Legislators, police weakest link in Corona fight, says poll

Monday, June 8th, 2020 00:00 | By
A medic takes a sample from a suspected corona patient in Kawangware. Photo/PD/John Ochieng

Members of Parliament, county governments and the police have been ranked as the weakest link among key stakeholders in the fight against the coronavirus pandemic.

A survey released yesterday shows Kenyans appreciate the work being done by frontline teams after they ranked health workers and the Ministry of Health as the best performers.

It also emerged that majority of Kenyans want the curfew imposed by President Uhuru Kenyatta three months ago to stay in force until the Covid-19 situation normalises.

In the survey, Uhuru’s approval ratings over the pandemic have improved significantly, perhaps because of his decision to take personal charge of the fight as well as his clarity, empathy and transparency in the government approach.

Infotrak Research and Consulting Diretor Angela Ambitho said the new survey shows that more than half of Kenyans, at 57 per cent, want the curfew that ran from 7pm to 5am until yesterday to remain in force until the coronavirus situation is deemed manageable.

Cessation of movement

On Saturday, the President reviewed the curfew hours from 9pm till 4am effective yesterday.

“A third of Kenyans said the curfew should be done away with completely so that people can move freely while another 12 per cent said the curfew should be relaxed and imposed for shorter duration,” said Ambitho, when she released the survey findings in Nairobi.

Ambitho said 62 per cent of Kenyans were confident with the manner in which the President has handled the coronavirus situation.

“Compared to the first wave of the survey conducted in April, the overall performance of the President in dealing with coronavirus moved from 59 per cent to 62 per cent,” said Ambitho.

Among the measures the President has taken is ordering cessation of movement in areas where big numbers of infections have been reported, setting aside special funds to cushion vulnerable groups such as the elderly, imposing a countrywide dusk-to-dawn curfew, closing schools, banning all forms of gatherings as well as banning international flights into Kenya.

The President was ranked fourth after the media which was third with 66 per cent approval.

Parliament, comprising the National Assembly and the Senate, was ranked last with 19 per cent approval while the Judiciary (21 per cent), county governments (28 per cent) and the police at 34 per cent occupied the other bottom spaces.

Members of Parliament have been accused of delay in passing laws to steer President Kenyatta’s stimulus package to cushion the vulnerable and small businesses. 

Moreover, the legislators stand accused of violating protocols on social distancing by addressing public gatherings in their constituencies or homes.

At least 77 per cent of Kenyans rated health workers as the best performers in dealing with the coronavirus pandemic, having been in the frontline.

So far, Kenya has recorded over 700 coronavirus recoveries with the healthcare workers having significantly contributed to this achievement.

Second on the list is the Ministry of Health, with 67 per cent of Kenyans applauding the Mutahi Kagwe-led docket that has been the principal coordinator of the fight. 

“Compared to April, the Ministry of Health has moved from 61 per cent to 67 per cent in May, an indication that Kenyans appreciate the work it is doing,” said Ambitho.

Since the first case of the coronavirus was reported in the country in March, the ministry has been issuing daily updates on the status of the disease, while insisting on the need to fully observe measures to avoid spread of the virus.

The third stakeholder recognised by Kenyans was the media at 66 per cent followed by the President at 62 per cent.

Journalists have been at the front updating Kenyans on the pandemic at the risk of exposure amidst painful pay cuts.

Religious organisations were ranked fifth at 42 per cent followed by the Ministry of Interior at number six, the private sector, and the Government Spokesman at number eight.

Since the ban on gatherings, including in places of worship, was issued, religious organisations have resorted to virtual services to reach out to as many Kenyans as possible.

 At least 34 per cent of Kenyans said Government spokesperson, Col Cyrus Oguna has been key in dealing with the disease. 

Oguna is a member of the National Emergency Team and coordinates smooth government communication about the country’s status as far as the pandemic is concerned.

Monetary support

The poor ranking of the Police department comes as no surprise. There has been a public outcry over the manner in which law enforcement officers have conducted themselves in some instances and they have been accused of brutality while imposing the curfew.

Some officers have also been accused of turning roadblocks into extorting stations while some policemen have been arrested for violating health protocols by engaging in drinking sprees by locking themselves in pubs.

Last week, the Independent Policing Oversight Authority (IPOA) said six police officers will be arrested and charged with various serious offences including deaths and assault.

For instance, IPOA said a police officer, Duncan Ndiema Ndiwa, will be charged with the murder of 13-year-old Yassin Hussein Moyo who was shot at the balcony of his parent’s home in Kiamaiko, Nairobi, on March 30.

On the other hand, counties which have been receiving monetary support from the Government but with little to show in response mechanisms have been scored dismally.

At the weekend, the President cited Siaya as one of the counties not well prepared to fight the disease with  a bed isolation facility of 10. Busia County has 34 isolation beds and two days ago, it was full.

“If there is a surge in infections in these two counties, the health care system will be overwhelmed.

The hard question to pose here, therefore, is whether Kenyans are prepared to nurse coronavirus patients in their homes if our health care system cannot handle the numbers,” said the President on Saturday.

However, Mombasa and Machakos are some of the counties that have stepped up their efforts in the battle.

The Infotrak survey was conducted between May 28 and June 2 with a sample size of 1,203 respondents interviewed through Computer Assisted Telephone Interviews (CATI). Twenty four of the country’s 47 counties took part in the survey.

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