State House, Nairobi, Kenya
President’s Advisory Committee meeting
7:30 a.m. Monday 13th February, 2012
“Mr President, this is not good for the presidency. The people expect you to do something. What the TVs are saying portrays weak, teetering and wobbling governance. Project Prevention may look as though it was mandated to do what they are doing by your office, sir.” Chief of Staff, tough lady.
“It is a violation of the constitution. It should be your office’s main agenda to see that the constitution is followed.” Senior Political Advisor, no ass kisser.
“The Constitution of Kenya (CoK) 2010, states in Article 43. 1(a) that ‘Every person has the right to the highest attainable standards of health, which include the right to health care services, including reproductive health care’. Article 29 (d) states ‘Every person has a right…not to be subjected to torture in any manner, whether physical or psychological’.” Senior Constitutional and Legislative advisor, the mouth that keeps things in check.
“Project Prevention was not to go to that level. It has outlived its stay here. It has to go otherwise your opponents, sir, will come on you guns blazing claiming imperialism by the West in your government…” Senior Political Advisor.
“Rumours have been there about Project Prevention in Kenya. It was spectacular how the government responded, but now it’s getting too far. It’s just a matter of time before those women start talking.” Director of Public Communications, the fox.
“Actually, they have talked. I had to call in a few favours for CTN TV not to air the exposé to buy us some time. We need to do damage control because that investigative piece is still out there.” Director of Press, the Director of Bullshit in the corridors of power.
“NGOs, human rights activists, psycho-social support groups and the whole horde of human watch are waking from their slumber. They will be gearing for the jugular. It is the government’s responsibility to protect its citizens. Well, you know that, but the implication is your government is not protecting its citizens…” Director of Public Health and national wellbeing.
“Ahem…” the President cleared his throat. “Is that all what you had today?”
“No, Mr President,” the Chief of Staff said.
“Then go to the next item on the agenda!”
“But Mr President…”
“No buts, Meisha. I have heard you. I know what it means. I have a country to run, may we move on?”
“I don’t understand, sir…”
Silence descended in the room like a ghost. Looks were exchanged. No one, no one, had the balls to challenge the president like that. The Chief of Staff was really testing waters.
The President riveted his stare on his Chief of Staff but she was not relenting. What did she know the others didn’t? Well, nothing.
“Well, I get it,” the President said. “You are afraid, for me. The elections are in the offing. I am not going to run for another term. So, stop being Mother Theresa and let’s move on.”
That stung. A knife sliced somewhere. The President came short of using the ‘B’ word. The Chief of Staff took her time before she looked at her Samsung Galaxy tablet. When she opened her mouth to speak it was not her words that came out but the president’s.
“OK, I know you want to know. Let’s cut to the chase. I sanctioned Project Prevention. I don’t care what you think, but my decision is final.
“To take this country where it should be. To realize Vision2030 everybody talks about. To rid the country of the scourge of HIV/Aids. To reduce taxes. To stop dependence of donor funding to keep more than 200,000 people on antiretroviral (ARV) treatment. To help alleviate misery and suffering. To do what Mother Nature would do under natural conditions, but more humanely. Sterilization of the Women Living with HIV (WLHIV) is not a punitive measure. It is strictly protective.
“I don’t like those eyebrows I see rising, so suck it up,” the president said when what he was saying homed in on his advisors. “I am the one who authorised Project Prevention to work in Kenya. WLHIV are an expense to the state and counties both in their lifetime and death because they leave behind sick mouths to feed, clothe and take care of, on taxpayer’s dime.
“Those are just 200,000 people. I have over forty million to think of. The rights of an individual cannot be fully safeguarded when he is being compelled to support, physically and emotionally, in the midst of his community the sick, the dying, and the burdensome.
“This is the first step in dealing with the scourge of HIV/Aids in this country. Sterilization, legislation, laws preventing the fertile HIV/Aids infected from marrying – do I need to go on? – would be the way to go…”
The President of the Republic of Kenya took his legendary pause as though to let what he had said sink in before hammering the first nail in. “I have instructed the Cabinet Secretary for Medical Services to ensure that all HIV positive patients, both male and female, are detained…”
The president’s advisors did a double take. Was the president high on something or had he gone crazy? That was before all hell broke loose…
Everybody was shouting at the president that they were quitting.