In the most flagrant display of back-to-front thinking by the Kenya Kwanza government yet, the Private Security Regulatory Authority (PSRA) on 29 January 2024 unilaterally decreed that private security firms are to henceforth pay their workers the princely sum of KSh 30,000 per month minimum wage. Forget the economics surrounding this puzzling edict for the moment.
Now, it may not seem like much, but it represents a whopping 600% pay hike at the most extreme. In the meantime, GoK pays teachers Ksh18,000 and police constables Ksh19,500 in monthly salaries.
So why bother at all to sit through four years in a university (or three at a teacher training college) just to qualify to be a teacher, let alone endure the spartan stringencies of Kiganjo and the sheer vagaries of working for Kenya Police, when all one requires is a KCPE certificate and three vital skills only: run, hide, and fight, to automatically get on the fast track to a KSh 30,000 payday? Everybody knows a deal when they see one.
The country doesn’t need more teachers, it turns out; it needs more watchmen. And all praises are due to Kenya Kwanza for taking this humble and lowly most looked-down-upon profession and turning it into an aspirational destination. The answer to our ticking time bomb of youth unemployment was right under our noses the entire time!
To give weight to the urgency of the 30,000-per-month decree, PSRA supremo Fazul Mahamed framed compliance within just one week. Basically, start paying your watchmen 30,000 per month within a week or face deregistration and a ginormous fine. “Take notice that any private security company that fails to submit a duly signed and commissioned copy of the Legal Commitment within the next 7 days from the date of this directive,” reads a notice Fazul sent out on 29 January 202, “shall be subjected to a statutory review of its registration and licensing status in accordance with Section 32 of the Act.” Problem is, this ultimatum is not quite supported by any law or Act of Parliament, is it?
The Private Security Regulation Act, 2016, that Fazul quotes and bases his authority on was annulled by the National Assembly on 19 November 2019. Then Interior Cabinet Secretary, Fred Matiang’i, issued Gazette Notice No. 674 dated 29 January 2020 that stated: “It is notified for information of the general public that pursuant to section 19 of the Statutory Instruments Act, 2013, the Private Security (General) Regulation (Legal Notice no 108 of 2019, herein after referred to as the regulations) made by the Cabinet Secretary, Ministry of Interior and Coordination of National Government, in exercise of the powers conferred by section 70 of the Private Security Regulation Act, 2016, were annulled by the National assembly on the 19th of November 2019.”
Scare tactics? In all likelihood, yes. But to what end? Fazul knows that there are no legal consequences for private security firms failing to comply with his command. What, then, is his end-game? In his defence, he says that he is acting on the orders of the president. So, is William Ruto entangled in more illegalities beyond disregarding court orders? And where is Attorney General Justin Muturi in this legal morass? Why the urgency to start paying watchmen KSh 30,000 per month anyway? And all of a sudden, out of the blue? Within just one week? In an economy such as this one? Questions, questions, questions. Something smells rotten…
When it’s all said and done, the seven days of Fazul’s bizarre ultimatum lapsed on Monday 5 February 2024. To put it differently, this is the week we find out if Kenya Kwanza’s bottom-up economics are viable, sustainable even; namely, taking the Hustlers at the very bottom of the economic pyramid and catapulting them to the top, while someone else foots the bill. Isn’t that how it works?