Kenyans in Disarray as President Uhuru Maintains Covid-19 Restrictions
Kenya’s June 6 Presidential speech will go down in history as one of the most awaited speeches of the year, since the entry of the Novel Coronavirus through Kenya’s airspace, and the subsequent confirmation of the first Covid-19 case on March 13.
Kenyans were looking to the President to ease the restrictions put in place to limit the spread of the Covid-19 pandemic.
These included the closure of educational institutions and restaurants, the restriction of transport movements, border controls, suspension of international flights, night curfews, intermittent lockdowns and use of face masks in public.
The measures were hurting to businesses and making life harder for ordinary people, and so when President Uhuru set out to speak on June 6, the expectations were that he would ease those restrictions, and they would once more sing songs of freedom.
But the president knew better.
“It has taken my Brain Trust Team that is made up of the finest doctors, research scientists, and public practitioners to reach the decisions,” the President begun, putting the nation on edge.
He was careful not to rub his citizens the wrong way; he knew the expectations.
“This is not about freedom or independence. It is better to be alive than have a few days of leisure and die,” he warned.
He explained that the tough decisions arrived at were guided by three different models – through monitoring trends of how the virus is spreading. He explained that all three scientific models indicated that Kenya was not prepared for reopening.
The President went on to announce that the lockdown of Nairobi, Mombasa, and Mandera would continue for the next 30 days. However, the cessation of movement in Nairobi’s Eastleigh and Mombasa’s Old Town were lifted, and though the nationwide curfew remained, it was reviewed to run from 9 pm to 4 am, giving people more productive time for the next 30 days.
President Uhuru Kenyatta failed to convince the people, despite his somewhat plausible arguments (C) PSCU
On public gathering, he announced a further 30-day ban on such but said that religious leaders and other stakeholders were working on modalities for easing the restrictions.
On the issue of reopening of schools, President Uhuru directed that the Ministry of Education consult with the Ministry of Health and other stakeholders to come up with clear guidelines.
He instructed the Ministry of Education officials to come up with guidelines to return to normalcy gradually, and progressively in the education sector by September 1, and make an announcement of the new school calendar by mid-August.
He also directed the Ministry of Transport to engage all key stakeholders within a week to develop protocols to guide the resumption of local and, air transport. He, however, extended the restrictions on international travel.
Kenyans, who had been trying to flatter the President prior to the speech using memes, took to the same social media to bash their leader, after he “broke their hearts.”
Some told the President who usually refers to Kenyans as "Fellow Kenyans" during his speeches, never to address them as such.
Others posted clips on Tik Tok, YouTube, Twitter, Facebook, and other platforms making light of the moment. Some of the clips included a man holding stones behind his back telling the President that they needed to talk to the "experts" who had advised the President, while another clip shows an inmate “writing” to his fellow inmates: “Dear inmates, we have been denied bail again.”
But President Uhuru also had kind words from some.
“It is a wise decision – otherwise, a million citizens would have been infected with the virus due to the partying that would have taken place this weekend,” tweeted one user.