Uhuru Park disaster has vital lessons

As we ponder the sad events of Sunday night that left six people dead and more than 100 more injured, we must reflect and learn lessons from the events of that fateful evening as we approach the August 4 referendum.

The reality is that we are in a crucial and precarious period of our history than we possibly imagined.  This time is more critical given the events of 2008 and ought to be handled with more care, responsibility and firmness.

Safety should be a priority in the ongoing campaigns which are disguised as civic education. Security agencies must assure us they are able to protect us. The fact that someone penetrated crowds and hurled three grenades at innocent people exposes the lapses in our security apparatus.

I fail to understand the security lapse at the meeting.  How could the police have allowed the clergy, (who they know are firmly ‘Red,’) to hold a meeting of such a magnitude without an elaborate security plan?

It is appalling that police were nowhere in sight at the meeting attended by hundreds of thousands of.  When the attack took place we are told a pastor told people to relax because it was an electric fault.  If police were present, they probably would have prevented further mayhem.

Since it is unlikely we will ban these rallies, Commissioner Matthew Iteere must now be prepared to show us that his force of over 40,000 deserves pay.

I have seen lorry loads of anti-riot police packed at Ngara to keep hawkers at bay from the city centre.  For now, deploy these officers to such meetings.  (I bet council askaris assisted by the national Youth Service can handle the hawkers).

Intelligence gathering would have told police that this was not simply a crusade but a No campaign rally. They should have known politicians were likely to ‘invade’ the meeting. With this in mind security should have been heightened.

The clergy are also in the dock on this one. We are made to understand that this was a crusade.  Not a campaign meeting.  I recall seeing fathers, mothers and children at Uhuru Park.  I can bet that if they knew this was a katiba rally, they would probably not have taken their families along.

 My last charge on the clergy could hinge on ethics and morals but I still wonder why our bishops are getting their ‘hands dirty’ with politicians.  They say theirs is about opposing a document that is morally wrong but I question their strategy in partnering with politicians in the campaign. They are giving the politicians an undue platform.

By the way, we have heard hate speech mongers have been identified. When are they going to be arrested and prosecuted?

The cohesion commission is no longer our “baby commission setting up its secretariat.” We are eager to see action on the hate speech mongers who are a key inspiration to criminals and would-be attackers.

Statements they have summoned ‘certain’ politicians are not impressive. These people continue to wield impunity which must be nipped.

To remind Chairman Mzalendo Kibunjia and his team of eight, we selected them to deal with hate speech. Theirs is a clear mandate: to watch and listen for us and facilitate arrests. I am tired of the “we are carrying out investigations” cliché.

Beyond the use of government machinery to protect innocent lives and apprehend the criminals, patriotism should be at its best now.

Whether you are ‘Green’ or ‘Red’ the Uhuru Park attack affects all of us in equal measure. This is our country and whether we pass or reject this Constitution we will remain Kenyans.

The reason we have a referendum is to make that crucial decision fairy and “respect the will of the people.”

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