Monday, August 12, 2013

Strip them all of their armed guards.

Rasna Warah asks the question that we all refuse to confront: Where's the moral compass that will steer us out of this morass? (Daily Nation, 12/08/13) The example she confronts us  with should be pursued to its extreme conclusion: why do we spend vast sums of national treasure keeping elected men and women safe from the very people who elected them?

When Daniel Toroitich arap Moi and Mwai Kibaki left office they left safe and secure with vast wealth that could sustain hundreds of thousands. Yet, because they had been Presidents they were awarded what amounts to a moral slap in our collective faces. There is absolutely no reason why Messrs Moi and Kibaki need to trouble the National Treasury by cashing in their pension cheques or snaffling the millions of shillings we pay them in allowances. They hold no national positions; for all intents and purposes, they have completely withdrawn from public life. If we wish to demonstrate our gratitude for their stewardship of the ship of state, we can distribute commemorative plaques on the anniversary of their installment as president. Handing over tens of millions of shillings to billionaire retired presidents until the day their shuffle off their mortal coils is perverse in a nation that cannot care for its weak, needy, sick and downtrodden.

Even with that longwinded diatribe, it is the incumbent elected class that takes the biscuit. In a nation where men, women and children live under the constant fear that they may be felled by a criminal's bullet or a policeman's...or both...it is completely unfathomable why we will spend billions of shillings over the next five years keeping our elected representatives safe from their constituents. We will assign "State" officers police bodyguards; but we will do nothing to protect the women and children living in our "informal" settlements from the parasites that prey on them. How can the Cabinet Secretary for Labour, Social Security and Services continue to call on the services of the all the armed policemen assigned to hi when he knows that women and girls living in Kibera, Korogocho, the Mathare Valley, Dandora, the various Mukuru settlements...cannot leave their hovels at night for fear of being sexually assaulted? How can the Cabinet Secretary for the Interior and Coordination of National Government? Or the Attorney-General? Or the Director of Public Prosecutions? Or the Speakers of Parliament? Or the Governor of Nairobi?

Our priorities have been subsumed to the greedy needs of the men and women who seek to reign over us. Our government has forgotten that the power and authority it exercises comes from us, the people. We are the sovereign power of this nation. We deserve, more than they do, the safety and security that they enjoy at our expense.

If Kenyans want to see an end to runaway crime, they should try a simple experiment. Retain security for the President and Deputy President, the Cabinet Secretaries of the Interior, Defence, Foreign Affairs and the National Treasury, the Chief Justice and the Chief of Defence Forces. Everyone else, including Governors, Parliamentary Party Leaders, the Speakers of Parliament and the county assemblies, the heads of parastatals...the whole lot, should be stripped of the armed police dogging their every step in the name of bodyguarding and watch how swiftly they act in concert to bring down the violent crime rate in Kenya. It is only when they face the same personal security challenges we do that they will concentrate their minds in finding a solution to all that ails us. Until they walk a mile in our shoes, they will continue to behave as if they are the Kings of England and we are serfs to be ignored, bullied or both, simultaneously.

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