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KBC’s nice little spin for DP

Unless you are a journalist who just landed from Mars, you already know something about the rule of law debate now raging in Kenya. A lot of concern has been expressed that the Constitution and the law, which are the foundation of the nation, are under threat.

The best political philosophers around will assure you that the rule of law is never under threat from the so-called “ordinary citizens” (are there extra-ordinary citizens?). Rather, it is the impunity of the people in power that threatens the rule of law.

Everyone is subject to the law at all times. But if some powerful persons begin to act as if the law doesn’t matter, that raises at least two problems: One, it is the law that creates the positions those persons hold. Impunity ultimately undermines their own authority and delegitimizes such public officials in the eyes of the citizens.

The second – and bigger – problem is that when public officials willfully hold the law in contempt, they have no reason for expecting anyone else to be subject to the law. That puts the entire nation on a slippery slope towards anarchy.

That, we suppose, is why Deputy President William Ruto last week called for an end to impunity. According to the public broadcaster, KBC, Ruto asked all Kenyans to respect the rule of law regardless of their positions in society.

“In a thinly veiled attack on the opposition for its recent mock presidential swearing in, the Deputy President said the country was governed by rules and the Constitution, saying all Kenyans irrespective of their political affiliations must obey the law”, according to the public broadcaster.

Alas! How did the great scribes at KBC figure out that Ruto’s remarks were a “thinly veiled attack” on the opposition?

Look, the DP asks all Kenyans to respect the rule of all. He points out that no one, regardless of position in society, is above the law. And then KBC goes and tells its audience that the DP had the opposition in mind? Come on!

What’s more, the mock presidential swearing in that this report references has not been determined to be unlawful. KBC’s claim is therefore not factual.

KBC failed its audience by not pointing out that it is, in fact, the government that has come under criticism for undermining the rule of law. Government officials have disobeyed numerous court orders. There is the letter Jubilee Secretary General Raphael Tuju recently wrote to Chief Justice David Maraga, which was widely seen as attempted intimidation of the Judiciary. And who told off Supreme Court judges as “wakora”, remember? It is a matter of public record.

It appears rather obvious that KBC’s reference to the mock swearing in was diversionary. Yet KBC is a public broadcaster – and not a state broadcaster. Get the difference?

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