The mayhem that has led us to where we are at now strikes again.
“Citizen participation is a device whereby public officials induce nonpublic individuals to act in a way the officials desire.” – Daniel Patrick Moynihan
The Task Force on Sustainable Consumptive Wildlife Utilization which was set up a while back to discuss whether the country should consider ‘hunting’, calling it consumptive use of wildlife, have set due diligence to include the public as they please. I find our country very interesting when it comes to matters of public participation. It is decided that once the notice has been placed in the dailies that is where the work ends. Sometimes there is not enough time to respond to the call. Whether the public gets to see it or not is up to us.
Considering the fact that young people today rarely buy the newspaper with the availability of online platforms and even having access to the newspaper online, why are Public Participation call outs only placed in the dailies alone without a notification on the same in the age of Social Media? The best government entities could do is advertise on platforms that can be accessed by at least 50% of the people whether they have mobile phones or not. I have a problem with people who reason that matters which affect communities who have no access to the internet, using this platform is an irrelevant source of information. Those who have access to the internet come from somewhere.
However, with whatever motive public participation call outs are set in the dailies, Kenyans will be lucky to pick up on it before it is too late. It is clear public participation, a constitutional right is not seriously upheld by the government today. This, in itself, is a right Kenyans have been withdrawn from in terms of reach and access to information. This is what happens when the state chooses to make decisions on their own.
After the Task Force on Sustainable Consumptive Wildlife Utilization decided to publish in the dailies a public notification notice on the same, it was clear that the even if the people’s freedom of expression is taken into account, the questions asked are biased towards one side. The call out was also not in due time. With just a month, how was the public going to be able to respond and understand the questions, not forgetting reading all the laws related to consumptive wildlife? The questions by themselves were favoured towards the so called consumptive use ideology.
Thankfully, the public participation call-out was withheld after a public uproar. Benson Okita, the Chair of the Task Force said “Dear all, I wish to express the Task Force’s sincere apologies for erroneously publishing the questions that accompanied this notice to the public on consultations on wildlife utilization. PLEASE IGNORE THOSE QUESTIONS. The Task Force will make the corrections in due course. The Task Force seeks the public’s views and opinions on the task at hand as per the published Terms of Reference. We regret the erroneous publication of those questions.”
Also read: White Supremacism and Trophy Hunting
For such an important law that could change the state of the country’s natural resources, if at all it ever comes to effect, for it to be taken so lightly like what is going to be said by the public is not as important, it is saddening. Let us remain hopeful that the next set of questions will one, be published in reasonable time to allow quantifiable responses and two, be accommodating to every single person in the Republic of Kenya regardless of their stand on the consumptive use of Wildlife (let’s just call it what it is – hunting).