Harassing Coast leaders is a big mistake

Denying a person a privilege because of political differences is totally uncalled for.

Wednesday March 16 2016

Cabinet Secretary for Interior and Co-ordination of National Government, Retired Major General Joseph Nkaissery addresses the media at his office on March 12, 2016 on security matters. He ordered Mombasa Governor Hassan Joho to surrender his firearm. The directive raises fundamental questions about the advisers of government officials on the issues affecting the Coast region. PHOTO | JEFF ANGOTE | NATION MEDIA GROUP

Cabinet Secretary for Interior and Co-ordination of National Government, Retired Major General Joseph Nkaissery addresses the media at his office on March 12, 2016 on security matters. He ordered Mombasa Governor Hassan Joho to surrender his firearm. The directive raises fundamental questions about the advisers of government officials on the issues affecting the Coast region. PHOTO | JEFF ANGOTE | NATION MEDIA GROUP 

The directive to withdraw Mombasa Governor Hassan Joho’s security detail and firearm licence raises fundamental questions about the advisers of government officials, especially those of the Interior Cabinet secretary and the police on the issues affecting the Coast region.

In 21st century Kenya, intimidation, harassment, and denying a person a privilege because of political differences is totally uncalled for.

Such primitive tendencies can only be acceptable in some African countries that pay lip service to freedom and democracy.

The current standoff is not going to help the Jubilee government, not if it wants to win the Coast vote and a safer region.

In fact, this will play into the local people’s narrative that “Tume tengwa”, “Pwani si Kenya”, “Our religion is targeted”, “Our leaders are targeted”, “Our youth are targeted”.

Mr Joho is entitled to security and to feel secure, just like any other Kenyan. He has some privileges as the governor of Mombasa and he should enjoy what he is entitled to.

That does not mean he can be trusted with a gun or several guns. No one should be trusted with a gun. No one can be trusted with a gun, not even the police.

The Kenyan Government has the right to issue or revoke a gun ownership licence but it cannot appear to be playing politics with issues of this magnitude.

FIREARMS ACT

The Firearms Act prohibits perennial alcoholics, drug addicts, mentally unbalanced persons, or persons with a criminal record from owning guns or obtaining a licence.

Does Mr Joho or his Kilifi counterpart, Mr Amason Kingi, display any of these traits? If they do, then there are many other politicians who should not be allowed to hold a gun because they act like lunatics.

The Act also touches on private gun licences. Revolvers and pistols are only issued to the police and armed forces personnel.

So the question is: who gave Mr Joho the licence to own a pistol in the first place?

If something were to happen to Mr Joho now (God forbid), even if it is accidental, you can be sure that coastal Kenya will never be the same again. Not after the government closed his business.

Not after the President pitched camp at the Coast for a month and ignored him completely. Not after the Coast leaders mounted the onslaught that beat Jubilee in the recent Malindi by-elections.

Retired Major General Joseph Nkaissery and the government he is serving should and must do better than this.

POLITICS

There are some things you cannot play politics with. Not in Coast region, where people are already reading mischief in every move that the government makes.

If the government wanted proof that Mr Joho cannot be trusted with a gun, it could have done it in a much calmer way and not through the mobile phone and the media.

It has the machinery and the means to do so. In fact, Governor Joho can be kept on a leash by simply placing or attaching a government informant to his security detail.

That is how smart government, and especially investigative agencies, do their work. Politics and its theatrics are set aside.

Let us not forget that the terrorist group, Al-Shabaab, is eyeing any opportunity to get a toe into the Coast region.

They have always wanted people to believe that the Kenyan Government does not care about the people of the Coast, especially the Muslims.

The more the government appears to be targeting leaders from the Coast region, the more likely Al-Shabaab is to get sympathisers there.

We cannot afford to be fighting among ourselves when we have an enemy who is looking for any opportunity to strike at us.

Mr Plato is an analyst with Gravio Africa. [email protected]

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