BY OCHIENG M.KHAIRALLA
Police Reforms are at the very crux of the emerging dispensation since the spirit of the Supreme law resides in the just rule of law in so far as strict fidelity to the law is of utmost value and therefore the resultant constitutional culture ordinarily referred to in legal parlance as constitutionalism. As a consequence, the ongoing police reforms are critical to the overall well being of the state and therefore must be shielded from the vagaries of vested interest, political calculations and myopia.
The current hullaballoo on police deployment during elections is instructive as it constitutes a serious subject as well an indictment on the reform agenda as to the ignorable failure to anchor reforms on the greater good of the nation. Suffice it to note that police reforms are more than mere preoccupation and obsession with numbers. Indeed numbers without genuine reforms will no doubt yield undesired consequences especially putting into perspective the 2008 post election mayhem and the unpleasant discoveries that necessitated the ongoing security sector reforms in the country.
It is common knowledge that there are as many good police officers as there are criminals in police uniform’ especially ethnic and organised criminal gangs who are still beholden to tribal warlords and ethnic king-pins; the reason why current lackadaisical attitude, ecstatic paralysis and associated shenanigans around police reforms are not only annoying but are increasingly disturbing, no doubt the dilemma of a new dawn amidst marauding impunity.
Holding democratic elections in nascent and emerging democracies that are torn and are increasingly polarised along ethnic and religious lines no doubt posit challenges of varying dimensions. An ardent appraisal and comparative studies the world over reveal worrying trends where democratic elections were merely a prelude to ethnic and religious slaughter as was the sad case in Bosnia. Kenyan scenario today is exceptionally fluid by reason of the nuances of a transition within a transition amidst abrasive ethnic mobilization and cantankerous power calculations. Indeed a case for serious democratic experiment and therefore the urgent need to place the country on the genuine trajectory of serious reforms.
Genuine police reforms will no doubt usher in a responsive dispensation characterized by disciplined police service in strict fidelity to the just rule of law as opposed to an in-disciplined, ethnic and criminal police at the reckless behest of tribal war-lords and ethnic king-pins apparently under the disguise of consolidating ethnic power and resultant political albeit criminal innuendoes of it is our time to destroy others so us to consolidate and retain or ascend to power. This was the unpleasant political scheme and the attendant disaster of the abortive 2005 referendum and the subsequent political processes and indeed the reason why the country embarked on institutional, legal and comprehensive reforms.
Police Reforms, it is important to note, constituted a critical plank of the reform agenda especially noting the fact that police reforms are largely predicated upon national values and principles and the corpus of citizen rights and responsibilities in accordance with the collective aspirations as enunciated in the Supreme Law of the Land.
Managing constitutional and electoral transitions is exceptionally delicate and challenging especially given the political calculations in the succession power struggles and associated politics as well the incessant struggles between the old constitutional spirit and the emerging dispensation. The tendency of political parties to form along ethnic and religious lines is likely to disturb the national political tectonic plates and hence trigger political earth-quakes and associated conflicts of unimaginable proportions. Already it is increasingly becoming apparent that the very concept of the new law has very little meaning in countries where for decades, constitutions were nothing more than window dressing for authoritarianism, dictatorship, indiscipline and political promiscuity.
The fact that Kenyans promulgated a new constitution recently has not helped much in so far as the need to uphold national values and principles is of utmost value and essence. Instead, it is increasingly becoming apparent that the political class’ continued preoccupation with xenophobic calculations, pernicious avarice and ethnic bravado is holding sway and continue to pervade societal rubric with disturbing ripples upon the citizenry.
Deliberate acts of ethnic and religious manipulation are on the increase as people are increasingly induced into ethnic fear on the basis of what would happen to them if they do not stick with their own. The political economy of violence and tribalism is assuming centrality with incessant alacrity. As a consequence, the dilemma of affirming the new dawn amidst marauding impunity is real and is wrought with challenges of gargantuan proportions.
Quick fixes in the name of reforms will no doubt posit tragic consequences through reckless acts of deceit, manipulation and blackmail inundated to frustrate the new spirit by peddling (slipping in) through the backdoor, the old constitutional spirit thereby confirming the age-old adage, the more things change, the more they remain the same or become worse; indeed, the tragedy of clothing the new law in the old constitutional spirit and the attendant contradictions and associated conflicts.
Navigating reforms through the delicate path of transition within a transition (the emerging scenario) is overly challenging and does warrant bold, swift and decisive actions in strict fidelity to the greater good of the nation in as much as it requires objectivity, fore-sight and fidelity to the law. Security Sector Reforms is too critical to be plaid about with in the name of political calculations! Let us safeguard the democratic gains realized by anchoring reforms on integrity, responsibility, justice, discipline and moral probity.
God bless Kenya,
(Ochieng M.Khairalla is the Chairman, Living Light Foundation, firstname.lastname@example.org)