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Debate over saving of lives or livelihoods rages in Kenya amid third wave

File picture: Reuters/Thomas Mukoya

File picture: Reuters/Thomas Mukoya

Published Apr 2, 2021


Cape Town - The debate over saving lives or saving livelihoods borne out of Kenyan Covid-19 lockdown policies rages on as lobbyists criticise the government’s new restrictions amid the country’s third wave.

A lobby group based in Kenya’s capital Nairobi, Bunge la Mwananchi, has given President Uhuru Kenyatta until Saturday to reverse newly implemented Covid-19 restrictions which they have labelled as unfair, digital news platform Tuko reported.

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The East African country is experiencing its third wave of Covid-19. Its highest recorded confirmed cases in one day – 2 008 – occurred on March 27, World Health Organization (WHO) statistics revealed.

Kenya’s first wave occurred between July and August 2020 and the second wave between October and November 2020.

As of March 31, a total of 132 646 confirmed cases have been recorded, coupled with 2 147 deaths. The WHO further stated that 9 144 vaccine doses have been administered as of March 25.

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Five counties, namely Nairobi, Kajiado, Kiambu, Machakos and Nakuru, have been identified as “disease-infested zones”, the BBC reported on March 26.

Kenyatta has responded to the third wave by enforcing multiple restrictions that the country has seen before.

A curfew between 8pm and 4am became effective in these five counties as of midnight after Kenyatta’s announcement on March 26, and between 10pm and 4am for the rest of the country, Citizen TV Kenya reported.

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Domestic travel to and from the five identified counties has been banned, as have alcohol sales, and restaurants are only permitted to provide a takeaway service, according to the BBC.

However, Bunge la Mwananchi has argued that the new restrictions are affecting the vulnerable more than the affluent, Tuko reported.

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“The president thinks that everyone is rich in the country. The new restrictions are so saddening. He has closed bars and restaurants; where will the waiters and waitresses go?

’’How essential is the curfew? The virus spreads with or without curfew. We ask him to lift the curfew in three days,” Bunge la Mwananchi said.

The lobby group has further called out Kenyatta for alleged double standards as ordinary citizens face the full might of the law for transgressing Covid-19 restrictions while the elite flout them without consequence.

Kenya grabbed headlines the world over last year for the manner in which its police officers enforced the country’s Covid-19 restrictions, often resulting in civilian casualties.

Pentecostal Evangelistic Fellowship of Africa (PEFA) has also called on Kenyatta to review the restrictions, highlighting the inconsistencies of his approach, according to Tuko.

“Mr President, let me put it to you plainly. It is these careless actions by you, the politicians, that have made the rallies to become the super-spreaders of this virus, and this can be found by the number of politicians who have contracted the virus,” Bishop Peter Ambuka of PEFA said last Sunday, according to Nation.

“Mr President, you and your fellow politicians are to blame for this devastating third wave and the buck stops with you,” he added.

Ambuka further blasted Kenyatta for not acknowledging the “suffering” resulting from the Covid-19 restrictions.

African News Agency (ANA)