The visit by Zambian MPs to ‘learn corruption’ would have been timely fake news, but it wasn’t. The lawmakers showed up on Valley Road, where they may have learnt how expensive cheap can be.
But the lesson would have sunk if the visitors verified what they might have been told at the Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission. They probably met at the EACC boardroom where no one sees the elephant in their midst.
The Zambians could have gained from a background check on the fight against corruption before they left Lusaka. When they arrived in Nairobi, the National Youth Service executives were under investigation for the loss of Sh9 billion [Sh468 million]. This comes three years after another loss of Sh791 million. Kenya Pipeline was also hitting the headlines, with a possible loss of Sh95 billion.
There was also high octane rhetoric: “We shall not condone corruption,”as suspects catwalked in elective office. Some were aging behind the dock, with no sign their cases would ever be concluded.
Scores of suspects had been charged, and denied bail. But they know that, when you steal Sh200m, you allocate 20 per cent for legal mercenaries. Lawyers were in clover, , sniffing for a share of the booty.
The Zambians arrived to heightened motion without movement. It has always been this way. A scanned copy of the Daily Nation circulating online confirms the rant against corruption precedes the current heat.
In a newspaper cutting from the 1960s, Daniel arap Moi, then Vice President, was reported declaring “the government’s commitment to crush corruption”. President Mwai Kibaki arrived in 2002, as a corruption fighter, but was converted into conspiratorial silence when Anglo Leasing scam sucked the Executive.
Corruption has since crushed the economy. Former Chief Justice Willy Mutunga told a Dutch newspaper, NRC Handelsbland, that Kenya is a “bandit economy”, where corruption pervades every cranny. President Uhuru Kenyatta told Kenyans in Israel last year that his people are “experts in stealing, whining, and perpetuating tribalism”.
Transparency International in a 2017 global corruption index found Kenya had a better record than Zambia. TI rated Kenya 143 of 180 countries surveyed, with a failing grade ‘F’ of 28/100. It ranked Zambia 96/180, with an ‘E’ score of 37/100. Yet Zambians came here to learn the math of corruption.
Last year, audit firm PriceWaterhouse Coopers found Kenya to be the third most corrupt country in the world, with a comparative advantage in embezzlement, bribery, and procurement fraud.
PwC also established a worrying trend in the survey, “low levels of confidence in the local law enforcement’s ability to investigate and prosecute economic crimes”. The Zambians still found EACC their destination.
Zambian MPs headed to Nairobi-Kenya instead of Manila, Philippines, where President Rodrigo Duterte is using unorthodox ways to fight drug cartels. There would be value for money if the MPs had gone to Manila, where the president pounces.
“If you are corrupt, I will fetch you using a helicopter to Manila and I will throw you out. I have done this before. Why would I not do it again?”
The EACC dangles knives before rams it intends to slaughter. Of the four cases of governors it had wanted to prosecute, only one file had prosecutable evidence.
Why does the EACC, with forensic investigators and resident lawyers, present frail files to the Director of Public Prosecutions? There seems to be compromise and orchestrated incompetence. Meanwhile taxpayers are suffering poor public services.
Surrendering to cartels is not an option. Director of the Directorate of Criminal Investigations George Kinoti and DPP Noordin Haji promise, possibly, accountability time for piglanders.
Kinoti and Haji, the public is looking up to you to bridge the integrity deficit.