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The Politics of Coronavirus in Kenya: Government Bungles Response, Blames it on Innocent Citizens


Here is the thing. Kenya’s handling of the Covid-19 pandemic is one of the worst, by all means. Forget this crap by the Wall Street Journal praising Mr Mutahi Kagwe. American media can praise Kenyan government for doing better than expected. We must not forget that expectations are normally too low, of course. Surpassing some too low expectations doesn’t make you better or does it? It simply means you did better within those parameters (of low expectations). In other words, you are just but a taller dwarf in a group of dwarfs. Nothing to celebrate.

Look here. The virus has remained one step ahead of Government of Kenya (GoK)’s so called fight against Coronavirus. Every single measure that government is putting in place today would make good sense and save the country a great deal should we have had them exactly same time last month or even earlier. The country closed its airspace too late. Remember the virus was imported. The best way to have dealt with it was to close the borders at the right time. That was a month or slightly over a month ago. GoK missed that out. And we know why. Largely it is the sons and daughters of the elite who travel abroad and it is the business of the elite that was at stake. Hence, shutting down Kenya’s airspace at what was, by all means, the right time was not in the best interest of Kenya’s elites. They closed the borders too late. Long after the virus had already spread in the country.

GoK then moved on to impose a mandatory quarantine which they have since bungled big time. Of the confirmed cases so far, a good number of them are from quarantine centers. The reality in some of those centers is horrible. Strictly speaking some of them are not fit for purpose. You do not go on forcing people into some University and high school hostels where they share amenities like toilets and claim to have quarantined them. But that is what mediocre people do. That is what GoK did. Because it is always a mediocre system. If you have been and/or know anyone currently in quarantine, then you know for sure that it took up to a week or even more to have people in quarantine tested. That people were never tested before they were herded into those centers without any proper quarantine measures was a recipe for disaster. It is likely that a lot of the positive cases being reported from quarantine centers are as a result of people who were well but have been infected while in those places. In some of the centers, people in quarantine are constantly coming into contact with people from the outside. For instance, as was reported by those in Pride Inn Hotel, Westlands who are constantly in contact with hotel attendants who have never been tested of Covid-19 themselves and have no proper protective gear.

And then. We are hardly talking about corruption here. But many people may have bribed their way out of quarantine. Some may have bribed earlier enough. Meaning they never went into quarantine centers in the first place. Who in their right mind in this Kenya believes that a son or a daughter of the rich and/or “people with connections” can spend 14 days in some quarantine center in this country? After all, what doesn’t money buy in Kenya? Who thinks that the police (which is the most corrupt institution in this country) has suddenly become as white as snow so that its men and women cannot take bribes from people in quarantine?

Other than failure to act in time to seal the borders, a bungled quarantine has since clearly emerged as another of the weakest points in GoK’s mishandling of this pandemic. In fact, the quarantine was largely handled by the police as opposed to medical personnel. The police who have been doing this, just as those manning the curfew, are themselves being largely, and unjustifiably so, exposed to the virus. If cases of Covid-19 were to soar in the coming days blame it on GoK. Please stop buying this cheap narrative of blaming ordinary Kenyans for failures of government.

But anyway. This whole business of blaming victims is well-established in Kenya. This is a country where the people in charge never take responsibility for their ineptness and mistakes. So, when your President speaks, he blames you and me (ordinary Kenyans) for the spread of Coronavirus. His minister and all other state officers do the same sort of thing. They turn you against each other. So, you start blaming those being brutalized by the police for being “vichwa ngumu.” You start stigmatizing those in quarantine and treating them as criminals (not the victims that they are). And you justify those acts because your government has created, sustained and effectively controlled a narrative that constantly transfers its failures to the citizen and makes this later the problem. To the government, the problem is the citizen; not the virus. It then must lecture, control, punish the problem – the citizen.

They will do this consistently until you buy the narrative that you, and not the government, are to blame for the spread of the virus. Should the situation get out of hand (God forbid), those in government, starting with the commander in chief, will simply throw their hands in the air and say “mlitaka tufanye nini jameni”. You know it. They will play victim and you will take all the blame. Sadly enough, you will believe them. And, apart from being persuaded to believe them and taking the entire blame for yourselves, you will have buried your loved ones in their numbers. Painful deceptions.

The Politics of Coronavirus in Kenya: Government Bungles Response, Blames it on Innocent Citizens The Politics of Coronavirus in Kenya: Government Bungles Response, Blames it on Innocent Citizens Reviewed by Ibrahim Magara on April 06, 2020 Rating: 5

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