Has Kenya become a hotbed of corruption? This year has turned out to be a perdition for the Jubilee Alliance coalition especially the Executive arm because of the rampant looting of public funds. It is a culture that the mandarins have fully embraced and they deserve to be awarded a medal on this but they are an unlucky lot since we do not have Olympic games that award the outstanding looters. However, they can choose to award themselves by intensely propagating this societal vice.
In recent weeks, the Cabinet Secretary in charge of the Devolution and Planning docket has been in the news for wrong reasons. This said portfolio has witnessed massive looting ranging from the shs.791 million National Youth Service scam and the more recent shs.11 billion scandal occasioned by skewed procurement and purchasing of several items by the ministry.
CS Anne Waiguru has been indelible in the wake of calls for her to step aside and pave way for investigations to take place. One thing that surprises me is the rate at which the embattled cabinet secretary is being defended by several entities. There is no doubt that Ms. Anne Waiguru is being shielded by the presidency. The recent dismissal of a motion meant to impeach her for the third time by the Speaker of the National Assembly , Justin Muturi, is a clear indicator that the Speaker acted on orders from ‘above’. As I have written before, Mr. Muturi epitomizes the real definition of incompetence; being partisan in matters of national importance by inclining towards his political nest. If a motion has met the threshold demanded for it to proceed to the next stage of being debated, I see no need to stifle it. The National Assembly Speaker has turned out to be a demagogue that endangers Kenya’s posterity.
Other individuals who are defending Waiguru are the so-called ‘feminists’. Let’s face it. It seems the fad right now is to be a feminist. I have interacted with some of these self-proclaimed ‘feminists’ and clearly they ooze a lot of ignorance on what feminism pertains. Most of them claim that feminism is about equality. This is good but the current cadre of ‘feminists’ tends to push for women power even in situations where women leaders are committing economic crimes such as looting of public finances. Let’s take a moment to meditate and be realistic.
Through my undergraduate studies at the university, I was a faithful intellectual of two social science disciplines, Economics and Sociology. Through Sociology, feminism is all about according women equal rights and opportunities in the society by denouncing the societal bottleneck in the name of male chauvinism that is very repressive. I strongly believe in the philosophy of women empowerment and I have never tolerated any non-sense that is occasioned by chauvinistic tendencies displayed and exhibited by the male gender.
However, we should develop a clear understanding when it comes to the upholding of the values of honesty and integrity especially in a state office. I have heard of several proclamations on how women in high profile positions have been ejected out of office because of their gender. The following individuals have been cited as examples of this vilification: Nancy Baraza the former Deputy Chief Justice, Gladys Boss Shollei the former Chief Registrar of the Judiciary and Charity Ngilu aka Mama Rainbow. The commonality among the aforementioned individuals is their involvement in societal vices. Except for Charity Ngilu who is suspended as the cabinet secretary for Lands, the other two were replaced by women. Anne Atieno Amadi took over as Shollei’s position while Kalpana Rawal replaced Nancy Baraza. So before we come out guns blazing on the purported victimization of women in public service, it will be a big honour if we get the details and facts right.
So why does Waiguru and other CSs whose ministries are irredeemably corrupt deserve to be shown the door? In December 2nd 2014, after a Cabinet Meeting, the following statement was issued and I quote: “the roles of Cabinet Secretaries have been widened. They now have greater oversight in sanctioning procurement in MDAs (Ministries, Departments and Agencies) and SAGAs (Semi-Autonomous Government Agencies), formerly a preserve of Principal Secretaries. They will now also approve work, procurement and cash flow plans”. No addition on this, CSs should take responsibility of their dockets. A chief executive has the duty to ensure that his entity has a vibrant and financially healthy system.
Corruption is embedded in the whole government from the Judiciary, the Executive and Parliament. Comments recently made by the Chief Justice, Dr. Willy Mutunga, only seek to cement this reality. Parliament itself has been embroiled in a scam in which shs.500 million was swindled and the National Assembly Speaker acknowledged it. The leader of majority in the National Assembly, Aden Duale, also confessed that corruption is the norm in the three arms of the government. There is also a time that President Kenyatta talked about corruption in the Office of the President and how the individuals promoting the avarice were going to be met by the full force of the law.
One of the major weaknesses of the ruling Jubilee coalition is the perfection of the art of double-speak and double-standards and supposedly kusema na kutotenda as well as kusema na kutender. If the president acknowledged the fact that his office is bedeviled with corruption, then went ahead to say that the country is fine a couple of days ago what does this imply? And mark you on Friday this week a special committee has been formed by the president to come up with plans and strategies to weed out corruption. It doesn’t sound good for our beloved president to appear to be a political dilettante.
Parliament also needs to be effective in its role in exercising oversight on the usage of public funds. The problem with our parliamentarians is that they politicize issues that deal with corruption. This depicts a clear lack of leadership. Parliament should be focusing on strengthening the Economic Crimes Act by passing laws that make the Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission to be a powerful anti-corruption body, creating a special court that deals with corruption so that cases dealing with graft are not delayed and hence derailed, and also enacting laws that any individual deemed corrupt in the past should NEVER be allowed to hold a state position in the present as well as in the future.
If Aden Duale admits that corruption is alive and kicking in the government, then as the majority leader he should marshal his colleagues and ensure that tough laws that call for zero-tolerance on graft are enacted as fast as possible. The ‘Tyranny of Numbers’ needs to be taken advantage of by the ruling Jubilee coalition.
The creation of a ‘lootocracy’ state has really tainted and dented our country’s image regionally and internationally. Apparently, the New York Times had this as its headline a few days ago; An Anti-corruption Plea in Kenya: Please Just Steal a Little. In addition, several countries namely United Kingdom, United States, France, Finland, Germany, Netherlands, Japan, Sweden, Switzerland and Canada have threatened to ban Kenyan leaders mentioned in cases of corruption from travelling to these countries. May be corruption is becoming a new tourist attraction. This is a laughable tragedy. It is high time for the Jubilee honchos to rise up and sweep off the mess of resource plundering and squandering that has become the second name of the current regime; the shs.100 million Hustler’s jet saga, the shs.13 billion NSSF and Tasia financial scandal, the shs.1.3 trillion Standard Gauge Railway scam, the shs.22 billion laptops procurement impropriety, the shs.791 million NYS scandal, the misappropriation of the shs.250 billion Eurobond, the shs.11 billion skewed procurement by the Ministry of Devolution and Planning, the shs.3.8 billion spending on a single day by the Interior and Coordination of National Government ministry, the shs.3 billion Anglo-Leasing pay out, the shs.8 billion Karen land saga, the Weston Hotel and Lang’ata Road Primary School land grabbing among others.
Enough has been said and more needs to be done as far as corruption is concerned. The buck stops with the president. If he doesn’t act with an iron fist on this matter, then the rot will spread deeply and widely. A strong political goodwill will make the fight on graft stronger and more stronger. But if state officials like the CS for Interior Major Gen. (Rtd) Joseph Nkaissery are going to intimidate the media for reporting cases on corruption, then the evil is with us to stay.