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Security reforms: The case of Kenya

Kenya’s development plan, the Vision 2030 blueprint, envisages a society free from danger (i.e protection from direct or physical violence) and fear (sense of safety and overall well-being).

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Vision 2030 also recognises safety and security as a key determinant in the direction and pattern of human settlement and investment. As such, security remains significant to national stability, growth and development.

The Constitution 2010 reconstructs security architecture to meet these aspirations.

Indeed, it provides that national security is a right just like other fundamental rights and freedoms found in the Bill of Rights.

Accordingly, the Vision 2030 and the constitution provides the basis for the security sector reforms, even if the reforms in the sector have been long overdue earlier than the time the two documents came in to shape the security policy agenda among others.

Security institutions are still undergoing restructuring in order to meet the constitutional requirements.

This has necessitated the formation of new institutions in a bid to bring about a new face in the security service system. For instance, National Police Service Commission was established and charged with the responsibility of managing, regulating and supervising the policing services in Kenya.

The extreme excesses of the police in their line of duty further necessitated the provision of oversight mechanisms, through the Independent Policing Oversight Authority.

To enhance clarity in command, the command structure of the police was also restructured to put all the police units under one commander, an inspector general, with his deputies being in charge of administrative police and Kenya police units.

In the same line, the National Police Service Commission has done comparative evaluation of existing approaches to devolution of security.

In this context, the policing system has also been devolved providing for a county commander of police with the deputies for administrative police and Kenya police units.

Provision of community policing as the component of police governance was a move particularly targeted at establishing a platform for the public and/or ordinary citizenry to engage in the national securitisation.

That the disciplined forces have to deal with ever-increasing expectations on their provisions of security services is no more than urgent. Indeed, there are increased small arms proliferations across the country necessitated by the porosity of Kenya’s borders of Somalia, Ethiopia, South Sudan and Uganda.

The crime in the country has increased at an enormous rate, even as money laundering and illicit drugs trade remain on the rise. The criminal gangs are increasingly taking up the roles of the security agencies in supply and management of security services.

Marginalised areas continue being the targets for brooding of these criminal gangs, as the citizenry continuously get exposed to substantive threats to their safety and security.

State informalisation in the context of security remains at the worst levels, than any other sectors of the economy.

With the constitutional reforms in place, it is also anticipated that there shall be strong oversight from parliament on the security governance system.

This however, is intertwined with the challenge of the lack of capacity by the parliamentarians to provide effective oversight due to the secrecy around security issues in the country.

This coupled with a disinterested, if not inactive citizenry to demand the adherence to the constitutional provisions of security creates a likelihood of the old approach to security falling back to place.

There are legal and institutional inconsistencies, especially as regards security institutional relations. This has created acrimony and fighting over the mandate as it is reminiscent in the relations between the office of the Inspector General of Police and the National Police Service Commission on redeployment, officers, discipline as well as recruitment processes, which roles are claimed by the NPSC as well as the IG.

This has created confusion in the internal security governance, eliciting calls for the amendments geared towards creating clarity in the system.

Threats to national security continue abounding as the economy becomes more complex with the focus on realising the vision 2030. As such, the possibilities of regrouping by the Al-shabaab and their sympathisers remain a real problem.

This couples with the co-existence with weak states such as Uganda, South Sudan and Somali, countries which brood resistance remnants out to recruit from among Kenyan Youth for their anti-state agenda. The ever-increasing youth underemployment provides a strong haven for the youth transition to criminals who threaten the peace and stability of the nation.

Emergence of irredentist groups like Mombasa Republican council
especially in the context of devol-ved governance creates a possibility of counties demanding separation from the main country Kenya.

Discovery of oil and coal among other previous natural resources will pose new developing challenges to security in the future, than it is today.

The small arms and light weapon proliferation is one of the biggest security challenges currently facing Kenya. The trafficking and wide availability of these weapons fuel instability, conflict and pose a threat, not only to security, but also to sustainable development.

The widespread proliferation of small arms contributes to alarming levels of armed crime, in both rural and urban areas, which exacerbates armed cattle rustling and conflicts in pastoralist areas.

Lastly, looking at the centrality of the civil society in the governance process, it is anticipated that the civil society is supposed to provide necessary checks in the security policy formulation and implementation processes.

Yet, little interest by the mainstream civil society to work on security governance or having a compromised civil society as far as putting the security system in check is concerned poses a challenge to the effort of democratising security in Kenya. This seals the opportunity for proactive public engagement in the security governance as anticipated by the constitution.

One Response to Security reforms: The case of Kenya

  1. Ndaba Nhuku April 22, 2013 at 5:57 pm #

    If Uhuru succeeds in this he will be a hero. Its will be a good model for Africa, lack of effective civil society empowered and uncorrupted checks and balances is what Africa lacks.

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