By Stanley Kamau
The Failed States Index 2012 published by the Foreign Policy Magazine and Fund for Peace has ranked Kenya as the 16th most failed state in the world fairing worse than Congo Republic, Myanmar, Niger and Ethiopia. See the rankings here.
Kenya today demonstrates the symptoms of an extremely weak state that is failing very fast if not failed yet. Most fundamentally, the physical security of the citizens is at great risk. In the last few weeks, the number of people who have died as a result of majorly avoidable circumstances such as grenade attacks, collapsed buildings and road accidents is in the hundreds. The government seems completely unable to assure the citizenry of their security. The most recent attack in two churches in Garissa that claimed the lives of 17 people is a grave demonstration of this fact.
A failed state is one which can no longer effectively perform the basic functions such as security, governance and service provision effectively due to violence, poverty or disintegration of the society. As a result, the state loses the monopoly over the instruments of violence leaving the citizens to fall victim to criminal gangs and terrorist groups. The legitimacy of the state comes into question and the citizenry may seek protection from other sources or seek to dissociate themselves from the state.
The most basic role of the state is to ensure its survival which is dependent on its ability to ensure that its citizens are secure and free from threats of attack from air, land and sea. So far, we don’t feel very secure. Furthermore, the state must ensure that the citizens are food secure which remains a dream in Kenya, almost fifty years after independence. The levels of unemployment in Kenya and the accompanying poverty is a ticking time bomb that is waiting to explode. Yet the chosen debate amongst our leaders at present and seemingly the most pressing issue is whether or not MPs should be required to have degrees?
I agree with presidential aspirant Peter Kenneth that security cannot be a debatable issue let alone a negotiable one; we are either secure or we are not! Every citizen has, and indeed has the right to harbor, grievances against the state. However, these rights cannot be extended to allow people to threaten the lives and livelihoods of others let alone talk of secession. Most importantly, no government should entertain such occurrences. Once we negotiate with one what will stop others from demanding the same? There is such a thing as the law of unintended consequences which our leaders must be alive to.
Going forward, our security organs must be very vigilant. Our leaders must also demonstrate to us that they are taking action against the criminal elements within us; public assurances that are quickly followed by further attacks do not inspire much confidence. Let those that we have put in office to speak for us demand action from government because if Kenya fails, we will all be in the same pit begging for the mercy of God.
As I had argued in a previous post Kenya is Failing Fast, If we don’t choose to build a brighter and better Kenya for ourselves; we shall only have ourselves to blame. Our political, economic and social security requires a complete transformation of the present institutional setup. We must stand by demanding action and then by making the right choices.