Kenya: Stop the Superspreader Political Gatherings

For the umpteenth time, we're compelled to revisit the matter of intensified political campaigns amid the Covid-19 devastation. In the past few days, the main political players have traversed the country mobilising and organising their teams for next year's presidential contest. Yet, on paper, political gatherings are prohibited.

Over the past few days, ODM Party Leader Raila Odinga and Deputy President William Ruto, who is linked to the United Democratic Alliance (UDA), pitched camp in the coastal region, where they held a series of grand meetings to woo voters. President Kenyatta is in the region on official visit but which has all the markings of political campaigns.

Similarly, Amani National Congress Party Leader Musalia Mudavadi was camping in Mount Kenya region pushing his presidential bid. Other leaders have held meetings elsewhere.

For several weeks, Jubilee and UDA were engrossed in high-profile campaigns for the recent by-elections in Kiambu County. The campaigns attracted large crowds with supporters mingling freely without observing social distance.

Just a month ago, President Kenyatta and Mr Odinga presided over a series of meetings in Kisumu and environs that drew large crowds. That created a conducive environment for the spread of the coronavirus. Not surprisingly, Nyanza and western Kenya regions have become the new epicentres of coronavirus infections and, worse, the deadly Delta variant.

It won't surprise if Kiambu and Nairobi counties become the next epicentres of infections following the recent campaigns.

The political leaders are messing up and have to be called out. They have become the weakest link in the war against the virus. They engage in campaigns and violate Covid-19 safety regulations without shame while other citizens struggle to conform. And it's the ordinary people who suffer most when infected because they cannot access proper medical care.

We have to repeat this: Politicians should follow the rules and desist from campaigns at this time. They cannot carry on with reckless pursuits that threaten Kenyans' safety and well-being.

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