Friday, May 22, 2015

Dreams turn to ash.

There are many kinds of secrets in the government, but the ones that seem to keep securocrats awake at night have nothing to do with the safety of the people or the security of the nation. The secrets that keep them from the comforts of their beds are, in the order of importance, the various fates of the Commander-in-Chief, the unknowable fates of other lesser elected representatives, the fate of billion-shilling tenders, saving face when they screw up, and keeping up appearances.

I do not remember the securocracy being roused or riled when Ethiopian forces (or armed forces from Ethiopia) laid siege to a police station in Kenya's forgotten North on Monday and Tuesday. Do you? I am unsurprised about the spectacular opacity regarding the Shabaab siege of Yumbis, Amuma and Damajeley. Between the Ethiopian invasion and the Yumbis, Amuma and Damajeley siege, the Inspector-General and the idiots in his high command have fallen in love with another plan to secure Parliament Road and Harambee Avenue. Other than an "everything is under control" non-message from the securocracy, do you have any confidence that these people know what they are doing?

Barack Obama, the most powerful Luo politician in the world, will come to visit in July. I imagine Inspector-General Boinett and his boys want o demonstrate that they care for Cousin Barry's welfare and that they would be mortified if he had a very unpleasant experience because we don't know anything about security. That may explain why where once traffic flowed smoothly, even by Nairobi's standards, there is nothing but gridlock on Parliament Road and Harambee Avenue. In addition to the continuing land-grab by Boinett's police, Cousin Barry's Secret Service will surely be impressed by the arrangements so far.

If there is one person who can lead the way in reassuring Kenyans it is the Commander-in-Chief. I don't mean he becomes the mourner-in-chief like Bill Clinton; I mean that when it comes to the overweening secrecy that shrouds his government, he could make the unilateral decision to let it all hang out, warts and all. He can keep a hold of the secrets that keep his ass from getting shot at by the Shabaab's fighters; but, surely, he has no reason to keep secret the list of advisors and consultants his government has engaged, does he? He doesn't really have to keep his draft policies secret anymore, not if he wants our help in achieving the goals of his manifesto. All this digital-government talk of his is all hot air if we can't even get pdf versions of his anodyne policies.

The secrecy at the heart of the government ignores advances in information technology that have rendered much of that secrecy redundant. It is counterproductive for a self-proclaimed digital government not to publish all its non-securo-paranoid papers. It only fosters suspicion and mistrust. If we have an disaster preparedness plan for schools, universities, malls, whatever, publish it. If we have a plan to decongest Nairobi, publish it. If we have a plan to make room for clandestine liaisons in Kileleshwa, publish it. You'll be surprised by how much co-operation you receive. Keep a tight lid on things like you are now and watch all your dreams turn to ash.

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