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Impunity: How Kenya’s top leaders are flouting COVID-19 protocols with public meetings

DP Ruto addressing a roadside rally in Kawangware on August 15, 2021.

COVID-19 protocols are flouted with impunity in Kenya despite tough measures announced by the Ministry of Health on July 30.

While public meetings remain suspended, leaders are holding huge meetings daily across the country in total disregard of the warnings issued by Health Cabinet Secretary Mutahi Kagwe and Inspector General of Police Hillary Mutyambai who vowed to strictly enforce them.

So just why are the protocols enforced selectively?

Ever since COVID-19 broke out in the country in March 2020, the Ministry of Health has been issuing warnings which are largely flouted by political leaders who have lately intensified their meetings often hosting large crowds, all seen as campaigns ahead of the 2022 General Election.

"We will not allow any public gatherings to take place anywhere," Kagwe warned on July 30, when he read a statement of the National Emergency Response Committee (NERC) which he chairs, "police will strictly enforce this order."

Kagwe said "in line with the directive to avoid crowded places where transmission has been shown to be more likely, a. All public gatherings and in-person meetings of whatever nature be suspended countrywide. In this regard, all Government including Intergovernmental meetings and conferences be converted to virtual or postponed. The ban on gatherings has been in place for several months but is often violated by top leaders who hold political rallies and roadside meetings in total disregard of the COVID-19 containment measures."

Inspector General of Police Hillary Mutyambai said he had directed all his Commanders to enforce the order to ensure no meetings are held. "If you fail to comply, we know what we will do to have you comply."

Kenya's top leaders have been attending crowded churches despite a directive by the Health Ministry that "All forms of physical/congregational worship in the country (churches, mosques, temples) be permitted as per the guidance of the Inter-Faith Council protocols. In-person worship should be limited to a third of the capacity of the venue in strict adherence with the guidelines and protocols of the Ministry of Health.

Wiper Leader Kalonzo Musyoka launched his presidential campaign on August 9, 2021 in Nairobi, at a ceremony attended by hundreds with no social distancing.

This article was published by Capital FM.


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