All human beings treasure security, and yearn to live without fear. We can’t be guaranteed long lives, but we should expect that our Government will not try to murder us and it will do its utmost to prevent fellow citizens from doing so.
Security rises and falls with the ability of a state to deter an attack or defeat it. Of all the political goods a state can provide, none is more fundamental than security. Without security life is solitary, poor, nasty, brutish and short.
Criminal violence in Kenya is growing. Restlessness in the country, increased insecurity and growing violence are weakening the authority of the State. The reaction of the State to this violence is further fracturing a country with disharmonious communities.
The violence is intense, widespread, unchecked and enduring. Because of the violence, the standards of living in Kenya have massively deteriorated and the quality of ordinary life is decaying.
Many lives are being lost. Daily. Countrywide. Property is been destroyed. Where it is not destroyed, it is stolen through violent means. Insecurity has led to downscaling — in some cases outright closure — of many businesses and loss of jobs.
The capacity of the State to deal with the growing insecurity seems to be deteriorating. There is also a growing perception that the little capacity there is has been devoted for the protection and compensation of a select few.
When a government is seen to be working only for itself and its favoured, its legitimacy in the eyes and the hearts of the citizens plummets. The people perceive it as owned by an exclusive class— “wenye nchi”.
There is no atmosphere of security anywhere. This is weakening the country and leading it down the aisle to internal war and the club of failed states.
The growing and continuing violence in Kenya and the failure to decisively deal with it is not accidental. It is not natural. It is man-made.
It is the result of leadership decisions, failures of leadership and lack of leadership.
Under Articles 238 and 239 of the Constitution, the National Police Service, the Kenya Defence Forces and the National Intelligence Service have the responsibility to protect Kenya and Kenyans, their rights, freedoms, property, peace, stability and prosperity.
KDF, NIS and the police are placed under the overall control and supervision of the National Security Council established by the Constitution. The Council comprises the President, his Deputy, the Attorney General, the Chief of KDF, the Director-General of NIS, the Inspector General of the Police, and the Cabinet Secretaries in charge of Defence, Foreign Affairs, and Internal Security.
Our state security organs and the National Security Council have failed. To see these failures, look no further than the lost lives and property, and the freedoms and rights the government is continuously asking Kenyans to give up in order to guarantee their security.
Kenyans have also failed. One of the indicators of a failed state is communities living in disharmony. Even amongst ourselves we cannot agree that it is our government that should guarantee our security; it has failed to do so; and that we are entitled to and should demand more from it.
In 2002 Robert Rotberg had the following to say about Kenya, in an article he published in the Washington Quarterly about failed states: “Even Kenya is a weak state with some potential for definite failure if ethnic disparities and ambitions provoke civil strife”. This article was written before the post-election violence of 2007/08, Westgate, Baringo, Bungoma, Mandera, Garissa, Wajir and Mpeketoni. What would he write of the Kenya of today?
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