Monday, September 22, 2014

Paranoia as a leadership tool.

The Government of Kenya has always been a very paranoid institution. Its paranoia was expressed in different ways, some creative, many crude. Its most effective, if that be the adjective, explorer of its paranoia was the provincial administration. It was a presidential "the walls have ears" facility of remarkable gossipy fecundity. It was the progenitor of death and destruction on a colossal scale. It received a plan all of its own when a new constitution was mooted. And yet four years down the constitutional road, the provincial administration thrives. It has proven to be remarkably resilient. Yet it has also changed and its changes are not for the better.

When we promulgated a constitution in 2010, one of its key elements was the restructuring of the provincial administration. The original idea was to disband it entirely. But the Committee of Experts, just like all other institutions in Kenya, was captured by the securocrats in Mwai Kibaki's government and persuaded that in a time of transition, in a hostile neighbourhood, and a bitterly contested election down the road, the people needed a tried-and-tested institution to assure them of their safety. Thus we ended up with the tepid "restructuring" clause, and not even in the body of the Constitution but as a section in the Sixth Schedule.

Since the promulgation, the pervasive growth of the securocracy has been unrelenting. The rebranded provincial administration is here to stay. Whatever the civil society industry may have wanted, this vestigial artifact of the colonial era is here to stay. Its tentacles are spreading too. The Special Branch was completely reformed under the imaginative Wilson Boinet. There are calls for a reversal of the reforms; there are those that would like to see the dreaded Special Branch resurrected in its original form. The National Intelligence Service that the retired Brig Gen Boinet established is looked at with suspicion by those who do not have an idea about what an intelligence service does. The newly appointed Philip Kameru should keep this in mind as he sorts out the inter-agency relationships with the rest of the securocracy.

In recent months it has become clear that security challenges have overwhelmed the National Executive. This might be an erroneous view; after all, the paranoid securocrats will not tom-tom their successes because quite frequently, their successes come at the expense of the people. Human rights abuses, that phrase that is the bread and butter of Boniface Mwangi and those of his ilk in the civil society industry, define the securocracy and maintain their paranoia at an extremely high level. In response to these challenges, rather than clear up the operational deficiencies they face by streamlining operations, reducing reporting levels and decentralising decision-making for efficiency and speed, securocrats are demanding ever greater, undefined, powers whose utility remains murky at best. It is why in national intelligence there are calls to grant intelligence officers the authority to arrest or detain, reforms in national policing seem to have ceased, and the Inspector-General is being placed in charge of non-police units such as the National Youth Service, the Kenya Forest Service and the Kenya Wildlife Service and all their disciplined personnel and equipment.

The paranoia of senior government officials leads them to see conspiracies where none exist. It creates monsters where there are none. The only reason why the Leader of the Majority Party in the National Assembly and like-minded windbags are extremely worried about the ruling of the International Criminal Court regarding the presence of the President at the status conference at The Hague in October. And why Isaac Ruto looks as if he is going to bust a gut over the political theatre by the Majority Leader. And why the Pesa Mashinani campaign has spooked so many national government windbags.

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