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The 6 Billion Shillings Motive Behind Security Guard’s Salary Ultimatum



By Boniface Mwangi

The road to hell is paved with good intentions. The government through the Private Security Regulatory Authority (PSRA), under the stewardship of its boss Fazul Mohammed, has whether by error or by design, prepared a snare calculated to shake down security companies for billions of shillings at the risk of being deregistered.

The regulator issued an ultimatum to the more than 2,000 security companies to commit to a pay rise for their 700,000 employees, or face deregistration and stiff fines. The security companies, Fazul has decreed, have a week to submit a duly signed commitment letter that they will pay their guards a minimum salary of Ksh 30,000.

“Any private security company that fails to submit a duly signed copy of the Legal Commitment within the next 7 days shall be subjected to a statutory review of its registration and licensing status including cancellation of its registration license”, reads a notice sent by Fazul, dated January 29, 2024.

In April 2022, a directive was sent to all security companies to register with the Private Security Regulatory Authority, failure to which they would be deregistered. Sources indicate that security companies gave between Ksh3 million to Ksh10 million as appeasement to someone. The registration was a trap, and then a shakedown for bribes.

Every government institution has its own unique logo that it uses in official documents, but the Fazul Mahammed-led Private Security Regulatory Authority has adopted the national government logo to send threatening messages to security companies. This is an intimidation tactic to enforce compliance, and it has nothing to do with security and safety. The coat of arms, and the bold inscription, Office of the President, Ministry of Interior and National Administration, scream from the top of the letterhead with the ominous ultimatum. This is not how the regulator’s home page appears on the government’s eCitizen platform, where the coat of arms is denoted by a green circle ringed with the words “Private Security” and a red keyhole in the middle fenced by the letters P and S in black.

On the face of it, the Ksh30,000 salary sounds like sweet music to the guards, who toil under very harsh conditions, risking life and limb to safeguard the lives and property of their clients. Security guards act as a substitute for the police, who are legally bound to protect life and property, but since they’ve failed in their duty, taxpayers are compelled to hire private security to guard their homes, open the gates to their offices, frisk clients, and act as the first line of defense in almost every space we occupy.

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Security guards deserve better pay, especially under this ruinous government, but this new demand is currently neither practical nor possible. The Government of Kenya pays a teacher Ksh18,000 and a police constable Ksh23,000. There’s a reason for this low pay and while it’s unfair and should be fixed, the prevailing economic circumstances militate against this. To achieve this objective, we must do better across the board.

The Ksh30,000 salary for a guard would be great but very few companies can afford to pay this at a time when a majority of them have been forced to downgrade, lay off staff and, in some extreme cases, close shop due to the weakening shilling and a multitude of taxes that have increased the cost of doing business. For these new salaries to be effected, security companies would be forced to load these added costs onto their clients, majority of whom may opt out of these services, leading to canceled contracts and loss of jobs. And imagine walking into a mall or a supermarket or a bar today, where the first line of defense is not a human being who is visible, in uniform, and paid to make sure we are safe.

The ultimatum is a crafty way by some government employees to collect billions of shillings in bribes within the span of a week. The creation of a regulation and demand for its compliance within a short period of time, and the accompanying threat to be deregistered for non-compliance, is calculated to create panic and line the pockets of the few to the detriment of the many. The regulation is not based on any law or act of parliament.

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This creates a back door where those who should comply can pay “za macho” directly. The money is never remitted to the government and the recipients end up raking in billions. The agents and their masters make their money, the regulation is withdrawn or postponed, and the people are none the wiser.

Fazul knows that. But he says he is acting on the orders of President William Ruto, which makes some sense given how out of touch the government is with its own people, and why they do what they do.

No security company will be able to implement the salary directive within seven days. The solution is that security companies are being told to prepare between Ksh2 million and Ksh10 million, depending on the size of the company, to give to the “right” offices so that this directive is withdrawn. A modest estimate of each company giving Ksh3 million in cash to individuals shows that the well-connected ‘officials’ will receive Ksh6 billion in cash in early February.

That’s how Kenya works.

Fazul has said anyone who hires or engages the services of any private security service provider and pays them below the minimum wage can be fined or jailed. The fine is Ksh2 million, and this explains why the minimum bribe has been set at Ksh3 million to stay this order.

Fazul is just doing the bidding of his political masters. When he was the Executive Director of Kenya’s Non-Governmental Organizations, he terrorized NGOs. His academic qualifications, and suitability to head the NGO Coordination Board, were questioned by petitioners who argued he wasn’t qualified because he did not finish college.

They stated he was discontinued from Egerton University for failing to score 50 percent or more of all the credit factors taken in the ordinary exams of one academic year.

Fazul has a powerful godfather and when he resigned from the NGO board, he claimed he left Ksh2.4 billion in Central Bank belonging to NGOs frozen to the core.

One wonders, is their target now the multi-billion-shilling security sector, and are some of the supposed regulations meant to fleece security companies that have invested millions to set up facilities to train their guards, and will now be required to register their schools and have them approved by Fazul before they can train their own guards? If your facilities fail to meet his standards, you will have to train your guards in Fazul-approved security training schools.

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Fazul has a pattern. He fought NGOS that promoted good governance, human rights, and civic education. The crackdown of NGOs in the run up to the 2017 general elections is the cause of Kenya’s choice of poor leaders. The lack of voter education had a direct correlation to the leaders who were elected, and that is why Matiang’i famously warned that dubious characters who had made money in fraudulent rackets would flood Parliament.
Interestingly, the Private Security Regulation Act, 2016, that Fazul is quoting and basing his authority on, was annulled by the National Assembly on the 19th November 2019. The then Cabinet Secretary for Interior and Co-ordination of National Government, Fred Matiang’i, issued Gazette Notice No. 674 dated 29th January 2020 that stated thus:

“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 November 2019.”

The constitution is clear regarding how the government should go about engaging established businesses to prevent hurting the careful balance of a free market, but Fazul and his masters don’t care.

The writer is a human rights activist and a whistleblower.

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