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January 20, 2019

Uhuru: Man of steel, burning spear

The war on graft and impunity is on in earnest. We are witnesses to history as some former untouchables or sacred cows have been hauled before the courts to their utter disbelief and consternation. In an unprecedented move, we saw the whole management of a state corporation, Kenya Power and Lighting Company, charged in court.

Several governors have been thrown off their high horses and a whole lot of people are afraid, very afraid. The President and his able servants, the Director of Public Prosecutions and the Director of Criminal Investigations, are not taking any prisoners. Is this the ruthless second-term President that Jubilee deputy chairman David Murathe had warned about?

Word on the grapevine is that President Uhuru Kenyatta has both insulated and isolated himself from the numerous hangers-on of the first term. That is why the State House gatekeepers were shown the door and handpicked ones appointed. His current diary and itinerary are only known to a select few and there are no longer any leakages on his current or future plans.

His itinerary for the Mombasa tour confounded both friend and foe as he kept well away from State House, Mombasa, and stayed in his private residence(s). Are we seeing a different side of him or is this the real Uhuru. Has the leopard changed its spots and is now ferociously baring its fangs?

During the first term he appeared a deeply conflicted man. All attempts at eradicating graft were swiftly countered as corruption mandarins fought back. On two occasions, one in Israel and another at State House, Nairobi, he publicly expressed his frustrations as his attempts to slay the corruption dragon were neutered.

There was a variance between his wish and effecting his will, leading to inner conflict. The shadow of reelection hovered near his every action. He undoubtedly did not want to acquire the dubious distinction of becoming Kenya’s first one-term President. Caution became inevitable as he sailed close to the wind. In a way he was hostage to interests that he did not subscribe to.

After some deep reflection, he made the selfless and courageous decision of reaching out to his nemesis Raila Odinga. The outcome is the now famous handshake at Harambee House and the ongoing Building Bridges Initiative. In bringing Raila closer he has succeeded in containing his most erstwhile political opponent and emasculating the Opposition, thus killing two birds with one stone. Others like Prof Makau Mutua have stated that the handshake freed him from cartels and from Deputy President William Ruto. The latter is still subject to verification.

What is not in doubt is that we now have a President who is completely unfettered and who is willing to lose friends in the war on corruption and impunity. In his own words, he is not considering going slow on this fight, even if it comes at the cost of losing friends. "Over the last few weeks I have lost so many friends. I have received many calls questioning the demolitions. It is difficult to stop, not because we love to destroy but because we must fight impunity," he said on Sunday.

He warned those involved in corruption that neither their money nor political connections will save them from the course of the law. "Let us lose our friends and do what is right in the eyes of God. We shall gain other friends as we move forward. Let us create a society that respects and treasures hard work and integrity, a nation with a conscience.” With these words he put the fear of God and the terror of the devil in a host of fat-cats and tenderpreneurs whose lives depend and revolve around corruption.

Those who have known the President over the years will tell you this is the real Uhuru Kenyatta. A firm, steadfast, yet reflective personality. Under that easygoing personality lies a man of steel, the Burning Spear.

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