Is Kenya Becoming A police State? Dictatorship Slowly Creeping Back As We Watch
By: Odhiambo T Oketch
A few things have been disturbing me, and as is in my nature, I will not keep quiet.Is Kenya becoming a Police Dictatorship? Why is the Inspector General of Police keen on gagging Kenyans and denying us our freedom to assemble, talk and associate?We have come a long way with our fight for democracy and reforms. Many Kenyans have been killed in this journey, while many more have been maimed, tortured and suffered stints in detention for agitating for change and reforms.
We have come full circle and going by the results of the disputed March 4th General Elections Kenyans care less about reforms and democracy. But we all care about our freedoms.
The Civil Society has undergone a complete metamorphosis and no one cares about the tenets of democracy any more. Many care only about the many hotel seminars that they attend and the allowances that come with such engagements.
This is why many issues of Governance and Peace are only held in seminars and in hotels where the people who attend are the same people who keep meeting about such things. They move to congregate from one hotel to another in different locations and they have largely remained isolated from the common reality.
Who is going to talk for the common man whose rights of speech, association and assembly is now being slowly eroded by the new Sherrif in Town? Is the Sherrif acting within the law when he declares all meetings illegal? Is he acting on behalf of some other unseen forces? Or, is he afraid of something we do not know?
Our agitation for repeal of Section 2A led to the first Multi Party elections where the Professor of Kenyan politics Mzee President [rtd] Daniel Arap Moi won albeit with a slim majority the General Elections of 1992. He again won in 1997 to complete his two terms in office.
During this time, there was acceleration of reforms and the gains we had made were never eroded.
Then in 2002, we all rallied behind Mwai Kibaki. We started seeing systemic attempts to erode the gains we had made. The first such attempt was in 2005 when we were saddled with a watered down version of a Constitution that was rejected in a referendum.
The second such attempt has been the question of the County Commissioners. The Courts nullified their appointments but the Executive Wing of Government simply ignored those orders. They have now ordered the Ministers who got elected into the legislature to resign. It does not matter how much noise Prime Minister Odinga makes.
We have seen nothing in the form of national healing and cohesion. Jobs have been given out in a manner that left many people wondering where Kenya was heading to. And the constant rejoinder was that people were being appointed based on their competency. Competency become the justification. And Kenyans watched with baited breath as some key State Offices become a preserve of competencies from the appointing authority.
We then went through a General Election that was generally flawed in 2007 and Mzee KIbaki reached a common agreement with Raila Odinga and they formed a Coalition Government. They forgot to punish the perpetrators of the post election violence. And now, we are being warned not to talk, not to assemble and not to freely associate!
The International Criminal Court is also now realizing how tough it is to deal with the dark forces of impunity.
As we speak, there is a game of cats and mice going on with regard to resettling those who were Internally displaced. I thought these people were displaced from somewhere, and now that we have peace between the then protagonists, people can just happily go back to where they were displaced from.
I bet Kenya is facing more serious problems and the attempts by the IGP are simply therapeutic. I do not want to believe that we have gone full circle and all that we fought for have come to nothing.
It is also good to realize that material wealth has replaced ideals. Many people have at long realized that ideals do not place bread on the table, while money does. Many are hence throwing all caution to the wind in pursuit of power, raw power and money. And with it, Kenya is being saddled with a leadership that will shame the whole country.
Pray, why must we elect journeymen into our Legislative Bodies- the National Assembly and the Senate? What is the problem with us? The gods must be absolutely crazy and they must be dancing on the graves of all those gallant sons and daughters of Kenya who fought for reforms and return to Multi-Party Politics.
I really would not want to imagine that the Police are willing to be major players in silencing Kenyans, or, clubbing Kenyans into submission at a time thugs are running amok across Kenya!
Crime is escalating and the Police are looking helpless about it. Yet, they have the audacity to come policing innocent Kenyans whose only crime seems to be Freedoms of association, assembly and speech.
I would want to believe that their hands are tied and they have enough to justify for their existence.
The dark clouds are gathering and everyone seems to be taking off as the Inspector General of Police assumes new powers hitherto not known in Kenya.