Article 37 of the Constitution Kenya states that every person has the right, peacefully and unarmed, to assemble, to demonstrate, to picket and to present petitions to public authorities. Article 33, on the other hand states that every person has the right to freedom of expression.
Politicians have taken advantage of this provision in the constitution to rally their supporters into the streets, something that has been impacting negatively to the economy. Demonstrations are allowed in the constitution but those taking part have to be peaceful and unarmed.
On Tuesday, demonstration rocked most parts if the country including the capital city, Nairobi. Businesses were literary on a standstill for more than three hours as police engaged demonstrators in running battles.
The Central Business District was a no-go zone and economic activities were hugely affected for the better part of the day.
This is not the first time demonstrations have affected businesses in Nairobi and other parts of the country. The culture of violent political demonstrations is slowly being entrenched among Kenyans and if nothing is done to control the situation, the country will pay the ultimate price economically.
Disadvantages of violent demonstrations
Whenever we have demonstrations in Kenya, especially those that are politically engineered, property is often destroyed.
Goons disguised as demonstrators usually take the advantage of the situation to attack business premises with an aim to loot and destroy property.
Business people are always at the receiving end of the wrath of demonstrators who attack them and either steal or burn down their businesses.
Lives have been lost through violent demonstration. During demonstrations in Kenya, the police are often called in to calm the situation.
The confrontation between the law enforcers and the demonstrators hardly ends in a peaceful manner. The running battles have often led to people stumbling on themselves as they run, being shot or being beaten by demonstrators.
Demonstration have always painted Kenya in bad light to the international communities. This has often scared away some potential investors especially during a political season.
Most of the demonstrations in the country are politically engineered and every election year, the rate of them happening is always overwhelming. Investors often follow the political events in the country keenly with most of them resorting to a wait-and-see attitude before deciding whether they should invest or stop all the same.
How to avoid violent demonstrations
Leaders should be responsible and act in a manner that is stipulated under Chapter Six, Article 73 of the Constitution of Kenya. A legislation should be enacted so that leaders who call for violent demonstrations are held personally responsible for the outcomes of the same.
Kenyans should be enlightened and be made to realize that not everything is solved through violence. The culture of dialogue and peaceful solution of issues should be encouraged.
The need to have peaceful demonstrations should be stressed. This can easily be achieved if a course was introduced in schools to teach young Kenyans on the importance of nationhood, peace and stability and why violent demonstrations will never yield any positive results.