Misused Opportunities and Misguided Efforts: State-led Corruption Exploited the Relief Intended to Help Kenyans Survive COVID-19  

We begin this press conference with a somber acknowledgement of the many who have died from COVID-19 complications. During this current wave of COVID-19 infections, many of us have either lost a loved one or know of someone who has. Further, the dire experience many have had, seeking hospital beds for their loved ones, has been extremely difficult and emotionally exhausting. Our prayers are with you as we continue to navigate this very challenging period whose severity could have been mitigated by better planning and preparedness by our government.  

We are compelled to issue this statement in response to the recent containment measures announced by the President.   

Among other measures, the President announced a cessation of movement in five counties, namely, Nairobi, Kiambu, Machakos, Kajiado & Nakuru. These five counties are a key gateway to the entire country and their lockdown has far reaching implications for our entire Nation. 

The first lockdown that was initiated almost a year ago to date, resulted in economic shockwaves that reverberated countrywide and continue to have an impact until today. 

Although several stimulus interventions were put in place to cushion Kenyans against the impact of the pandemic, massive job losses, disruption of schooling, strained healthcare provision and more challenges were still experience. It was as though the country’s heart had stopped beating.  

The relaxing of the lockdown, four months later, was therefore a welcome relief, coming at a time many businesses had suffered great losses forcing them to scale down or close all together.  

As Kenyans were suffering, COVID millionaires and billionaires were being minted.  These continue to walk scot free enjoying their ill-gotten wealth while Kenyans are being ravaged by COVID-19 and ill served by an ill prepared health system that is unable to respond to the critically ill and unable to provide adequate vaccines.  The second lock down provides them with more opportunities to continue looting, unless and until action is taken. 

It is against this background that Kenyans have reacted with shock to the second lockdown which comes at a time when businesses were beginning to recover, some more successfully than others, some are struggling to recover, with some unable to resume operations. Sadly, the mere announcement of the lockdown signals a new set of automatic job losses in many sectors that the lock down will directly and indirectly affect.

The cost of living continues to rise exacerbated by unjustifiable spiraling of fuel prices. Parts of the country are facing looming food crisis and there is a desperate lack of access to healthcare by many, against a backdrop of overworked and under protected health care workforce. 

We are greatly aggrieved that the Jubilee administration DID NOT outline any measures to address these hardship realities as they announced the lockdown. A Lockdown is not an end in itself, rather, it is meant to slow community transmission and enable a country to enhance its preparedness to respond to the pandemic. This is what the first lock down should have achieved!

Without plans and funding to procure adequate vaccines and improve our health services in all the counties, the lockdown is but a haphazard measure that will only create more suffering to the vulnerable without any tangible benefit.

Kenyans will recall that a majority of citizens zealously observed the COVID-19 protocols and that it is the top political players who led their supporters into mass rallies in total disregard of COVID-19 protocols while campaigning for BBI and the just concluded by-elections. 

While almost all of the top political leaders are on government salary or stipend, the ordinary citizens are on their own to face the stark realities of the lockdown and shoulder the burden of its brutal economic consequences.

To Cushion The impact of the response to the new wave of COVID-19, we demand the following from President Kenyatta and His Government:
  1. That the government immediately takes up the costs of testing and treatment of COVID-19 in government facilities countrywide
  2. That the government intensified testing and vaccinations in the areas designated as Disease Infected Zones to ensure a return to normalcy at the earliest moment possible;
  3. That the government urgently procures adequate vaccines to cover all those in need and eligible for the vaccines.
  4. That the governments take immediate steps to enhance capacity in all county hospitals for testing and response to the critically ill.
  5.  That the government immediately provides food subsidies and expanded transfers to the vulnerable.
  6. That the governments fast rack investigations and prosecutions in the Covid-19 related corruption as way of building trust in the response process.
  7. That the government institutes taxation measures to cushion citizens and businesses from the adverse economic effects of the lockdown.

Finally the government must consult with businesses and Kenyans on the way forward in order to bridge the gap between policy pronouncements and people’s needs.  

Thank you, and May God Bless Kenya.

Signed by,

Hon. Martha Karua

National Chairperson

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