Politicians in Homa Bay County are on the spot over social media bullying after it emerged that they are increasingly hiring tech savvy youths to attack and malign opponents on social media.
Consequently, County Commissioner Yatich Kipkemei has put both bloggers and politicians on notice, warning them of arrest should they be found culpable.
According to Mr Kipkemei, his office has received numerous complaints of young people being used by local political leaders to spread lies and intimidate people online.
He has instructed security agencies to arrest those who will be found guilty — both the microbloggers and politicians who hire them — of spreading false messages about others on digital platforms.
“Police have been directed to arrest any youth who will use his or her phone or computer to insult other political leaders,” he said at a youth meeting organised by County Youths Affairs Director Elector Opar.
A number of political leaders in Homa Bay have been accused of paying people to use social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter and WhatsApp groups to discredit opponents.
They are said to go as far as digging up and exposing personal information online.
Some also engage in blackmailing and cyberbullying leaders, especially female politicians.
Homa Bay Woman Representative Gladys Wanga and Rangwe MP Lilian Gogo are some of the leaders who have been victims of the social media intimidation tactics.
The County Commissioner has told off politicians, while asking them to find other ways of solving their differences rather than using local youths to do their bidding.
He says security officers are now monitoring social media posts of youths perceived to be allied to some leaders in the county.
The meeting was attended by the County Police Commander Esther Seroney, DCI boss Charles Kanyaura, Homa Bay director of Children’s Affairs Peter Kutere and Nyanza Regional Youth Affairs Coordinator Augustine Mayabi.
Political leaders who have been victims of social media attacks have also been asked to report to the police so their cases can be investigated.
As for Homa Bay youths, Ms Seroney urged them to make good use of their platforms rather using them to help others settle political scores.
“Youths should focus on how they can use their talents to find and create jobs for themselves. Politicians will easily dump them after misusing them,” she said.
Ms Opar and Mr Mayabi also urged them to apply for loans offered by the government to start businesses.