This was a special week. It was the one that President Uhuru Kenyatta signed into law bills dealing with alcohol, domestic violence and public service values. The most interesting of these for this columnist was the Alcoholic Drinks Control (Amendment) Act 2015 that deals with one of the most important things where many Nairobi folks are concerned. This is because this product is one of the most important commodities in this town.
You can hear of power shortages, shortages of fuel or even of medicine and people will complain with some tweets, and possibly a few grumblings against the leadership of the country. Just the thought of a POSSIBILITY of there being a slight delay of alcohol to preferred outlets will bring a chill down many spines around the city.
That is the kind of thing that will lead you to seeing donkeys from God knows where filling the streets branded with signs against the evil regime against fun and inebriation. This need to get intoxicated is the main reason why the price of the drink goes up and no one complains too loudly. The distributors know they have us by our short hairs.
One of the most interesting things this new Bill brought to us was that for the first time, alcoholism was classified as an illness. This means the state can deal with the ravages that the country has been dealing with for a generation. For the first time, one who is adversely affected by excessive amounts of booze can now get the treatment that they badly need.
The only problem I foresee with this new great law? Nairobians. These are the sneakiest people on the planet – you give them an inch, and they take a water tower. You can be sure to hear in the next few months people calling in sick or arriving late on week days. When they do come in, they will be having a note from the doctor stating they were suffering the ill effects of 'mild alcoholism'. The boss won't be able to do anything about it as in law, we need to be sensitive to people suffering from the disease. This applies even if they know that their employee was probably out of town enjoying Ladies Night on the Wednesday or doing Karaoke Thursday at their favourite pub. Even though the Nairobian will still pull their weight and deliver to targets, it's not great for company morale and discipline.
With alcoholism now classified as an illness, you can be sure that Nairobi lobbyists will camp at the county assembly or in extreme cases at Parliament. This is to ensure new laws are put on the books to ensure they can now get away with murder. They will start with when the government is doing their environment related laws to ensure there is an inclusion of 'littering' as an illness that needs to be treated.
Thus when they are busted doing any types of 'littering' that is frowned up, they have a way out. If they are caught throwing the wrappers of chicken and chips they ate and plastic soda they drunk in a matatu, and then threw out of the window for instance, they can now claim they were impaired by their affliction. All that would be needed if they went to county court after an arrest by county officers would be a note from the doctor stating they are suffering "moderate littering”.
Expect also the leading Kenyans in the land to push through a law that would make it look like stealing could be said to be an illness that needs not stern punishment, but compassion and treatment at a facility that isn't a jail cell. Thus, when a leader has been called up by the anti-corruption body to answer to charges, they will not even bother to hire a crowd with drums and dancing outfits to cheer them on. The politico will instead come through with a battery of doctors with proof that when doing the acts they were suffering from “severe kleptomania”.
The recommendation from this team in white coats would be rest and relaxation at a spa. Jail cells wouldn't be an option as they can only be detrimental to their patient as they would possibly meet people with higher strains of the affliction, and they will not heal but get worse.