Ev­ery­one take cover, here come the lit­tle dic­ta­tors in their black limos and chase cars

The East African - - OPINION -

An as­sas­sin ca­su­ally walks to a parked car and fires shots through the win­dow. The po­lice swiftly ap­pre­hend the hit man, but he later dies in mys­te­ri­ous cir­cum­stances while in cus­tody.

Then a univer­sity fe­male stu­dent is ab­ducted to­gether with a male jour­nal­ist. The jour­nal­ist man­ages to jump out of the mov­ing car. The girl is later found dead in a for­est.

No, this is not a script of the lat­est James Bond movie. The two in­ci­dents are ac­tual events that have shocked Kenya to the core.

Po­lice are yet to solve the cases. How­ever, two gov­er­nors have been ques­tioned in con­nec­tion with the as­sas­si­na­tion attempt and the mur­der. They are, of course, pre­sumed in­no­cent un­til proven oth­er­wise. The gov­ern­ment must give the po­lice ev­ery avail­able re­source to en­able them to bring their in­ves­ti­ga­tions to a speedy and suc­cess­ful con­clu­sion.

The ca­su­al­ness with which the mur­der­ers treated hu­man life has brought out the evil that now lurks in our neigh­bour­hoods. The na­tional out­rage is a re­sult of the re­al­i­sa­tion that mur­ders go­ing un­pun­ished over the years has given rise to a cul­ture where hu­man life can be dis­posed of in the most cal­lous man­ner. We now re­alise we could be the next vic­tims.

The Kenyan mid­dle class likes to think that it is safe inside gated, pri­vately guarded com­mu­ni­ties, but th­ese two high pro­file crimes have ex­posed ev­ery­one’s soft un­der­belly. The ques­tion of the death penalty will and should once again be­come part of the con­ver­sa­tion with re­spect to cases of sadis­tic tor­ture and mur­der of peo­ple.

The two crimes hap­pened in a con­text where gov­er­nors and MCAS op­er­ate al­most as a law unto them­selves. MCAS have been cap­tured on tape many times fight­ing with chairs or chas­ing each other in the streets with stones. Some have been ac­cused of caus­ing griev­ous in­jury and even mur­der. As to their man­date – over­sight of county ex­pen­di­ture - MCAS have proved prodi­giously in­com­pe­tent. They seem to have a quid pro quo re­la­tion­ship with gov­er­nors; “Help us get trips to bench­mark, fa­cil­i­tate our al­lowances and other perks, and we will sup­port your agenda.” It is now clear that the in­tegrity, ed­u­ca­tional and other re­quire­ments for MCA can­di­dates must be raised and closely po­liced.

Gov­er­nors on their part carry them­selves like po­ten­tates, in­creas­ingly hos­tile to the spirit of de­vo­lu­tion of con­sul­ta­tion, not only with MCAS, but also with com­mu­ni­ties.

Signs of this monar­chist ten­dency were ap­par­ent right at the out­set. First, they started driv­ing in mo­tor­cades. There was a time on our streets when there were so many black li­mousines with chase cars and po­lice sirens, it seemed as if there was a VIP for ev­ery 10 Kenyans. In fact, the num­ber of VIPS as a per­cent­age of our GDP and pop­u­la­tion size, makes us the coun­try with the high­est num­ber of VIPS in the world.

Prime min­is­ters of much richer coun­tries, some of which give us aid, would be en­vi­ous of the life­styles of MCAS and gov­er­nors. But their sense of what is of real value would pro­hibit them from as­pir­ing to such lazy and lav­ish life­styles. They would ask them­selves: A joy ride in Busi­ness Class or medicine in a ru­ral hos­pi­tal? Chase cars or the ed­u­ca­tional needs of chil­dren liv­ing with dis­abil­ity? Salary hike and al­lowances or bet­ter ma­ter­nity care for ru­ral moth­ers?

From their per­spec­tive, noth­ing would shout fail­ure of lead­er­ship more loudly than hav­ing a huge salary, or as is now the fash­ion, a he­li­copter or two, when peo­ple die of famine ev­ery three years.

The gov­er­nors then be­gan hav­ing mega­lo­ma­niac am­bi­tions. They set aside mil­lions of shillings as entertainment al­lowances. Big bill­boards bear­ing the like­ness of the gov­er­nors were erected on county bor­ders. TV ad­ver­tise­ments were ac­com­pa­nied by the gov­er­nor’s pic­ture peer­ing benev­o­lently at his “sub­jects.” One gov­er­nor even beat Kim Jong-un to it when he had a pic­ture of him­self on mock exam pa­pers in schools in his county. We have de­volved the im­pe­rial pres­i­dency to the coun­ties.

The gov­er­nors now de­mand im­mu­nity from pros­e­cu­tion for crimes com­mit­ted while in of­fice, a priv­i­lege only ac­corded to a sit­ting pres­i­dent. They also want the po­lice func­tion to be de­volved. I will leave to your imag­i­na­tion what would hap­pen were gov­er­nors to con­trol the po­lice.

If this mega­lo­ma­nia is not checked res­o­lutely and quickly, we will soon have fully fledged dic­ta­tor­ships at the county level.

The gov­er­nors also want the po­lice func­tion to be de­volved. I will leave to your imag­i­na­tion what would hap­pen were they to con­trol the po­lice

Pic­ture: File

Rongo Univer­sity stu­dents demon­strate on Rongo-migori road on Septem­ber 5, de­mand­ing that the killers of their fel­low stu­dent to be ar­rested.

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