Bring back the civil society



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A report released this week on the performance of the civil society presents a worrying scenario.

The report investigated how the civil society has fared since the March 2018 ‘Handshake’ between erstwhile political protagonists President Uhuru Kenyatta and Opposition leader Raila Odinga.

The study, “Civil society and the post-handshake politics in Kenya”, indicates that the political truce, as significant as it was, has spawned a dispensation that undermines democratic and independent institutions.

That should worry all of us. It talks of State capture of the civil society, weakening its oversight and advocacy role.

The organisations and their leadership are subjected to selective punitive measures such as freezing of bank accounts on the pretext of fighting terrorism, arbitrary arrests, denial of work permits, travel restrictions and extra-judicial killings.

The civil society has played a catalytic role in entrenching good governance with the highest point being Kenya’s “Second Liberation”.

Alongside religious groups and opposition politicians, the organisations bravely took on the oppressive Kanu single-party regime and successfully pushed for multiparty democracy.

It was also at the heart of the clamour for a new constitution.

The civil society, including non-governmental organisations (NGOs), provide the much-needed checks and balances in the operations and activities of government agencies.

They positively influence the work of government and hold it accountable. This is why we are concerned about the waning fortunes of the civil society.

Governance and other activities that relate to running a country are too important to be left in the hands of unchecked selfish politicians.

The civil society should carry out its activities without inhibition.


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