Kenya: Should Matiang'i Have Queued? Kenyans React

19 February 2020

The Employment and Labour Relations Court in Nyeri recently dismissed a case filed by a female security guard who had sued her former employer, the Kenya Airports Authority (KAA), for sacking her on claims of mistreating then Education Cabinet Secretary Fred Matiang'i at the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport in 2017.

Justice Nzioki wa Makau dismissed Ms Daizy Cherogony's case, saying the improper handling of Dr Matiang'i was sufficient grounds for KAA to initiate disciplinary action against her.

The case has elicited strong reactions from Kenyans, with many drawing parallels between the outcome of the matter and a similar incident involving former Deputy Chief Justice Nancy Baraza in 2011.

Ms Baraza found herself in hot soup after allegations that she assaulted a security guard, Rebecca Kerubo, at the Village Market shopping mall in Nairobi.

In the latter case, the security guard was vindicated after a 2012 judiciary tribunal formed by former President Mwai Kibaki to try Ms Baraza - who by then had been suspended by the Head of State - recommended that she should be sacked over the incident.

These events led to her subsequent resignation as Deputy Chief Justice after less than a year in office.

In a tweet, ex-Kakamega County Senator Boni Khalwale said: "Former D/Chief Justice, Nancy Baraza was dismissed by force of the Constitution for refusing to submit to an order by a security guard. Alas, a security guard has lost her job (still under the same Constitution) for correctly demanding of C/S Matiang'i to observe order! Impunity!"

Activist Boniface Mwangi also condemned Ms Cherogony's sacking by KAA.

"I travel a lot. I normally meet Cabinet Secretaries, MPs, Senators and even Governors queuing in foreign countries airports. They are disciplined in other countries. It's such a shame that a security officer was sacked for asking @FredMatiangi to queue."

He also shared his previous tweet that said, "Remember Nancy Baraza lost her job for pinching somebody's nose, if this Cabinet Minister was a woman, men would be screaming murder. So wrong."

Others wondered what the law said of such cases and why the outcomes of the two situations were so different.

"Which law did they use on Nancy Baraza and which one are they using on Matiang'i case.. so in Kenya it's not only a crime to be poor but also to be poor and do your duty as expected," Twitter user @patrickmwema001 said.

Conversely, lawyer Donald Kipkorir defended the guard's dismissal by KAA, saying that no security minister ever has to queue.

"Before Bill Gates or Barack Obama queue in a restaurant, elaborate security is put in place a month in advance. Mark Zuckerberg came to Kenya & ate at Mama Oliech & Kenyans went up in excitement. All these are pure PR antics ... You can't compare them to our Security Minister," read part of his tweet.

"...No Minister of security of any country in the world stands in a queue ... Kenyans must leave Fred Matiang'i alone," he added.

Facebook user James Mwangi also felt that the CS should not have been forced to queue, laying the blame squarely on the security guard.

"When this guard told Matiang'i to queue what did she really want to show??? I support her fate! She wanted to show what? Her personality and ego has led her losing her job...She was long replaced with another employee. Apambane na hali yake," he said.

The reactions to the Nation story by readers also pointed out the power disparity between top State officials and regular Kenyans who handle them in the course of their duties.

"In conclusion, Ms Daizy Cherogony's case was dismissed because she dared to do what is right by treating a politician as a person in a country where politicians don't do people things like queue, drive on the right side of the road or respect laws, etc" social activist Scheaffer Okore said.

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