Monday, September 15, 2014

A purge is the only way.

A year ago when the President made one of his "promises" regarding the "fight against corruption" I warned you that:
The solution, as with all things, is simple in theory, and hairy to implement in reality. Simply enforce the laws of the land as they were meant to be enforced. There should be no special favours or considerations. If you are caught in wrongdoing, only a good lawyer should get you off. If you wish to trade with the government, you should not sweeten your tender with a briefcase full of dollars. And so on and so forth. Theory? Good. Implementation? When hell freezes over.
Jasper Mbiuki, the secretary, Legislative Affairs and Regulatory Compliance, in the Office of the President, has decided to get in on the Give-The-President-Something-To-Do bandwagon: Uhuru Kenyatta is single-handedly going to win the War on Drugs.

We will not quibble overmuch regarding the excessively legalistic interpretation of court order and the like except to say, the President is not a magistrate or a judge, and the president does not have the authority to demand the destruction of narcotic drugs (unless they are interdicted in the high seas by the Kenya Defence Forces) or vessels transporting drugs. He should also familiarise himself intimately with the provisions of the narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Act of 1994, especially with Part III. I wonder whether he will revise his expert opinion regarding the President's powers regarding seizure and destruction of narcotics-bearing vessels.

Mr Mbiuki is a veteran of the #TeamJubilee election campaign of 2012 and 2013. He is not a professional civil servant; his understanding of the public service leads him to make obvious errors of perception. He must have observed what bBaba Moi and Baba Jimmi got up to and forgetting that the Constitution today is not the one that prevailed yesterday, seems to paint the picure of a President who can "lead from the front" in the War on Drugs.

The President is not the Inspector-General of Police, the Director of Criminal Investigations, the Director of National Intelligence or the Chief of Defence Forces. It is only the Chief of Defence Forces that the President, as Commander-in-Chief of the Kenya Defence Forces, can command to do anything with the caveat that the orders must be lawful and in writing. The entire policing structure is insulated from the orders of the President or anybody, bar only an order of the courts.

The War on Drugs is not about the President blowing up things in the high seas; it is about a seamless collaboration among the National Police, the National Intelligence Service, the Directorate of Immigration and the Kenya Defence Forces, not to mention collaboration with similar agencies in neighbouring nations and global counter-narcotics organisations. It will mean working with the Directorates of Public health in the 47 counties to implement a proper policy on public education regarding the risks associated with illegal drugs use. 

If the War on Drugs, like the anti-poaching efforts of the 1980s and 1990s, were to succeed, it would not do so simply because the President has decided to scuttle a ship and its cargo in the high seas. It will only succeed when it is made abundantly clear to the doubtful that those who have taken a less-than-robust approach in the fight, that their days are numbered. Those that have taken bribes to look the other day are no longer welcome. Should they be caught, they can expect the full might of the State to come down on them like the proverbial tonne of bricks. Those who have "gone slow", who have compromised, who have vacillated and who have misread the presidential spine should be encouraged to find greener pastures elsewhere.

Blowing up things is what small children do. Is Mr Mbiuki suggesting that the presidency is engaged in an infantile exercise as part of the war on Drugs? We know why we are losing the war: corrupt public officers, including those in the disciplined services. And we know fatter salaries will not solve the problem. If Mr Mbiuki and the President want to win, it is not enough to blow things up. They must inspire us. They can only do so by purging every sclerotic part of the State's firmament. Purge and purge ruthlessly. It is the only way.

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