Top leaders break Covid-19 rules

Deputy President William Ruto during an Interdenominational prayer service in Bumula, Bungoma County, on September 27, 2020. [DPPS, Standard]

The heightened political activity around the country, even as the Health ministry continues to urge citizens to observe Covid-19 safety protocols, is an indictment of our top leadership.

President Uhuru Kenyatta, his deputy William Ruto and ODM leader Raila Odinga have reverted to the ‘old normal’, flouting health safeguards with abandon.

While everybody else is compelled to strictly observe regulations put in place to contain the spread of the coronavirus disease, our politicians are busy setting a bad example for the masses.

It is ironic that while Health Cabinet Secretary Mutahi Kagwe and his team have constantly reminded Kenyans to wear masks, keep social distance and sanitise, his bosses have been defying these orders in public.

Citizens who break the law have been arrested, arraigned and slapped with hefty fines. There have also been instances where public gatherings have been stormed by law enforcers over failure to observe social distance rules.

Nairobi Senator Johnson Sakaja had to relinquish his position as chairman of the Senate ad hoc Committee on Covid-19 after being arrested in a bar for flouting curfew.

Places of worship and business, and social joints still face restrictions that have crippled the economy, yet our political overlords have thrown caution to the wind as they preside over huge gatherings.

While Kenyans initially questioned the imposition of these guidelines, especially on the numbers that are supposed to attend places of worship and functions such as weddings and burials, politicians appear to be exempt from the same rules.

Flatten the curve

Uhuru, Ruto and Raila have been presiding over rallies without donning masks and where social distance is not observed. They appear to have declared an end to the restrictions, even before the expected official reopening of the economy.

It is widely expected that Uhuru will ease the restrictions when he addresses the nation, especially with the Covid-19 infection curve slowly flattening.

Uhuru was seen as speaking from both sides of his mouth after giving leaders a tongue lashing for violating social distancing measures, only to be seen a few days later engaging crowds in a Nairobi slum where he commissioned the construction of three hospitals. “Those are the people who have interpreted the de-escalation of the measures as a green light to pay no heed to the guidance by our health authorities. Their reckless actions are endangering those around them, and our country,” the President said.

He had even asked the Inspector General of Police to deal firmly with anyone found violating the guidelines, irrespective of their social status.

Ruto seems to have borrowed a leaf from his boss. He has been holding rallies where social distancing cannot be enforced, and, even worse, at times not wearing a mask.

The DP has held public meetings and rallies at the Coast, in Nairobi and Kajiado.

When he visited Jubilee Centre on Wednesday and addressed media, he did not wear a mask and neither did party supporters who flanked him, except for Secretary-General Raphael Tuju.

Raila has also attended public meetings where caution has been thrown to the wind. His tours of the Coast have seen him engage in close quarters with hundreds of residents.

International Centre for Policy and Conflict Executive Director Ndung’u Wainaina says it is embarrassing for top politicians to break rules meant to contain the disease.

“President Kenyatta is the one leading the violation against these rules. It creates a situation where Kenyans start feeling like some people are more equal than others. If you dare step out of the house without a mask, the police will be after you. Yet the President has been flouting these measures at will,” said Mr Wainaina.

He added that these actions would sow doubt among citizens on whether the government was sincere about fighting the pandemic.

“It is this flouting of protocols that has led some Kenyans to think that Covid-19 is just another enterprise. If politicians can hold rallies without any controls, they should declare churches and mosques open unconditionally. They should also allow bars to resume normal business,” he said.

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