There is a difference – I dare posit, between observing and seeing. Similarly, there is a difference between hearing and listening.
I do hope that the authorities, particularly those in law enforcement, will listen to this post, not merely hear what I have to say.
‘Impunity’ is a word that has been bandied a great deal in our country. It’s resounding in prime time news, debate shows, in our local dailies and ubiquitous radio waves. A day doesn’t pass before one hears the word.
The greatest impunity in our society is not the obscure yet wanton graft that transpires within the walls of public institutions. It’s not in the ‘briefcase’ wheeler-dealing that takes place away from our prying eyes and cocked ears.
The greatest impunity is that which manifests itself everyday under our very noses. It’s in the streets. It’s in how we drive, in turning public roads and footpaths into small open-air shops, in carting our mikokotenis on the wrong side of the road, real examples are inexhaustible.
Do you see my point?
Our roads are indisputably the most famous theaters of impunity. Matatu drivers bully us everyday and everywhere. They overlap, make sudden stops, drive with reckless abandon, break virtually every traffic rule on the book. The public is helpless because matatu drivers and a growing number of private motorists have triumphed over those responsible for maintaining law and order.
My 4-year old son doesn’t see or hear about the runaway white-collar graft happening in side parastatals. But I fear that he and many other kids are growing up learning that it’s ok to be a lout; that being rebellious on the road and in the streets is cool.
It is this visible impunity that the authorities should resolutely rein on not merely because of the illegality involved, but also due to the fact that the tacit tolerance by law enforcers is encouraging a general state of matatu-type lawlessness in our society. When a generation learns that its society condones bad manners, it gets emboldened to disregard every fabric of the law with care-free abandon.
A parent striving to raise law abiding kids is looking up to you public authorities charged with bringing about law and order to diligently play your part.
But, are you listening?
As for matatu drivers and reckless private motorists in these days of incessant traffic jams – I have a practicable idea that will bring about order on the road (particularly in the major urban towns).
Central and county government agencies are increasingly on social media. It’s not lost on me that electronic evidence is now admissible in courts of law in Kenya.
So how about initiating a campaign allowing citizenry to share photo or video evidence of offending motorists on Twitter and Instagram with the authorities? For this to work, just adopt a hashtag that can be used, say, #NyumbaKumiReport, and then feedback a case reference number within an hour to the person reporting an incident.
If I had it my way, I would see to it that the prosecuting authorities via mobile money share a percentage of the resultant fines (upon successful prosecution) with the individual who volunteers incriminating evidence. Sounds far-fetched? I don’t think so. It can be done. Stay with me.
All you do is start off an online portal on which any adult can register. One should even be able to register anonymously, provided that they disclose their mobile numbers, Twitter and Instagram handles. They can bare their identities privately should they be required to testify in court.
Overall, collaborative efforts are needed to stem impunity. Use of social media whistle-blowing tactics, especially where there is indisputable, ready incriminating evidence can go a long way in encouraging a law-abiding society.
Of course, corruption has a way of fighting back any initiatives that threaten its very existence. It takes nose-to-the-grindstone guts to adopt and oversee ideas such as the one described here.
Matatu drivers have guts, and they don’t care. To get rid of our increasingly matatu-type society, we need a leader who similarly doesn’t care, and has guts. I care much about our country. I don’t care what morally acceptable methods we use to become a great Society.
We have been ‘business as usual’ for far too long. It’s about time the authorities concerned became ingenious and employed business unusual tactics to overcome the threats to our societal well-being. By publishing this post, I’ve played my role as a private citizen.
If you believe nothing is impossible, I am listening.