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January 20, 2019

President Uhuru's Mere Threats To The Corrupt Will Not End Graft

President Uhuru Kenyatta. Photo/Norbert Allan
President Uhuru Kenyatta. Photo/Norbert Allan

A European diplomat once told me that President Moi told a meeting of Western diplomats that he spoke a language with two meanings. He could issue unintended threats to Western diplomats not to scold them but reassure his African subjects that he was still the man in charge of the country.

In fighting corruption, President Uhuru seems to resort to the same tactics of issuing unmeant threats to the corrupt in his office and elsewhere in the land, not with any real intention to draw their blood, but make people believe that his Jubilee government is fighting graft.

In an article in Saturday Nation of March 29, 2014, David Ndii boldly asserted that “governments lie” and accused the Jubilee government of lying, by cooking figures to prove a non-existent wage crisis of spiralling wage bill when the real purpose is to conceal the real wage disparities between few plutocrats at the very top and ordinary people at the bottom of society. If Ndii is right that Jubilee government is lying, we must conclude that the government cannot fight corruption. To earn popularity however, it will bark but never bite corruption.

If this is the case and we interpret the crusade against corruption as a people’s cause, they have yet to take up, we can say with justification that the campaign was lost the moment Uhuru and Ruto won power at the last general election. But if a government can lie about the economy, why can’t it lie about elections.

All corruption begins with lying and no lying can be a cure for graft. No lying government then can fight corruption because lies always aid, abet and conceal corruption.
All the government noise we hear about fighting corruption is just barking, never fighting graft. Already, the lion of corruption has invaded the homestead called Kenya. Therein, it is killing sheep and cattle at will. Unfortunately, instead of fighting this lion, the President who is the head of the homestead is only barking at it while taking cover under the bed. Why then should the lion leave the homestead and stop eating the sheep?

To fight corruption, President Uhuru may need to fight members of his family, friends and close political allies who may have dipped their fingers in the pot of corruption to scoop out the forbidden honey. Does he have revolutionary courage to fight his family? When Fidel Castro came to power in Cuba, the first big piece of land that his government confiscated to distribute to the peasants was his father’s and without this courage, no leader can fight corruption.

But will Uhuru fight? Already, we have tons and tons of evidence that has been accumulating since independence. Every year, there is the report of the Controller and Auditor General. There was the Report of Shame. There is the Ndung’u Report. There are numerous reports by Public Accounts Committee and Public Investments Committee of Parliament. The government does not act for lack of evidence. It is for the lack of will and courage to commit class suicide.

If President Uhuru shall fight corruption, he will need to break his silence on lots of money few people have stolen and banked abroad. Without the return of this money, the government borrowing and increasing taxes to get money for development sounds like condoning graft. One thing I know though, one cannot fight corruption alone or fight graft with its beneficiaries. As the Kikuyu proverb says: one who looks for his lost sheep with the one who has eaten it, will never find it. To fight corrupt, President Uhuru will need an army of anti-corruption crusaders whom people know about and can recognize for inspiration.

To fight graft, Uhuru will however depend on an already compromised Parliament that set aside the integrity chapter of the constitution to win elections, the battle is as good as lost. To form a credible army of fighting corruption from both his party and others, like Abraham Lincoln, President Uhuru will need to constitute a team of rivals, not to share loot as Kibaki’s and Raila’s government of national unity did, to guard against each other eating the forbidden fruit. 

To succeed the anti-corruption crusade, the President will also have to seek and get national good will. The war against graft cannot be won if Cord will frustrate it when championed by Jubilee or Jubilee will kill it if advocated for by Cord or any other group of Kenyans.

If Uhuru and Ruto will ever fight corruption, they must stop prevaricating. How can the President talk of fighting corruption if we have ghost workers in government, if no one so far has been jailed for stealing Sh330 billion from government, if the harshest punishment we have for corrupt civil servants is transfer to another ministry and if Deputy President believes we don’t need to jail or expel thieves from government for the economy to grow? 

Unfortunately, for Kenya, there is no doubt that the current political class both in government – Jubilee – and opposition – Cord – can be relied upon to end the epidemic. An ideologically new crop of leaders should end the endemic or we shall perish.

As we conclude, we must not take seriously the argument that Kenyan leaders cannot eradicate corruption because Kibaki, Kenyatta, Moi, Raila, Uhuru and Ruto have not done so. The reason for their failure is because they never believed in fighting graft in the first place.

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