One can be forgiven for mistaking last week’s public quarrel as the harmless flaring of tempers. It is not. The sound we heard is the whimpering sound of our dying democracy. Like 1990s guns and fiery fury, this unseemly quarrel is one more corrosive chipping of our long-standing political norms. It is just as insidious as Abu Bakr’s incursion at our Red House.
We have just emerged from very partisan and, in many ways, vile electioneering from which certain folk, powered by opportunism and the bile of social media, emerged to sit in the Senate. Instead of standing strong, leading politicians behaved like wimps in the face of bullying behaviour.
History teaches that appeasement never works with bullies. The quarrel played into the script of social and economic inequality that threatens our nation’s foundation.
Words are to be taken seriously since they are usually followed by action. When we applaud the norm-breaker, it gives rise to others, and what is acceptable deteriorates into deep partisan extremism. This is as dangerous as Covid-19.
Roy Joseph Housing Development cannot be compared with Bayside Towers in terms of public access. The former are communal blocks of flats that allow access to the public through well-established “short-cuts”. Several of the young residents and the police know each other well.
At Bayside Towers, there are two distinct physical components of the land and buildings. The first is the individual unit, which is for the exclusive use of the owner. All the structural walls, the corridors, ceilings, floors and the swimming pool belong to a separate entity owned collectively by all the unit owners. This entity is responsible for the management and maintenance of the common areas.
Should an owner want to host a party at the pool, he has to apply for permission; it is not his right. He cannot change the colour of the wall outside of his unit. To enforce those rights, the entity hires both a property manager and facility officers.
Residential complexes are high-density (it is reported that Bayside has close to 200 units) and house residents who are high-risk relative to Covid-19.
It is disingenuous to suggest that “some residents” called the police.
The property manager or the facility officers would be the ones calling. They would call for help to enforce their rights the same way a homeowner would call in dealing with an intruder. The authorised agent of the common property owner is the property manager.
In the absence of specific health regulations, this property manager can implement requirements for the common areas in order to protect the health, safety and well-being of all people using the compound. Under OSHA, they also have the responsibility to ensure the property is reasonably safe.
In this instance, this property manager was proactive and had issued a note on September 1, incorporating Legal Notice No 206 of 2020. The offending residents did not have permission to hold the pool party. The police came to the property twice. These facts could have been established by the relevant authorities.
It is disheartening to witness the ministers prevaricate. This is what gives rise to bullies who seek to dominate public discourse.
The sad part is that, as a Kenyan proverb says, “when the elephants fight, it is the grass that suffers”.