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February 21, 2019

Eurobond All About Getting Rotich Fired

Treasury CS Henry Rotich. Photo/REUTERS
Treasury CS Henry Rotich. Photo/REUTERS

A week ago Citizen TV’s Hussein Mohammed interviewed former Cabinet Secretary Anne Waiguru on her life after Cabinet. One of the interesting observations I made was that Waiguru’s life is now very quiet, since she left office.

I found this odd, considering how much effort was used to get her out of office. Cord legislators went after her with everything they had, until they made her the poster child of corruption impunity. Raila Odinga, who led the onslaught, leveraged his immense political capital and zeroed it down on Waiguru. Leading Cord legislators attacked her during public rallies, making extremely crude comments about her personal life. Cord bloggers went into overdrive with really vulgar internet memes that they aggressively circulated on social media, again attacking her personally.

The Cord attacks were aggressive, well-coordinated and consistent. They were done so well, even die-hard Jubilee supporters believed them. When investigators confirmed that money had actually been stolen from the National Youth Service, even though not a single shred of evidence led to the CS herself, cries went up from even within Jubilee legislators, stating it was better for Jubilee if she left office.

After nine months of the most vicious personal attacks ever employed on a government official, Waiguru resigned. Then the attacks stopped; immediately!

This is what I find odd.

If Cord were genuinely going after her because they were fighting corruption, the attacks should not have stopped just because Waiguru had left office. The agitation should have continued as Cord demanded prosecution. If they were as sure of her guilt as they publicly proclaimed, they would have insisted that whatever money she had acquired be reclaimed. It did not happen. Apparently they just wanted to see whether they could hound a Jubilee CS out of office, and they had proved they could.

After their surprise success with Waiguru and after realising how much political damage they can inflict on Jubilee using such attacks, they have shifted to the next CS. Using exactly the same script (except for the personal attacks, which in Kenya do not work against men), and leveraging on Kenyans' ignorance of government financial transactions, they have moved from the NYS ‘goat’ they successfully claimed Waiguru had eaten, to the Eurobond ‘goat’ they insist Rotich has eaten.

However, despite making the Eurobond their signature issue for months now, they are yet to pinpoint one single area where Kenyans suffered loss from this transaction. Cord cannot show a single shred of evidence of theft, despite the fact that we live in a world where the war on terrorism and drug trafficking has made tracking large sums of money relatively easy. All they have are clerical mistakes made by Treasury officials.

But to stroke public controversy and keep the political attacks going, they have kept holding press conferences on the matter, constantly threatening to expose one thing or the other about how and where the Eurobond money has been stolen.

The latest such effort started with Raila sensationally giving the DPP an ultimatum to expose the Eurobond thieves, or he would. When the DPP did not expose these ‘thieves’, Raila held yet another press conference last week where, using powerpoint presentations he showed a list of errors allegedly made by Treasury, before ‘exposing’ those behind the massive looting of the Eurobond money. Unfortunately, all he did was list every senior government official involved in the transaction. The foreign media correspondents present immediately stated there was no ‘smoking gun’ in Raila’s ‘expose’. However, the local media happily reported the Raila list of ‘persons of interest’!

Central Bank of Kenya, the Controller of Budget, the Auditor General and Parliament have all confirmed that all Eurobond money was received by CBK. The EACC, DPP and CID have also confirmed no crimes were committed on this transaction. But we would still rather believe Cord because, ironically, since they managed to hound Waiguru out of office they must be right about Rotich. We prefer to listen to them rather than the institutions Kenyans set up to govern how public money is managed.

Meanwhile, the performance of the Eurobond, which is a symbolic expression of how much faith the international community has in Kenya’s economy, has plummeted. In addition, due to Cord’s constant attacks against the private financial institutions that worked with the government to float our first-ever foreign bond, such transactions will not attract reputable institutions who have now learnt that Kenya’s politics is not mature enough to understand the ramifications of unsubstantiated integrity allegations on private institutions. 

All this so Kenya’s opposition can bump off yet another CS from office. God help us!

Ngunjiri is a Director of Change Associates, a Political Consultancy.

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