I’m writing this piece as one who has suffered because of corruption and also enjoyed the ‘few associated benefits’. As they say, he who comes to equity must come with clean hands. Now onto why the war against corruption in Kenya has failed…I’d say it’s due to the politicization of the fight against graft and lack of goodwill from the citizenry. In other words, we really aren’t interested in fighting graft. Let me paint the grim picture…
Our Current State
We live in a country where the love for hypocrisy, lies and gambling reign supreme. It’s not strange in Kenya to receive lectures against corruption from the corrupt. You’d be taught on the significance of honesty by people who cheat for a living. Ours is a country, therefore, where fighting corruption is left in the hands of the corrupt.
The people who will spend hours demonizing the police service, do bribe the same police whenever they can…if not daily. The media, whose role is to truthfully inform the public, is fully political and spreads rumors that even the basest of rumor mills will reject. All that matters (to them) is shaping public opinion to suit their agenda…in most cases very selfish and on behalf of politicians.
The truth isn’t in the fact anymore; it is in the telling. And political affiliations can turn blatant lies into irrefutable facts these days. People are more interested in what their political leaders say than the truth. Counter information is rejected as falsehood.
The Star, Daily Nation, and Standard are the new authorities on matters economy and statistics. Can you imagine? The KNBS, The Treasury, The World Bank, IMF, Financial Times and Bloomberg are not to be trusted anymore. A politically correct blogger’s word on Eurobond is trusted over CS Rotich’s on the same.
It’s not once that we’ve witness the EACC commissioners resign because they are corrupt. Have you not heard instances of graft at ODPP, DCI and the Judiciary? More often than not, the country is more concerned with fixing political enemies than finding the truth and ending graft once for all. To them getting enough evidence to prosecute the corrupt is not important…sending political rivals home (only to be cleared of all wrong doings) is the goal.
With such a goal, the fight against corruption in Kenya has failed and will always fail. Here are just but a few examples to demonstrate my point:
1. Goldenberg Scandal
Hundreds of billions stolen, suspects were arraigned in court but you know we didn’t convict a fly or recover a penny. Forget that an inquiry cost us over 300 million. We failed pitifully…and why? There was not political goodwill.
2. Anglo-leasing Scandal
We lost tens of billions and the public wouldn’t rest until the culprits were shown the door. Well, they were shown the door, the cases didn’t even pick and the ‘culprits’ are still in leadership. We even had to pay 1.4 billion to an Anglo-leasing firm to get our Eurobond approved with the promise (by none other than the president) that culprits will be brought book and our money recovered. That never happened. Why? lack of goodwill from the agencies in charge of fighting corruption in Kenya
3. The Grand Regency and Safaricom Scandals
The Grand Regency was sold and Safaricom shares floated amid public outrage. People insisted Amos Kimunya had to go and so he went…briefly. Did we recover the hotel? No! It is Laico Regency, owned by Libyans. What about finding more about the mysterious Mobitelea (which owned 5% of Safaricom) before selling the shares? We know nothing about it to date, the shares were sold and bought by the very people who opposed the Initial IPO.
4. The Maize Scandal
The government decided to avail subsidized maize to the poor after the post-election violence. It was supposed to be cheaper and distributed in Nairobi’s slums. Long story short, the maize disappeared! Followed by political finger-pointing. As expected, politicians fixed each other and that was all. We didn’t recover our Maize, the suspects are our heroes today.
5. The Kazi Kwa Vijana Scandal
Kazi Kwa Vijana, a program Similar to NYS Empowerment Program, but paying a little less, also failed. The Office of the Prime Minister was in charge. Fast forward, no one was arrested, no one took political responsibility and no money was recovered! The project died and here we are being taught how to fight corruption by people who failed to fight it then.
6. The Tokyo Embassy Scandal
Kenya had lost about a billion in Tokyo alone. Again, Kenyans went for the holder of the office, one Moses Wetangula. He stepped aside for a while only to be ‘cleared’ and returned back to government. Today he is a CORD principal and anti-graft czar. He speaks against graft with so much passion these days. Did we get our money back? Do we have convictions? No…nothing. Our money was lost.
7. The Jubilee Step-Aside Scandal
President Kenyatta takes a list of about 175 high-ranking officials suspected of graft to parliament. According to him, the EACC had concluded their investigations and so the prosecutor was given 60 days to make sure people are brought to book and money lost recovered. Today, the prosecutor is just about to clear everyone on the list. And some of the ‘suspects’ were re-appointed by the same president. So far the fight against corruption in Kenya has been nothing but a dry joke taken too far.
8. The Waiguru NYS Scandal
Ann Waiguru was accused of looting the ministry of devolution dry. She denied direct involvement and declared herself the whistle-blower. But the opposition and the media would hear none of it. They tried her on public rallies and media houses. I mean, they insulted Waiguru into resignation. Fast forward, Waiguru is poised to be the Governor for Kirinyaga. The question, what happened to the ‘evidence’ her accusers had against her? And why did the noise stop? Well, some noise-makers were part of the heist.
From the above instances, it’s obvious that our approach has been wrong. It doesn’t care about recovering lost fund or bringing the offenders to justice. Gathering concrete evidence to nail the pepetrators isn’t the priority, sending the accused into early ‘retirement’ with full package is the only priority.
The so-called war against corruption in Kenya is at best a cover-up or a tool to settle political scores. Do we just give up? I don’t think so..
No house can stand longer on a weak foundation they say. Our war against corruption must be proceeded with attitudinal change. I suggest that to win the war against corruption in Kenya:
- The citizen must stop engaging in corruption. They must abhor shortcuts..it takes two to tango..and the traffic police will not take bribe if there is no one to bribe him/her..don’t you agree?
- The political class must embrace patriotism. Patriots don’t selfishly loot their country. They must also create harsh laws against graft.
- The relevant agencies (the EACC, DCI, DPP and the Judiciary) must be headed by clean people who actually want to see an end to corruption…not political friends.
- We must end tribalism because it provides refuge for looters…they act with impunity knowing too well they will be protected by their own.
And the war against corruption should go past politicians; the health industry, the police, education system and the private sector must be scrutinized and those found guilty charged. What do you think?