Narc Kenya Party Leader Martha Karua has blamed President Uhuru Kenyatta for contributing to the increase in infections in the third wave of the Covid-19 pandemic.
Addressing a press conference on Monday, March 29, Karua said that when infection rates slowed late last year, President Kenyatta and his handshake partner, Orange Democratic Movement (ODM) leader Raila Odinga, restarted their Building Bridges Initiative (BBI) campaigns to change the constitution, which attracted huge crowds.
Deputy President William Ruto, whose support for the BBI document has been lukewarm, also held massive rallies.
The One Kenya Alliance of Amani National Congress (ANC) leader Musalia Mudavadi, Kanu’s Gideon Moi, his Wiper Democratic Movement counterpart Kalonzo Musyoka, and Ford Kenya’s Moses Wetang’ula as they campaigned for their candidates in Kabuchai, Matungu and Machakos mini polls also threw their guard out of the window.
The BBI campaigns and by-election rallies, Karua contends, were “super-spreader events that led to the rise in Covid-19 numbers countrywide.
“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,” she told journalists at the party headquarters on Monday.
Karua also wondered why one year down the line the government has not brought to book those involved in looting funds set aside to fight the pandemic, popularly referred to as COVID billionaires.
She asked the President to personally take charge and make sure the culprits are dealt with.
In August 2020, Uhuru gave government investigative agencies 21 days to expedite investigations into the alleged theft of funds at Kenya Medical Supplies Agency (Kemsa).
“This has failed and we are reminding him for the umpteenth time that 21 days are over. We have another covid wave, there is work undone and your government has not caused the arrest and prosecution of the culprits,” she said.
She added: “They 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.”
What should be done
Karua said the second ‘lockdown’ provides the COVID millionaires and billionaires with more opportunities to continue looting, unless and until action is taken.
“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,” she said, adding that the mere announcement of the lockdown signals a new set of automatic job losses in many sectors that the it will directly and indirectly affect.
She said that 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.
Unlike lockdown measures announced in early 2020, which came with tax reliefs and other economic incentives, the President did not announce any reprieves in his Friday address.
“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,” Karua said.
To cushion the impact of the response to the new wave of covid-19, Karua’s party proposed a raft of measures, including that the government immediately takes up the costs of testing and treatment of COVID-19 in government facilities countrywide.
“We demand that the government intensifies testing and vaccinations in the areas designated as Disease-Infected Zones to ensure a return to normalcy at the earliest moment possible,” she said.
Lastly, the party wants the government to consult with businesses and Kenyans on the way forward in order to bridge the gap between policy pronouncements and people’s needs.