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Following the public health prevention and protection measures against the spread of the Corona Virus (Covid-19) that the Government announced on 15th March 2020, the Secretary General of the Communist Party of Kenya (CPK) suspended major Party affairs including the sub-county and study circle meetings across the Country for the recommended 14 days.

During pandemics and crisis of such magnitude, it is the working class and masses that suffer the most. This suffering is not accidental; it is because the capitalist system is designed that way.

The CPK recognises the ongoing efforts by the Government to arrest the spread of infection of the Virus, and in particular commends the actions of the healthcare workers who in spite of the possible risks, are determined to ensure that they play their role to mitigate the risks to the masses. The CPK welcomes the Government’s warning to business people that they should not take advantage of the current situation to make more profits by increasing the prices of basic commodities. Indeed, the Competition Authority of Kenya and other Government agencies have already taken punitive and criminal action against some of these profiteers.

However, a lot needs to be done, both in the short term and in the long run. The short term measures must include:

1.      Proper sensitisation of the masses on the prevention and detection of Corona Virus. A majority of Kenyans are still not aware of what they can do to minimise the risk of being infected with the Virus. Many more do not know what the symptoms of the Virus are, beyond the normal coughing. The Government should launch a major campaign, similar to the campaigns that they carry out when asking Kenyans to register for elections, to register for the hopeless Huduma Number or to vote for particular candidates in elections. Radio for example, especially the Kiswahili and the vernacular stations should be compelled to participate in this campaign as a National duty. The ongoing SMS campaign should be made in Kiswahili which is the national language. The private media should also be controlled, so that they report actual infections and not mere suspected cases. Their sensational reportage for the sake of traffic and profits only ends up causing unnecessary and dangerous panic.

 

2.      Workers should be protected from profit-obsessed bosses and their organisations. The government must give strict orders to employers to ensure that their workers get full pay during this uncertain period. Workers should also be protected from any threats of suspension or termination from their jobs. The current position against hiking the prices of consumer goods should continue.        

3.      The distinction between private hospitals and the public hospitals must be eliminated. Any person within Kenyan borders should be able to receive treatment at the nearest hospital to them, without being threatened with costs.

 

4.      Insurance Companies should be put on notice. The speculation going round that health insurance companies will not cover Covid-19 treatment should be combated, and any insurance company that attempts not to pay must face extreme punitive measures. This is not a period to protect profits and cause panic among Kenyans.           

5.      The Government should ensure uninterrupted water supply especially in the cities, and it should take up the responsibility of ensuring that public service transportation, public eateries and all public places meet the required standards of sanitation. The Government must now crack on the water distribution cartels. It is a well-known fact that these cartels work with rogue County officials to create artificial water shortages so that they can make illicit money. The Government should take over the distribution of water in the slums where the cost of water is much higher than the average cost in the cities.      

6.      The Police should now only arrest persons who commit serious crimes, and must desist from arresting petty and small crimes suspects. Some of the senior police officers are now taking advantage of the lockdown of the Judiciary to extort money from innocent Kenyans who are being threatened with trumped up charges. This is not only criminal and immoral, but it also counters the ongoing efforts to curb the spread of the Virus since we all know the conditions of police vehicles and police cells.  

7.      Any financial protection that the government offers must be channelled to State entities and towards the workers and the masses, and not to the private companies that make super-profits every passing year.           

 

The Corona Virus pandemic has exposed the poverty of the neo-liberal capitalist idea that the Kenyan society needs more and more of the private sector and less and less of state sector in the daily running of the economy. If our public transport system was State owned and managed, the Government of the day would have effected the public vehicle hygiene policies (to the highest standards) without having to plead with the private bus/matatu owners to do so. If the Government controlled the distribution of basic commodities in the Country, then the President would not be pleading or issuing threats to the private distributors not to increase the price of these commodities. The Government itself would have ensured that the working class and the masses continue accessing these commodities at favourable prices. Surrendering the provision of services to the private sector compromises both the implementation and standards of these services both in normal times and in times of crisis. The capitalists will always be inspired by profits and not the well-being of the people.

In the long run, Kenyans must demand for the realisation of our National Values and Principles of Governance as espoused in Article 10 of our Constitution which actually demands for socialism. Kenya needs to implement Article 43 of the Constitution to the fullest. This Article demands that every Kenyan must have decent housing; clean and safe water; adequate and nutritious food; access to the highest standards of health and healthcare; access to social security; and access to education. The Corona Virus has reminded humanity that our fate is interconnected, and that inequality is a threat to everyone.

We must learn from the small island of Cuba which has made giant strides with respect to the provision of the above mentioned socio-economic rights in spite of the economic, financial and commercial blockade that has been imposed on it for over 50 years by the World’s biggest imperialist power, the United States of America. This small island has developed its medical and biotechnological capacity to the extent that all world powers are depending on it to continue offering the Corona Virus medicine and to develop a vaccine against this and other life threatening viruses.

In the final analysis, only Socialism can save humanity from extermination by poverty, viruses, pandemics, and wars.

The Communist Party of Kenya calls on all Kenyans to rise up, join the Communist Party and work together to destroy capitalism as we participate in building a world socialist order.

 

By Booker Ngesa Omole,

Vice-Chairperson

Communist Party of Kenya

 

18th March 2020

 

 

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