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80-year-old Speaker of Migori County Assembly,  Charles Owino Likowa was chatting a damsel (24-years-old) when he accidentally sent the heart-to-heart message to a public Whatsapp group asking for more.

This triggered my thinking.

A few nights ago screenshots of a private WhatsApp conversation between a Siaya Member of Parliament were shared in various groups as evidence of the MP having entered the panic mode and asking his brigade to un-board from a heated WhatsApp group.

It is true that things are not auguring well for the Alego-Usonga MP, Samuel Onunga Atandi, since the entry of a nondescript youth, Kevin Odhiambo into the race for the Legislative seat.


Mr Kevin Odhiambo has three strong advantages which Atandi’s closest rival in the last General Elections did not have: bottomless troves of money, the age factor and he comes from West Alego which has been Mr Atandi’s political bastion for more than six years now.

West Alego also lost the seat when Washington Omondi Muluan was trounced by then youthful and monied Samuel Onunga Atandi in the 2017 polls — it will be a grudge encounter, therefore, in 2027.

Back to the screenshot of a WhatsApp conversation between Atandi and his henchmen talking about vacating the ODM Party WhatsApp group which has been infiltrated by sangwenyas (digital Luo verb for team or troupe: as in adherent, follower or supporter) whose political allegiance is for Kevin.

Section 62 of the Data Protection Act, 2019 clearly stipulates that it is an offence to share any personal information to a group without the subject consent and the same is punishable by imprisonment and/or a fine of upto KES 30,000,000!

Firstly, what is the Data Protection Act and how does it affect you?

The Data Protection Act (2019)  came into force on 25th November, 2019 and is now the primary statute on data protection in Kenya. It gives effect to Article 31 c) and d) of the Constitution of Kenya, 2010 (right to privacy).

In October 2020, by virtue of the powers conferred to him under the Act, the Cabinet Secretary for Information, Communication, Technology, Innovation and Youth Affairs gazetted the Data Protection (Civil Registration) Regulations, 2020. The Regulations apply to civil registries involved in processing personal data for registrations such as births, deaths, adoptions, persons, passports and marriages. This includes the sharing of academic certificates or transcripts and medical information without authorization of affected parties.

It goes on to detail where, when, how and why it’s an offence to share, process or mutilate personal data placed in one’s custody either through trust or confidentiality or by dint of one occupying an office.

In simple terms the Data Protection Act (interpreted) says we cannot share in a WhatsApp group information entrusted to us confidentially (if and when we know very well that such information has the potential to escalate into defamatory rumours beyond the group). Public Officers, including Members of Parliament, enjoy specific privileges under the Act.

Secondly, the Alego-Usonga MP has made history as being the first Legislator since the promulgation of the 2010 Constitution to break the one-term jinx and get elected twice; by all means he knows the ropes and consequently deserves respect.

Like several politicians from the region, however, the MP is recently falling prey to mistrust and surrounding himself with mediocrity. For that WhatsApp screenshot to see the light of day it was obviously shared by a sangwenya whose interests were not addressed.

Two vocal ladies who were former aides and were recently blocked from accessing the MP may not make up the crux of his voting block but they are making too much noise out here. If I were the MP, I would reinstate them. I would also unblock journalists and other small people whom I used as stepping-stones to reach the pinnacle of breaking the logo-dichiel-jinx.   

I would change my tact in dealing with people from West Alego — usually they don’t forget. One Edwin Ochieng Yinda learnt that too late, but that’s a story for another day.

I would even sit down with the elders from Kaugagi, Kanyinek and Komenya to map out strategies before this thing gets out of hand.

Yes, I would do all that, and some more. But since I’m not the MP let me open my windows and let in a draught of cool air — it’s a rather hot night for April.

As for the 80-year-old Migori Speaker, if he has a wife, then I don’t envy him — he certainly has a lot of explanation to do…..


Editorial Monday 1 April 2024

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