CHAPTER 10: SAFETY AND SECURITY
Is there a situation worse in this world than feeling insecure in your own home? From victims of international terrorism, domestic terrorism, crime, the primitive art of cattle rustling, brutalization at the hands of security agents and extrajudicial killings as some of the malfeasance Kenyans still have to grapple with 56 years after independence. At a time when we try our hand at a constitutional democracy, our neighbours are busy beset by despotism, failed states, terrorism, mediocre inter-clan strife, open-sea piracy, needless civil strife for minerals stoked by greedy proxies, a volatile Arabian Gulf projecting their rivalries to the horn of Africa. Some of the nations proximal to us are hell-bent on an insatiable expansionist agenda with a view to impinge on our sovereignty and territorial integrity usurping it both on land and in the high seas. It becomes desperate to attempt to engender civil liberties in the face of hatred, division and subjugation. We therefore as a nation must be vigilant to deter any propaganda or physical attack perpetuated by militant organizations against our constitutional order.
Fighting terrorism effectively entails safeguarding the constitutional order from a global enemy opposed to civil liberties, a secular government, religious pluralism and democracy. Corruption among sections of the security apparatus has ensured that our efforts at neutralizing security threats come to naught. Just as in the 1990’s when Organized Crime existing as bank robberies were the order of the day and the likes of Wanugu, Rasta & Wacucu played hide and seek against security dragnets, ably assisted by irredeemably corrupt and avaricious security personnel; today the threat is infinitely greater as security intelligence is peddled to the highest bidder to the detriment of the citizenry.
Entrenched cartels in security procurement have ensured our frontline security agents are denied proper equipment to mount a meaningful challenge against better-armed assailants. The consequence is burying our young men and women in the KDF and National Police Service, their nascent potential crushed under the weight of greed and the asininity of their bosses!
Ethnicity is a stick of dynamite thrown into this powder keg! Our political contests, primarily organized on the fickle tenets of a tribal census ensure that a disproportionate amount of national security effort has to be applied to mostly silence the aggrieved majority and cool down tension among the ranks of the losing side; sometimes even required to douse the exuberant celebrations of the ‘winning’ side, of course with the attendant brute force from people who are better at executing orders first then comprehending them later! Additionally, county boundary disputes should be settled to an amicable and impartial conclusion. Sometimes, adverse weather conditions have a deleterious effect on our water, pasture and food nexus. In the backdrop of lost pasture and livestock as a consequence of unpredictable droughts, communities devoid of climate resilience have been forced into violent restocking initiatives now part and parcel of organized crime.
Sometimes in my musings, I’m left to wonder if deaths as a result of floods on well-documented hotspots like Budalangi, Nyando flood basin, TanaRiver and other trouble spots should any longer be categorized as catastrophes a.k.a acts of God? This is because incidences here have become too predictable especially in this era of information-driven, computer modelling technology coupled with rapid information dissemination! However; tears, pain and regret have eternally become the portion of the ignorant, foolhardy, obstinate and doubting Thomases. Urbanization in Kenya is at a rate unprecedented and incomparable to any other time in history. Poor policy, greed and incompetence of successive governments has ensured urbanization is converse to industrialization. The youth bulge being a direct consequence, manifests in the social ills of joblessness, hunger, drug abuse, despair in the midst of intense energy and restlessness that is the requisite substrate for the proliferation of a militant agenda, terrorist recruitment, radicalization and all-round ‘Thug-life.’ Needless to say, this is at odds with development and prosperity. A secure Kenya is not just a responsibility of security personnel and institutions but every arm of government as well as the citizenry, private sector and civil society.
The Major recommendations tabled with regard to Safety and Security include:
- Every life in Kenya should be deemed sacrosanct and valuable as articulated constitutionally in Chapter 4, Article 26 – The value of life is impacted by violence, insecurity and poor safety standards that are not universal across the country. We have a variance to the consequences of crime depending on your locality. A life lost to murder in the poverty-stricken domain of Loima and Mathare slums is adjudged less deserving of the prevention measures, investigation and prosecutorial attention accorded to a similar life in the affluent suburbs of Muthangari & Kitsuru! Such a revolution requires equal distribution of security and legal resources.
- Popular-driven National Security Strategy – Cognizance should be nurtured that security requires a multifaceted approach reflected as a National Security and Safety Strategy (revamped every 2 years & by every incoming president within the First 100 days in Office). This should be people-driven, proactive, preventive and predictive.
- Ameliorate vulnerability to resource conflicts, disasters, emergencies and food insecurity – This plan can be put to action by operationalizing a comprehensive National Emergency, Disaster and Crisis Management Strategy that is anchored in law and linked to the county, sub-county and Ward level disaster response plans reviewed periodically.
Link the National Disaster Risk System to the Contingencies Fund (Article 208) in its act of establishment.
Establish preemptive and rapid response strategies to common major disasters such as flooding and drought.
Stratify and develop a hierarchy of the various levels and types of emergencies whose response is to be led by National Government and Counties. These should be linked to the National and County Contingency funds.
Prevent Communal resource conflicts by ensuring that County boundaries are drawn to maximize sharing of water and pasture among other resources.
Protect consumers of Food and Medicine from shadily procured, grown or developed products that are harmful to their health and wellbeing. The Kenya Food and Drugs Administration in concert with the Kenya Bureau of Standards should be more active with regards to enforcement of standards.
- Counter-terrorism is a multisectoral initiative that requires multiple tools to address it not just the security apparatus – This will come to fruition only as a fruit of the political, social and cultural defenses against the precursors of terrorism. This will reduce the pool of recruits and ultimately delegitimize the aims of our national nemeses.
Coordinate and mainstream prevention of radicalization and violent extremism initiatives in the Ministries of Health, Education, Youth, Cultural Heritage and Sport.
Defending Kenya against terrorists should be a tactical endeavour, implemented by regulated protective security standards for all sectors and most cautiously among heavily-trafficked properties owned by the private sector.
Invest in innovation and coordination to strengthen every part of the counterterrorism terrain with a focus on making initiatives geared at defeating it world-class both with regards to equipment and policywise. We should borrow a leaf from the movie sequel ‘Bad Boys for Life’ where as opposed to the long-established and antiquated modus-operandi of policing involving chasing criminals on foot or shootouts in the streets while hanging from the doors of cars; let’s take advantage of modern technology methods like Predictive Analytics, use of Big data and High Performance Computing, Criminal Databases, Forensic Analysis, Ethical Hacking of suspicious sites and use of Drone Technology both for surveillance and neutralising of criminal targets. Terrorism and Crime are strange bedfellows whose evolution is as equally dynamic as global technology.
Our Cybersecurity dexterity ought to be elevated to the next level as our economy is gradually becoming digital and online. The next frontier for the ‘feloniously-inclined’ is ‘white-collar’ crime committed by well-educated, suave, urbane, suited-up technocrats in our offices. Even our much-vaunted IFMIS system has not been spared the vagaries of system vulnerabilities. Tactical nous and technology that has been mentioned in the paragraph above must be implemented not just to safeguard our systems but also create employment for the many graduates in Information Technology that have been painstakingly put through our institutions of higher learning. Otherwise, how are they going to repay their HELB loan? We need a consistent strengthening of national cybersecurity skills, processes, laws and infrastructure. Going forward, we need to see more computer gurus with their thick-framed spectacles strutting the precincts of the local police stations as much as the odd-ball, clueless characters exercising laissez-faire in manning the good, old Occurrence Book!
Operationalize a Victim Protection Fund to protect those directly aggrieved by ignominious acts of terrorism.
Review diplomatic relations with state sponsors of terrorism, religious extremism, expansionism and irredentism. Diplomacy is often our first line of action as military action is often expensive and has negative implications. Resource the Ministry of Foreign affairs to the same tune as the Ministry of Internal security and The National Intelligence department.
Professionalize and better regulate private security companies and their guards to deliver better services integrated with State security so that it adheres to the highest standards. The arming of private security personnel should be considered; as more often than not, they find themselves in the frontlines of criminal activity often fighting a lopsided fight which they lose.
What chance does a guy holding a wooden club have against gun-toting delinquents? Historical precedence should be considered as during the 1998 terrorist attack on the U.S Embassy in the Nairobi Central Business District, it’s the onerous and intuitive response of the un-armed Basement parking Security attendant that averted a greater disaster should the explosive-rigged trucks have been detonated at basement level!
- Strengthen Police Performance, mental health and wellness of the National Police Service by and large the entire National Security and Defence apparatus – Clarify Key Performance Indicators for Police Commanders from the Inspector General downwards to their charges and link this to national crime and security statistics (based on counties, gender and citizen perceptions). This should be the yardstick for promotion and performance-based incentives.
Henceforth, eliminate corruption in recruitment by instituting heavy penalties for perverting the course of meritocracy in the process. Create a transparent Human Resource system that is digital and with clearly outlined processes for promotion and transfer. This must entail measurable past performance, internal courses, exams and citizen feedback on abuse of office & corruption. Buttress integrity and effectiveness by recognizing and rewarding excellence, dedication and sacrifice by both officers and citizens.
Put in accessible and well-resourced mental health, wellness counselling and treatment for police officers. Take good care of those returning from frontline roles that expose them to extreme physical and psychological trauma. It’s instructive to be aware that Security Agents are human and will definitely be adversely affected by the human suffering and death they see on a daily basis.
- Secure Citizens from Personal Threats – First redress boundary conflicts that threaten national and societal security. Establish a commission to address current boundary conflicts.
Institute court proceedings that guarantee protection and safety of whistleblowers, witnesses and informants as they are pivotal in any war against not just crime and terror but ultimately effective prosecution. Crime and terror always fight back!
Every new road in an urban area should have legally enforceable, inbuilt provisions for a sidewalk for pedestrians and specified lanes for cyclists. Signage should be clear.
Improve Citizen Conflict resolution and mediation skills by inculcating these skills in the curriculum throughout the Kenyan Educational life. Add to these negotiation and counseling skills.
Prioritize combatting Gender-based and Sexual Violence.
CHAPTER 11: COMMISSIONS AND CROSS-CUTTING
Nairobi occupies a special place in the geopolitics of the modern world as it’s not only the commercial and administrative capital of Kenya but also the extra-territorial seat of the United Nations. Concomitantly, Nairobi is dissimilar to other Kenyan counties and cannot be relegated to existing as an equal with them. As such, the Commission for Revenue Allocation should consider this special status and accord it slightly more than the others as the resource demands of our national capital are infinitely greater.
On 26th March 1975 discourse between the United Nations & the Government of Kenya ended in an agreement entailing how UN Environment Programme will be located and how that location will affect service provision and amenities to it. The fallout of that decision is in Kenya becoming a diplomatic hub as many nations try to gain a foothold on United Nation Agencies for the benefit of their respective jurisdictions.
The New recommendations in the BBI taskforce report are that Nairobi should be accorded special recognition such that the national government be allowed the discretion to provide the services and facilitation that maintain the clout of Nairobi as both the National Seat of Power and diplomatic hub. While at this, the Rights of the residents to representation at the Ward and Parliamentary level should still be upheld.
A major problem with governance in Kenya is the overlapping of responsibilities between various agencies. This of course, results in inefficiency and exorbitant costs to run government. There are cases when the strictures of a particular Regularory Authority are challenged by a player in the field and their grouse forwarded to an appeal tribunal arbitrating conflicts for that particular authority. Quixotically, this anomaly is replicated for almost all Regulatory Authorities which is costly and creates an avenue for perversion of that system by frivolous claims and malicious players. Another problem is expensive Commissions of Inquiries that more often than not are a drain of national resources more than the panacea to the problem they are created to alleviate. So prestigious has it become to be named to a national commission in Kenya, that my compatriots virtually hold home-coming parties in their ancestral homes and with all the festivities that come with it! Afterwards, delegations are sent to Statehouse from the locality of extraction of the benefactor of this post, bearing gifts of livestock, grain and fruit to proffer unequivocal gratitude and approbation to the Head of State for bestowing this great honour upon their kinsman. Sometimes the circumstances occasioning the Commission of inquest are less than pleasant, as a Cabinet Secretary may have been assassinated in ghastly, macabre yet mysterious circumstances but as the sage opined, ‘One man’s loss is another’s treasure!’ From sitting allowances, out of town allowance, per diems, extraneous allowance, entertainment allowance, lunch allowance to add onto a hefty salary and other emoluments is more than a slap across the face of many citizens living the Third world life of less than a Dollar a day but getting taxed exorbitantly to support such disproportionate expenditure.
With regards to National Commissions, some of the Recommendations made include:
- Separating the Obligation to conduct criminal investigations from that to enforce Ethics in public service – Henceforth, the task of reporting on, promoting and enforcing ethical conduct will lie with the proposed Ethics Commission recommended in the Chapter on National Ethos.
- Each Independent commission will have internal accountability systems for separation of powers – Appointment and promotion will be out of the purview of the team for censure and interdictions.
- Rigorous Audits – This will ensure citizens get value for money as sound principles of public financial management will be upheld in every Arm of Government and Public Institution.
- Improve the link between investigation and prosecution – The bromance that has been brewed between the offices of Director of Criminal Investigation and The Director of Public Prosecution has been a breath of fresh air, as the political will to fight hard-core crime and high-profile corruption is now forthcoming. Going forward, more of this will be required as these two act well and in concert with the judiciary incorruptibly. Fund both offices proportionately so that money is not an object in fighting crimes like corruption that most definitely have the muscle to fight back.
- Rationalise the mandates of regulatory bodies and eliminate duplication of duty – This is much needed to ensure transparency, value for money, prompt service for regulatory compliance.
- Strengthen the Government Chemist – To enhance their efficiency.
- Create a Unified and assertive Food & Drugs Administrative body- This will ensure all Foods and Drugs are tested and regulated before consumption.
- Senate & National Assembly review – The checks and balances system in the legislature is need for review to ascertain suitability and remove replication of responsibility.
- Harmonious running of Chapter 15 Commissions – This will redress the power struggles in these bodies. Forthwith, Chairpersons will also be Chief Executive officers to eschew the absurdity occasioned by two centres of power that in the past exposed deep-seated rifts. Kenyans are no doubt traumatized after being forced to watch the inadvertent ‘pissing contest’ in the IEBC as Wafula Chebukati and Ezra Chiloba tussled for relevance and authority! No additional allowances will be given for additional responsibilities.
I would additionally recommend at least one Commissioner with a qualification in Information Technology to the Independent Elections & Boundaries Commission (IEBC) if that’s the path we have decided to take with future electoral processes. We needn’t have absolute ignorance among the commissioners in case Servers are supposed to be opened to assay the actual results of an election!
- Part-time Commissioners – Half of the Commissioners in Chapter 15 Commissions except IEBC should serve on a part-time basis. As Article 249 subsection 3 of the current constitution has been virtually trampled underfoot such that independence of Chapter 15 commissions is compromised, it must be restituted to operation for the benefit of our Republic.
Consolidate Administrative tribunals – Relationships between Regulatory Authorities and their respective appeal tribunal must be harmonized to resolve the uncouth circumstance currently in play where impartial adjudication of disputes between industry players and regulators has become a by-word. The fact that every Regulatory Authority has its tribunal is becoming extortionate on the exchequer. A proposal has been mooted that one National Administrative Appeals tribunal encompassing the various thematic appeal tribunals will be set up. Additionally, even those regulatory bodies themselves will have to be reduced by having an initiative to simplify & harmonize their mandates. We need fewer and better-implemented regulations in efforts to defeat the contagion of corruption among these bodies.