Saturday, 27 October 2012

Security is too important to be lost over salary increments!

“Najilaumu Kuwa Polisi” (I blame myself for being a policeman) is a facebook meme that may just give you an inkling of how dire the situation is with our internal security services.  It’s no secret that our police service is one of the worst paying government job groups. It’s actually rather shocking, how a government that considers itself in any way remotely intelligent could put the security of the entire nation in the hands of poverty stricken individuals whose paycheck can barely last a week in our economy.

Who did not see this coming? It was rather obvious from the start of this year that industrial strike after industrial strike would occur given the sluggish nature of our government’s responses when it comes to pay rises. First the doctors, then the nurses, then the teachers, then the dock workers and now, lo and behold the police service is facing an internal threat of a strike expressed as a go-slow.  Here is the thing, the police are not unionized. The last time a security service went on strike in Kenya was when the prison wardens decided to down their tools. The government’s response to that situation was to crush the protest and arrest senior wardens for failing to prevent a strike. Stop. Let’s pause here for a second. The government, knowing very well that they underpay people they count on for security, knowing very well that the work conditions at prisons and facilities for wardens are despicable, crushes the protest and arrests senior officials for failing to prevent the strike. Whose failure was it really?

Here we are playing dice with the lives of Kenyans. It may interest this government and their high ranking officials to know that these policemen threatening a go-slow also intend to go slow on escort services.  What does that mean? It means that even though the “higher ups” thought they won’t be affected by a go-slow, they will be the first to directly feel it. After all, most Kenyans don’t have policemen personally protecting them!

It really does not matter that the police are not unionized. All they have to do is not turn up at work and instantly the entire country is plunged into a state of emergency.  All because some slow witted, irresponsible, irreverent government quack official somewhere is sitting on a document that should release funds already allocated to provide incremental pay rises to the police service.

Maybe all the strikes have eaten the senses of the government till they are deadened. Maybe, just maybe, we are dealing with a no –sense government and leadership.  It does not take a genius to realize how serious security issues in this country are. Lest we forget what happened in Tana Delta only a matter of a few weeks ago. Or even more recently, what extreme horrors we saw committed by MRC. It is at this crucial time, when terrorists, criminals, politically instigated violence and murders occur, that a person thinks he or she should withhold an already approved pay rise, well that tells you what a lack of sense this government has.

Perhaps a go-slow on personal security will quicken the pace of salary payments. I understand some of these officials have up to 4 police escorts at any one time. Some even have 60 policemen to protect them, while the rest of the nation has to share one policeman to every 4000 people or more.  In reality, and on a personal level, most Kenyans won’t actually notice the go-slow; the police service goes very slowly anyway, due to being overwhelmed. I am hoping that the threat to personal security will be so alarming to these “big men” that they respond accordingly.

But, should that fail, it would be best then for us to hope for a state of emergency to occur. Only then would the level of security in Kenya finally become a homogenous concern.  Because it doesn’t take a genius to realize that when you get your salary the first person you should pay is your security guard. In the same vein, it does not take a genius to realize that a country like Kenya which is at war with Al-Shabaab, and is a mere 4 months to a general election, should ensure that the police service is not only paid their dues as agreed upon, but also fully resourced and kitted out. Sadly, we don’t have any geniuses in government, nor do we seem to have people with enough I.Q to figure out these simple facts.

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