SHOW OF MIGHT

Curfew roadblock: Leaders should think through their actions

In Summary
  • Did ambulances, essential service providers and citizens rushing their loved ones to hospitals also count as ‘violators’ of the curfew?
  • Lives were lost just because the government was flexing its muscles in the name of keeping its citizens in check
Nairobi motorists were on Saturday night stranded as police blocked major roads after curfew time.
BLOCKADE: Nairobi motorists were on Saturday night stranded as police blocked major roads after curfew time.
Image: FILE
Everything rises and falls on leadership
John Maxwell

The hue and cry that greeted police roadblocks on various highways was unprecedentedly vile. Social media was alight with irate Kenyans expressing disgust at the ‘inhumane’ operation undertaken by the police implementing a presidential directive that no soul violating the curfew should be allowed to proceed with their journey past the barricades.

Did ambulances, essential service providers and citizens rushing their loved ones to hospitals also count as ‘violators’ of the curfew? Lives were lost just because the government was flexing its muscle in the name of keeping its citizens in check.

While it is true that a number of the motorists were on the wrong side of the state's dictates, the police could have handled the situation in a much more civil manner. In unprecedented circumstances such as a pandemic, it makes no sense to apply brute and insensible force against people in the name of "enforcing government regulations".

Plain speaking, even as the police have a legal mandate to enforce the law, it makes no sense to restrict movement without giving a brief allowance period for motorists to get home. The question begs - why didn't they mount the roadblocks after a sufficient time that made it inexcusable for citizens to be on the road?

It is even more painful to think that not so long ago, politicians flagrantly let their guard down to hold super spreader rallies, partly contributing to the third wave, and now Kenyans are paying the price.

The Saturday night fiasco is another frightful show of might by a government that is visibly out of touch with its citizenry. The state should have put forward an advisory beforehand to the public to heed the regulations and outline the consequences of flouting them.

There must be something much more than notoriety to attract a leader towards unceasing work, the bitterness of the struggle, the temptations and the pressure. There must be a factor of dedication, an undeniable impulse to build and serve. In this, he must satisfy himself. There are very few other rewards.
Tom Mboya

That is what responsible administrations do – consult, issue clear direction on why something needs to happen and influence citizens into action with minimal force as legally entitled, to achieve their objectives.

Such incidents portend an ominous sign, one that Kenyans continuously ignore. Our state of politics and governance has severely deteriorated. The oxygen that holds the life of our politics is quickly running out. 2022 is in focus as Wanjiku heads to the ballot.

Sadly, what we see today are political chess games at the expense of the citizens (pawns). As for the Constitution, what remains of it is a simple piece of paper with laws inscribed on it that bear the interpretation of what the ruling class gives it.

These incidents come in the back of planned constitutional amendments, political realignments, a bruising presidential race, IMF debts, weakened arms of government, derailed institutions and worst of all, a ravaging pandemic eating into the lives and livelihoods of Kenyans.

Our political and administrative leaders must step up and act decisively. As John Maxwell aptly puts it, "Everything rises and falls on leadership". Leaders should put their egos aside and come to the aid of Kenyans who are clutching at straws in the sea waves of social and economic despair. They need to look beyond their thirst for power and might and showcase statesmanship.

As the luminary Tom Mboya would prophetically say, "There must be something much more than notoriety to attract a leader towards unceasing work, the bitterness of the struggle, the temptations and the pressure. There must be a factor of dedication, an undeniable impulse to build and serve. In this, he must satisfy himself. There are very few other rewards."

Communications practitioner