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Civil Society must declare its interest in ‘anti-SGR’ protests

By Sammy Kwinga | October 31st 2019 at 10:08:00 GMT +0300

Members of the civil societies and transporters chant slogans as they walk in a peaceful demonstration to protest against a government's order to have all containerized cargo transported to Nairobi's Inland Container Deport by the Standard Guage Railway line, October 22, 2019. [Gedion Maundu, Standard]

There is more than meets the eye in the sporadic ‘anti-SGR’ protests taking place in Mombasa.

The evolution of the demos in recent weeks clearly points to clear infiltration by outfits with some wicked agenda.

When the agitation to have the Government rescind the directive to transport all bulk cargo by the Standard Gauge Railway started in early September; it involved only those directly affected by the order. Such groups encompassed businessmen, long-distance truck drivers, clearing and forwarding agents, clerks and casual labourers in container transportation. There was a sense of sincerity in the entire setup.

That was until the Muslim for Human Rights (Muhuri), Haki Africa and other shadowy civil society outfits, under the aegis of Fast Action Movement, hijacked the process and gave the push a whole new face.

Long after the Government yielded to the demands and suspended the cargo order, a fact genuine truck drivers have confirmed, the civil society has totally rebranded the protests, sidetracking from the SGR row.

The clamour has since radically shifted to a push for human rights and economic liberation across the country.

Fancy tags such as ‘Black Monday’ and ‘Hong Kong-like protests’ are being dropped around in abundance. The group is even publicly calling upon Kenyans to ape the ongoing violent protests in Chile.

Activists such as Maina Kiai have also suddenly emerged out of the blue and are all over supporting the protests.

Just what is cooking here? What is the motivation? I might not have a definite answer, but the only thing I can bet on is that this agitation is not about me and you. And neither is it for the common good. Recent history tells us that this is a selfish drive aimed at subverting the government.

For starters, those spearheading the protests are infamous entities that have had some nasty run-ins with the state.

Muhuri and Haki Africa have in the past been officially accused of funding terrorism in the country. They were among 85 organisations blacklisted over alleged terror funding links after the gory Garissa University College terror attack that left 148 people dead and 79 injured in 2015.

Some other activists supporting the protests are long-standing adversaries of the Government, who are known to be bankrolled by billionaire regime change pirate George Soros under the Open Society Foundation.

Their raw detestation and desire to oust President Uhuru Kenyatta was evident for all to see in the 2017 general election. The nefarious plot almost thrust the country into deadly civil strife, all to satisfy the power quest of a few individuals. Nothing has happened yet to suggest that this power thirst has been quenched, or that the hatred has melted.

Tourism Cabinet Secretary Najib Balala has credibly accused owners of Container Freight Stations (CFSs) of also sponsoring the anti-SGR demos to save their secret illegal businesses, which involve drugs and wildlife trafficking.

It was not surprising that the activists took to burning Balala’s effigy this week over his stinging remark. The truth always hurts.

Other quarters have pointed at reckless coast politicians who are exploiting the SGR cargo transport stand-off to gain political mileage as they seek to succeed Hassan Joho as Mombasa Governor.

From whichever angle you look at it, the demos appear to be spearheaded by malicious individuals hell-bent on using Wanjiku to cause economic sabotage for the sake of their own personal goals.

With such characters leading the current clamor, Kenyans must be wise and totally resist them.

Ordinary citizens must avoid being drawn into blindly fighting selfish battles that could push the country to the edge. They must rise up against these individuals plotting ills against their motherland.

It is undeniable that the country is facing social, economic and other challenges. But there are better ways, and better people, to address them.

Sammy Kwinga is a political scientist.

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