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November 20, 2018

Will prayers win over graft?

Word and sword
Word and sword

Enter the Archbishop to slay the dragon of corruption. Spirituality looks like an added advantage for the job.

If Parliament approves the nomination of former head of the Anglican Church of Kenya Eliud Wabukals as chairman of the Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission, then a spiritually-loaded statement will have been made. But good intentions, without prosecutions, trials, acquittals or convictions, fall short of reclaiming accountability.

The nomination is a desperate plea for divine intervention. The position was vacant for a long time, with reluctant applications for the Sh2 million a month job. Potential takers were reluctant to risk their careers. They saw previous occupants of the office hounded out of Integrity Centre in career-damaging circumstances.

But appointing a man of God to challenge the lords of impunity is not a bad idea. It means there is faith in the possibility of divine intervention. It shows the resilience of hope. Hope that the war on corruption is not lost.

The expected appointment of a senior minister of the Church could also mean a surrender to the power of prayer to contain sin.

Prayers may be what we need to contain the sprawling wave of corruption — now a multi-billion shilling enterprise. The resilience of the lords of impunity is astounding: They harassed a policeman — a sharp-shooter to boot — out of station. They claimed the former enforcer of the law was too hard on the lords of impunity.  

They accused him of acting in “excess of powers”. A tribunal, which Justice Aaron Ringera chaired, found John Harun Mwau ‘guilty’ of possessing high-octane passion for the job. They ejected him within months of his appointment.

Then came a judge of deceptively gentle mien. The judge also had a rough time taming lords of impunity. They shoved him out, but he got a second chance to slay the vicious dragon of corruption.
Justice Ringera did not go far: He discovered he was operating between the hammer of his friends and the anvil of his enemies. The dragon was vicious, the fightback was unrelenting. Justice Ringera, a man of poetic expression, bowed out a humbled man, only months after declaring, “I will not resign..

Then came a professor of high-sounding ideals. A tendentious man of unparalleled verbosity, a tough-talking rabble-rouser. For the time he stayed in office, PLO Lumumba promised to hit those who had crossed the red line hard. The lawyer was ejected when the vultures of opportunity gathered in Parliament to defend vested interests. Lumumba was accused of using the office to solicit harambee money for a public project.

The hunters adduced no proof of conflict of interest, but PLO quit a disappointed man. He had fought corruption with choice words, but there were no high-level accusations, arrests, charges, trials, convictions, or acquittals.

PLO had warned the EACC was reviewing some 112 files whose subjects included Cabinet Secretaries and MPs. The tough-talking accountability policeman showed his potential victims the gun before cornering the targets for prosecution. Perhaps another year of PLO in office would have made the much-awaited difference at Integrity Centre.

Then came Mumo Matemo, a man who was singularly unprepared for the job. Some MPs claimed Matemo lacked the passion to slay the dragon of corruption. Matemo was forced out of Integrity Centre after his potential victims sensed he was baying for their blood. Matemo was pushed out with his team of three commissioners. They left no trail in the fight against corruption. Another career had been ruined on the eve of its promise.

But it was the career-ruining exit of Philip Kinisu that discouraged those who would have loved to take up the high-paying job. Kinisu resigned after a company associated with him was sucked into the Sh1.6 billion National Youth Service scandal.

Bishop Wabukala is getting into a high-risk job, which could taint his image if he hits the owners of Sodom too hard. The Archbishop will need our prayers to survive the tempest.

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