Is Kagwe Guilty of Misleading Kenyans?

  • Health Cabinet Secretary Mutahi Kagwe speaking during a presser outside Kenyatta National Hospital, April 2020.
    Health Cabinet Secretary Mutahi Kagwe speaking during a presser outside Kenyatta National Hospital, April 2020.
    File
  • Kenya's Covid-19 cases crossed the 500 mark on Tuesday, May 5, when 535 cases were confirmed. However, the discussion of the day was centred around Kenyans flouting measures set up by the government upon the reopening of restaurants.

    Health CS Mutahi, Kagwe, argued that the reopening of eateries was the right thing to do, but he would not hesitate to shut them down again.

    "World over, those who have delayed making the appropriate interventions against Covid-19 have paid a heavy price. Those who have taken for granted the simple demands within measures set.

    Health CS Mutahi Kagwe (left) Government Spokesman Cyrus Oguna (second left) and Director General of Health Patrick Amoth (centre) addresses the media at Afya House, Nairobi on Tuesday, May 5, 2020
    Health CS Mutahi Kagwe (left) Government Spokesman Cyrus Oguna (second left) and Director General of Health Patrick Amoth (centre) addresses the media at Afya House, Nairobi on Tuesday, May 5, 2020
    File

    “As to whether we will roll back and close them again is a measure that is always on the table. There is nothing that is not on the table. But we are trying as much as we can to ensure that that is not what we do. And it is true that it has been abused, it’s a fact that people have been going to pubs, or to eateries, they order one sausage with two beers, anakula hiyo sausage moja na beer mbili," Kagwe lamented.

    Analysts thereafter wondered whether indeed it was right for the government to reopen businesses while lamenting on how Kenyans were reckless. Who would be blamed at last, Kenyans or the government?

    "The government is acting naively and it ought to get better services of a communication expert. When you are telling people to open restaurants, it's equal to telling them that things are back to normal. Kenyans interpret and they learn faster from what they see and do, and not what they hear.

    "Even as Kagwe is refuting that things are normal, Education CS George Magoha is assuring parents that schools may reopen in June and the second term holidays will be shortened," University of Nairobi don and political analyst Herman Manyora stated.

    Patrick Oyaro, a Public Health Officer and Chief Executive Officer of Health Innovations, Kisumu, differed with Manyora and stated that it was not the right time to lash out at the government, as it was still trying to process and ascertain how the crisis would be best approached.

    Oyaro, stated that the government was trying to balance between saving livelihoods and curbing the spread of Covid-19, which was a difficult thing to do.

    "I believe the decision by the CS was not solely his own, but joint discussion with other dockets. Statistics indicate that only a small number die from Covid-19, so the government is trying best to handle morbidity and mortality. Opening restaurants is an acceptable decision but measures have to be strictly adhered to.

    "But if Kenyans are reckless, why do it in the first place if you do not have mechanisms for controlling how they operate. Anyway, restaurants in slums never shut down and the high-end ones that have opened do not have customers. They will shut down on their own," the medic stated while speaking with Kenyans.co.ke. 

    According to Oyaro, a post-mortem on the government's decision would, later on, reveal what they did right or wrong but making a decision today and changing it later did not guarantee failure.

    "It would be better to reopen restaurants 6 months after this epidemic broke out. Unless Kenya is trying to replicate models in Sweden and Tanzania. But if the cases rise, they will have to recommend more solutions like home-based care and lockdown of hotspots such as Eastleigh," Oyaro added.

    Nicholas Gachara, a financial expert at Tax and Accounting, added that closure of businesses after reopening them would not be wise.

    "The eateries should stick to take away so as to maintain operations. It would be better to deal with joblessness rather than an escalated health crisis," he advised. 

    Video: Citizen TV