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January 17, 2019

Ban cartels to save Big Four


Marauding cartels have taken over, as Interior Cabinet Secretary Fred Matiang’i procrastinates. Corruption cartels are a threat to the national interest. Their rapacity is unprecedented, yet Matiang’i is not keen on ‘banning’ them. This selective cognition of danger is political.

The ‘cartels’ have raided the National Youth Service twice in three years. They have raided the National Cereals and Produce Board, Kenya Pipeline, Kenya Power, Afya House, Ardhi House, City Hall and the National Youth Fund.

The cartels are wired in the national and county treasuries, banks, and investigative agencies. They are a government unto themselves.

The President’s legacy relies on the success of the Big Four agenda — expanded healthcare, food security, manufacturing and housing. The do-by-date is 2022, when the incumbent leaves office. But cartels are plundering the big bucks needed to realise the agenda.

For supplying nothing, they are paid billions of shillings. The money is sanitised on hitting accounts in complicit banks. The money is withdrawn in dollars, then carted away to be shared among tenderpreneurs.

The cartels — a network of piglanders — are in procurement departments. Their allies sit in tender committees. They are represented in account departments, the National Treasury and the Central Bank.

They have infiltrated the Integrated Financial Management and Information System. Wired and protected in Nairobi and the counties, the coalition of plunder knows the trail of big bucks.

Political patronage emboldens the impudence of these saboteurs. They are raising money to cover their expenses during the 2017 round of political buffoonery. They are also plotting 2022 electoral fraud.

Each fraud, delivered without legal consequences, fires impunity. The cartels have the money and the means to compromise everyone, including the IEBC, courts and the EACC.

EACC field investigators in Western Kenya claim cartels have captured bureaucrats at Integrity Centre, where chairman Eliud Wabukala is an isolated man. The reconfigured Directorate of Criminal Investigations under George Kinoti can follow the lead into what the Director of Public Prosecutions has always overlooked.

Two weeks ago, the cartels catapulted the NYS to a plunderous high of Sh10 billion. The 2015 pilferage of Sh791m tested and found wanting the will to fight corruption. Some of the suspects are now elected leaders.

Last week Nairobi Governor Mike Sonko fled from cartels to his home in Mua Hill, Machakos. The governor is scared of cartels. Here is a cue for the DCI to investigate.

Last week, reports of cartels raiding the heart of the Big Four — food security — emerged. Cartels are reaping when farmers are crying. Local maize is rotting in stores, while imports are traded at the National Cereals and Produce Board.

Two weeks ago, an executive in one of the counties in Nyanza named a devolved cartel. The county’s governor, an insider said, is a captive of this cartel. The executive said the cartel has ring-fenced the governor. “They dance with him, they dine with him, they hug and kiss him.” The executive says he does not want to take collective responsibility for the plunder of the county treasury.

The governor promised to eject the cartel a year ago. But after claiming a ‘win’ through electoral fraud, Bomas-style, he retained the cartel.

Matiang’i knows of banned gangs—Chinkororo, Mungiki, Gaza, Wakali Kwanza, 42 Brothers, Akili za Usiku, and Chapa Ilale. Last year, he placed ‘NRM-Kenya’ in the roll of outlawed organisations. But when shall he ‘ban’ marauding cartels?

French economist Claude-Frédéric Bastiat speaks to Kenya when he says, “When plunder becomes a way of life for a group of men in a society, over the course of time they create for themselves a legal system that authorises it and a moral code that glorifies it.”

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