BY MUGO KIBATI
The year 2013, heralds a new era in national security management. The focus is now on the recently appointed Inspector General of Police,David Kimaiyo, and his team as they take on the challenge of security reforms under current and emerging threats.
We have a police force facing dynamic external challenges that include terrorism; organised crime; road safety; illicit small arms and light weapons; drug and substance abuse; human trafficking; and perhaps most serious, a culture of indiscipline and lawlessness among the general public.
Such challenges make for a lethal cocktail of security risks against a backdrop of internal bottlenecks like inadequate human resource capacity and other structural deficiencies. Our new Inspector General will have to design modern ways to address these together with other security organs, government agencies, private sector and mwenyenchi.
National security is a critical element underpinning the success of Vision 2030. The national security organs – the Kenya Defence Forces, the National Intelligence Service and the National Police Service – have a key role to play within Vision 2030 in ensuring security, peace building and conflict management. When they work well, we will see social cohesion, economic development and global competitiveness, and the improvement of living standards for all Kenyans.
Nevertheless, the appointment of senior officers in the police force is only the first step. The new Inspector General will require the backing of all stakeholders to immediately get to work, including drawing up a strategic plan of action on how the force will deliver effectively now, and evolve to meet the future needs of the nation.
On-going judicial reforms provide many lessons. It is not enough just to focus on governance issues in the sector. Thorough vetting of all senior police officers and instituting robust mechanisms to ensure hiring and promotion on merit is crucial; as has been vividly illustrated by the recent “imposter” incident.
However, it is equally important to invest in the broader enabling environment including deploying modern technologies towards efficient policing as well as better working and living conditions in order to boost morale and build a sense of pride in one’s work.
Currently, majority of Kenya’s police force live in poor housing conditions, operate from outdated and inadequately equipped police stations, lack vehicles and protective gear and have few opportunities for advanced training. Such challenges result in low morale and present a breeding ground for benign corruption or worse. On-going efforts to build new living quarters and provide adequate modern equipment including vehicles are a commendable start. However, we must provide significantly more resources to equip and rejuvenate our hardworking officers in all the security forces, to ensure both their rights and those of Kenyans are protected.
The resources recommended by the Police Reforms Taskforce must be made available as soon as possible along the timelines proposed by the Police Reforms Implementation Committee to enable Inspector General Kimaiyo to undertake his responsibilities, show results, and lead in continuing to build trust between the police and the public.
We also need to resource the entire law and order continuum to provide justice to Kenyans and promote a culture of rule of law. Investments in the judiciary, though crucial, will be futile unless the police and prosecution are reformed as well. If a crime has been committed, justice is unlikely to be served unless Wenyenchi can call the police who arrive on the scene in good time. The police must have received the appropriate training and equipment to collect and store evidence that a properly prepared (i.e. trained and resourced) prosecution can then present in court, and which the reforming judiciary can then assess and make decisions upon.
This holistic approach to justice reforms sets the basis for the stronger rule of law institutions that will underpin the transformation of the Kenyan society as envisaged in Vision 2030.
Wenyenchi particularly have a critical role to play in upholding the rule of law, co-operating with the police and holding their leadership to account. Inspector General Kimaiyo and his senior officers take up their new responsibilities with significant goodwill from the public, presenting a real opportunity to accelerate the changes needed.
At the Vision 2030 Secretariat, we look forward to working together with Inspector General Kimaiyo and his new team on securing Kenya and achieving the Vision’s objectives.
(Mugo Kibati is the Director General of the Vision 2030 Delivery Secretariat. Email [email protected])