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Breakers of the same laws they make

By Cosmas Butunyi | July 24th 2020

When individuals offer themselves for elective position, a common pretext is usually acceding to the fervent call of the people to serve them. That they did not really want to run for office, but what do you do when the community insists?

Wait until their bids are successful and they are safely in office, with the massive perks that come with it. That is when they begin to do anything else but serve these same people.

Welcome to representation, the Kenyan way. Rather than seize the opportunity to render service, it is taken as one for self-aggrandizement, looting from public coffers and generally enjoying the privilege.

There is rarely a law that the typical politician will encounter on any good day and fail to break. After all, why would they bother much with what they are the ones who wrote up, in the first place? One would expect that being the work of their hands, lawmakers would at least follow it to the letter, in respect of the great effort invested. But alas!

For them, the laws they write are for the rest of us, ordinary mortals. Not for their esteemed selves. Neither is the law for their friends, families and hangers-on. That is why they will break the law with abandon and get surprised when they get apprehended. How dare anyone try to make them follow laws that do not deserve them, in the first place?

After all, they are the owners of the country, not mere citizens. That is why the honourable members will always expect to go scot free even when their day of reckoning arrives. They will drive on the wrong side of the road, sirens wailing and their security detail pushing everyone out of the way. Even in these times of the pandemic, they will continue to disregard well-meaning measures to contain its spread, show up without masks, insist on shaking hands and disregard curfew regulations.

Surprisingly, this disrespect for the rule of law has been institutionalized, over time. No wonder, when one of the legislators is fingered for disrespecting the law, the rest of them will quickly rush to their defense. Of course, they will feel nothing publicly expressing their support for their colleagues with terrible manners. In short, they are confirming to us that they are not subject to those things we call the law. They will do all it takes, including appearing for them in court, as attorney, even if it is for grave crimes such as corruption and maiming others. What nerve!

Since these individuals are determined to pee on the laws, enforcers of order are their punching bags of choice. The honourable members will insult and disrespect a police officer, even if they are the ones on the wrong. After all, what could a cop do to the big men and women? There may be the law governing the land, but, at the end of the day, who wrote it? It gets so much into their heads that they will threaten to transfer or fire anyone who stands in the way. They will even spill bucket-fuls of water on officers in public because they can do them nothing.

For some reason, even the custodians of these laws often do little to enforce them when there is a small window of opportunity. Even after they are convicted, it is little more than a slap on the wrist. Effectively, they miss an opportunity to set a precedent.

Even us citizens are doing little to help the cause. We are gullible and our so-called leaders know it. When in the wrong, they will play victim accusing everyone else for judging them too harshly. Guilt-tripped, this will have us swooning, making excuses for the bad manners and apologizing for expecting better from the big ladies and gentlemen.

Cornered, the leaders will give a half-hearted apology that we will cheer on uproariously. We marvel at how humble a leader can be as to even consider saying sorry to us. We abet their bad manners because we have accepted that we are small people and they are big with power to break the law. Clearly, as someone famously said, we get the leaders we deserve.

Ultimately, leadership, of whatever kind is supposed to be a divine mission and all about service. One cannot call themselves leaders when all they see in the position is an opportunity to escape the supposed long arm of the law. They prefer making rules as they go.

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