incite feelings of contempt, hatred, hostility, violence or discrimination against any person, group or community on the basis of the social status of a person, commits an offence and shall be liable on conviction to a fine not exceeding five million shillings, or to imprisonment for a term not exceeding five years, or both,” the draft law reads.
The law also gives the National Cohesion and Integration Commission additional powers to investigate where there has been incitement on the basis of ethnicity, racial or social status and recommend necessary disciplinary action.
Homa Bay Town MP Peter Kaluma and a member of the committee Monday said there is a proposal to give NCIC prosecutorial powers over hate speech offenders.
“We also want severe punishments to include life in prison for some aggravated cases of incitement and hate speech especially the kind that displaces people or leads to killings,” said Mr Kaluma in an interview.
He said drafting of the legislative proposals will be complete by end of this week, for tabling to the committee and later the House.
“This is not about one person but the whole country and it was done after consultations with NCIC,” he said.
The provision that the law can be used as a basis for removal from public office comes at a time when there have been plans to impeach the deputy president, being fronted by Lugari MP Ayub Savula.
If the Bill is passed and Mr Ruto and his political allies continue with their hustler narrative, they risk being hounded out of office. Article 150 (1) (b) of the Constitution provides that the deputy president can be impeached on grounds of gross violation of the Constitution, crimes under national law and gross misconduct. Any MP who seeks to have the DP removed from office must get the support of one third or 117 of the 349 MPs in the National Assembly before bringing such a motion to the floor of the House.
The Mathira MP Nderitu Gachagua said the hustlers’ slogan is not a rich versus poor narrative but an inspiration message that anyone can make it if they work hard.
“You cannot stop an idea whose time has come,” added Mr Gachagua.
Though the DP ally promised a fight in the House, the Handshake team led by President Kenyatta and the ODM leader have managed to push through previous legislations and changes in House leadership despite opposition from Mr Ruto’s allies.