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Should civilians be allowed to put on military-like clothes?

OPINION
By Standard Reporter | November 3rd 2017

There is no harm, any attire (even military fatigues) can be used for civilian clothing provided individuals wearing them are not armed. Our laws are against it but we did not cast the laws in stone. Wearing anything that matches our forces’ uniform is in fact an expression of patriotism.

We must recall that thousands dreamed to serve in the forces but failed to get a slot and the only solace they have is in donning a military-like fatigues. Citizens should be allowed to freely wear the fatigues with no harassment or intimidation from any quarters provided they are not breaking any law. However, I would not support criminals and gangs that use the attires to indulge in unlawful acts or to intimidate the public.

At the same time, military fatigues should not be worn in places of security operations or crisis. So anyone who dons military-like clothes should do so but be cautious of where he or she visits.

The Kenyan law must swallow the reality that people who don such clothes are not in competition with uniformed forces but merely expressing their pride in the said forces. A politician wearing it in fact shows greater patriotism and solidarity with our forces who brave many challenges to make us have a peaceful society.

Mukembu Kibaki, Meru town resident.

Wearing of clothes, shoes or berets similar to those of the military is wrong, unethical and poses a threat to peace-loving citizens. It in fact amounts to open disregard for the law.

I have recently seen pro-Jubilee politicians wear the said fatigues on national TV and feeling like all was well. Politicians must understand that they wield a lot of influence over the masses and that when they start disobeying the law by donning military fatigues they are opening a floodgate to lawlessness. In Somalia for example, warlords started their acts by fitting their militias with uniforms, then guns and then there was no country to speak about.

With the transformation of NASA to National Resistance Movement, we may see members of the outfit start wearing military attire to rival their Jubilee counterparts. The Government must be very firm on such gross misconduct and punish the perpetrators of the offence, which violates our uniformed forces’ standing orders. One of them in Section 101 of National Police Service Act holds offenders liable on conviction to a fine not exceeding one million shillings or to a term of imprisonment not exceeding ten years, or to both.

And Section 279 of the KDF Act provides for imprisonment for a term not exceeding one year for offenders found guilty of donning the attire.

The acts speak volumes on how wrong it is to wear such fatigues yet our police have been looking the other way as citizens and leaders freely dress like they belong to the uniformed forces.

Antony Manyara, student leader at the University of Nairobi

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