Kenyan unions warn civil servants to leave amid ‘danger’ of attacks

Thousands of Kenyan civil servants were urged on Tuesday to leave troubled regions hit by a wave of insurgent attacks, as protesters in the capital demanded greater security.

The warnings by six unions to members to leave the restive north-east, as well as the protests in Nairobi, follow a weekend attack which saw 28 non-Muslims executed on a bus.

The executions near the northeastern town of Mandera, whose victims included 24 teachers and three medics, were claimed by Somalia’s al-Qaeda-affiliated al-Shabab militant group.

Unions representing more than 25 000 doctors, dentists, civil servants and primary and secondary school teachers have advised members to leave the region until security forces can ensure their safety.

“Their lives are clearly in danger,” Kenyan teachers union leader, Wilson Sossion, told media. “We have already lost enough members of the teaching force and can’t risk any further.”

The call by unions to leave areas, including the main towns of Garissa, Wajir and Mandera, affects more than 1 000 teachers and 16 500 civil servants.

In Nairobi, more than 100 protesters marched through the city centre, chanting slogans demanding that police “stop the killings”, before sitting down outside the main government office complex.

Others waved wooden crosses to represent those killed in a string of attacks, amid chants calling for the resignation of the police chief and interior minister.

‘No job worth dying for’
Many wore tops with a slogan “Tumechoka” (“we are tired” in Swahili), and a message reading: “Mr President, we need your action on security.”

“This government has failed to manage security, people are being killed everywhere and we don’t see action,” activist Boniface Mwangi said.

Security forces kept a close watch on the protesters but allowed them to demonstrate.

Kenya has suffered a series of attacks since invading Somalia in 2011 to strike al-Shabab, later joining an African Union force battling the Islamists.

The Shehab said the bus attack was carried out in revenge for police raids on mosques in Kenya’s key port of Mombasa.

Professionals working in the largely Muslim and ethnic Somali northeastern regions often come from further south in Kenya, where Christians make up about 80% of the population.

Many are angry at what they see as government inaction, with the protest taking place close to Parliament, where lawmakers are set to meet on Tuesday to debate how best to tackle the security situation.

But, in an editorial, the country’s Daily Nation newspaper said that the government’s repeated assurances of safety which follow each attack “are beginning to sound like a stuck record”.

“People are hurting. People are wounded. People are angry, scarred and scared, and tired of living in a state of terror,” it said.

“The buck stops with the president and, therefore, it is he who must take decisive action to restore peace, security and safety for all in Kenya.”

But newspapers also warned that the unions’ call to leave would damage the region, with one newspaper saying it feared a “mass exodus” of civil servants, although also accepting that “no job is worth dying for”. – AFP

PW Botha wagged his finger and banned us in 1988 but we stood firm. We built a reputation for fearless journalism, then, and now. Through these last 35 years, the Mail & Guardian has always been on the right side of history.

These days, we are on the trail of the merry band of corporates and politicians robbing South Africa of its own potential.

To help us ensure another 35 future years of fiercely independent journalism, please subscribe.

Peter Martell 1
Guest Author

South Africa has been junked

Treasury says the credit ratings downgrade “could not have come at a worse time”, as country enters a 21-day Covid-19 lockdown with little money saved up

Mail & Guardian needs your help

Our job is to help give you the information we all need to participate in building this country, while holding those in power to account. But now the power to help us keep doing that is in your hands

Press Releases

The online value of executive education in a Covid-19 world

Executive education courses further develop the skills of leaders in the workplace

Sisa Ntshona urges everyone to stay home, and consider travelling later

Sisa Ntshona has urged everyone to limit their movements in line with government’s request

SAB Zenzele’s special AGM postponed until further notice

An arrangement has been announced for shareholders and retailers to receive a 77.5% cash payout

20th Edition of the National Teaching Awards

Teachers are seldom recognised but they are indispensable to the country's education system

Awards affirm the vital work that teachers do

Government is committed to empowering South Africa’s teachers with skills, knowledge and techniques for a changing world

SAB Zenzele special AGM rescheduled to March 25 2020

New voting arrangements are being made to safeguard the health of shareholders

Dimension Data launches Saturday School in PE

The Gauteng Saturday School has produced a number of success stories