It is human for the president to be overwhelmed by emotions, during tragedies such as the recent Garissa student massacre, and give overriding executive orders aimed at remedying the messy situation. However, such impulsive orders prove to be self defeating, in the long run, because they are usually emotional and not well thought out. You will be amazed that every time a Kenyan president takes the right step forward in fighting corruption, it is usually followed by one huge leap backwards!
When the president ordered the police top dogs to defy a court order that halted the training of 10,000 new police recruits , after the recruitment exercise was marred with massive corruption allegations; he cited a shortage of enough police officers as the main reason why we are being hit hard by terrorists. However, he got it all wrong because of the following reasons:
One. This move is likely to rubbish his fight against corruption, if indeed he is serious about fighting graft, since the courts are expected to play a crucial role in prosecuting those found culpable of graft, in the list of shame that he recently unleashed. How then can the courts cooperate with him if he seems to disrespect court orders? He is making the wrong enemy! Besides, he cannot afford to seem like he is blowing hot and cold in the fight against corruption, if he indeed wants to win the war. There should never be any special circumstance that should make us excuse massive corruption allegations of the magnitude witnessed in the police recruitment in question!
Two. As top CEO of the country, he has set a bad precedent that will tempt other elected leaders, especially governors facing corruption charges, to casually defy the courts. Some of them are already citing a precedent set by none other than the president and his deputy, of remaining in office in spite of facing serious criminal charges in an international court, as a reason why they will not step aside though they face corruption charges! That is how precedents set by those at the top leadership come back to haunt them.
Three. If indeed most of the 10,000 police recruits whose training was halted by the courts paid their way into the police force, then we have no guarantee that such individuals will take their security jobs seriously.
What can stop an individual who has coughed up to the tune 300,0000/=, in order to get into the police force, from pocketing a fat bribe then looking the other way while goons loaded with machine guns cross our porous borders to commit atrocities like the one recently witnessed in Garissa?
Some of these fellows had to sell their land in order to raise the bribe money and will stop at nothing till they buy their land back! By adding such people whose integrity is already questionable into the police force, we will actually be weakening its service rather than revamping it. Condoning corruption in the police force in the name of fighting terror is like digging up a new hole in order to fill up an old one. Fighting graft and terror go hand in hand and the war against terror can never be won so long as corruption thrives in the police force. This is why the president’s move will not only undermine his war against graft, but it will also end up undermining the war against terrorism. It is simply self defeating!
Lastly. The other day, a group from the civil society demonstrated in the city center protesting against the rampant sleaze in government. They decided to use donkeys to drive their point home, but what caught my eye and set my imagination into overdrive was one of the donkeys that was painted in black and white stripes, making it look like a zebra. When the president gave his executive order to defy the courts, I immediately remembered the zebra-like donkey in the protest. I wondered whether the president is engaged in an exercise similar to painting a donkey in black and white stripes and expecting us to believe that it is actually a zebra! When he recently asked top officials, in his government, who have been named in corruption cases to step aside till investigations are concluded, the president looked so genuine and determined to confront the mammoth monster of official corruption. However, Kenyans will be forgiven for being cynical about the move and adopting a “wait and see” attitude since we have been here before. The last time a similar thing happened in the Kibaki government, most of the suspended officials were not only allowed back into government, but they were given plummer posts. Whether things will be any different this time round, the jury is still out there.