By MUTUMA MATHIU firstname.lastname@example.org
Posted Thursday, May 24 2012 at 20:00
In this very Kenya, which has 70,000 cops and APs, there are 5,700 officers in uniform who are being used as drivers, part-time waiters (they carry the plate at hotel buffets), shelf de-stackers (they push the trolley while the boss shops) and general handymen in the homes of the ‘‘high and mighty’’.
Yet others are accessories of men with delicate egos; they pack their cars as bodyguards and storm out when the vehicles come to a stop, in a comical re-enactment of presidential security.
If I give you the names of the people who have been provided with police bodyguards, you will laugh until you wet your pants. As a matter of fact, the public is more in danger of them than the other way round.
And those are the lucky ones. I am almost certain that there are officers who are treated like servants in big homesteads.
I don’t think it is beyond the realm of possibility that others are regarded as playthings and sex toys because some in our indisciplined elite might not see the difference between “family” and official duties.
Why do you take a young person to a quasi-military college, train them to shoot straight and not to faint at the smell of death, school them to apprehend, prosecute or shoot thugs, then you force them to spend their professional lives as the handbag-carriers of graceless dowagers or the ego props of parastatal ne’er-do-wells?
I always tell young police officers when they arrest and harass me for minor reasons, such as false claims of speeding, that I am possibly their only friend in the whole wide world.
Because I know what they do and what the country has given them to do it with.
They get nine months in Kiganjo, a rifle and little else before they are loosed on the world of vicious, bloodthirsty gangs, car-jackers, rapists, thieves, violent politicians planning large scale evil and, of course, the sweet allure of easy money.
What keeps them going is a determination not to go back to the smoky hut where they came from empty-handed, or to go to bed on a glass of water ever again. Some might also feel the need to protect the public, to put the baddies in prison.
Kenya has no right to demand quality policing; it does not pay for quality policing.
It gives the force peanuts and expects them to work miracles. And even the little there is is wasted, sometimes by the police themselves, such as when they use their best vehicles to drive the bosses around.
The thoughtlessness of our elite is that such that a person who lives amidst the shrubbery of a quiet compound in Lavington, where crime can be dealt with by a dog, private guard or a good padlock, takes two police officers to guard his otherwise secure home at the expense of the poorer Kenyan living in Kayole or Komarock, where having an officer nearby is a matter of life and death.
The same thoughtlessness is seen in MPs’ cutting the budget of the National Security Intelligence Service by Sh2.8 billion and denying the spy chief, Maj-General Michael Gichangi, the opportunity to defend the budget.
Why? Not because the spooks are profligate, or haven’t met the MPs’ expectations, or haven’t done their job. No, in revenge for Gen Gichangi not honouring a summons.
We have troops in a hostile country. How many politicians do you hear encouraging them and thanking them for their service to their country? You are more likely to hear a litany of second-guessing and whining about how expensive the war effort is.
But the clincher is the shameless political butt-licking of the Mombasa Republican Council. MRC, a bunch of ignorant villagers like you and me, but possibly with the encouragement of treasonous big names, are proposing something that goes against our very essence, a betrayal of the suffering of our people for the last century, a sick perversion of our hopes for the future.
The MRC wants Kenyans to give up on the only thing they have: Kenya.
I have no doubt that those guys have genuine complaints. Who doesn’t?
But their proposal to dismember the republic is ignorant, does not solve the problem and is likely to create more problems, not just for the rest of us, but especially for the poor people of the Coast.
And politicians are falling over themselves to mollycoddle, appease and con these guys.