FIGHT AGAINST CORRUPTION

Don't expect miracles overnight but war on graft is being won

Under President Uhuru Kenyatta, it is clear that the war against graft is yielding results

In Summary

• Corruption is now considered a serious issue and no longer a national pastime.

•  The important decision that KiambuGovernor Ferdinand Waititu must step aside during his trial is widely seen as a victory in the fight against corruption.

Director of Public Prosecution Noordin Haji with Director of Criminal Investigations George Kinoti before Senate Justice and Legal Affairs Committee on, August 29, 2018.
Director of Public Prosecution Noordin Haji with Director of Criminal Investigations George Kinoti before Senate Justice and Legal Affairs Committee on, August 29, 2018.
Image: FILE

The fight against endemic corruption in Kenya is an asymmetrical battle.

It pits a government, a criminal investigations system, essentially a bureaucracy, against an almost limitless number of people who have some measure of control and access to funds.

As we have seen, corruption can involve teachers, doctors and junior civil servants and it can take place at the highest levels of government. That is why, just as a nation’s army is going to struggle against an insurgent terrorist or militant organisation, because it is impossible to monitor all of the people all of the time, it becomes a  gargantuan task to cut off the weeds of corruption wherever they grow.

 

Nevertheless, that doesn’t mean that effort should not be made. Under President Uhuru Kenyatta, it is clear that the war against graft is yielding results, thus changing the perception against those involved in theft and plunder.

Some of the biggest names in politics and business have been brought down, and it is clear that this is the real deal. However, we cannot expect miracles overnight. We should not think that because there is still corruption and much to do that the job is not being done.

There is a saying, “The perfect is the enemy of good.” This means if we are expecting perfection, an impossible measure to attain in any human industry, then we will never accept the good. Unfortunately, as with crime, while there are still criminals, people will assume those involved in preventing and apprehending criminals are not doing their job. The same is true of the war against terror.

A nation may massively undermine a terrorist organisation’s ability to perpetrate attacks, arrest or kill many of the top leaders and degrade their economic abilities. However, if one person with a gun or a rudimentary bomb manages to perpetrate an attack, then terror is seen to have won.

The important decision that Kiambu Governor Ferdinand Waititu must step aside during his trial is widely seen by governance and legal experts as a victory in the fight against corruption.

Many Kenyans know that in the past when a defendant was allowed to remain in such a high-profile office during the investigation and trial, they would use their power to hide the evidence and influence or intimidate witnesses.

This decision comes hot on the heels of the decision to arrest Treasury CS Henry Rotich and his PS Kamau Thugge. These are game-changing events in this battle.

These are precedent-setting cases that should make us optimistic about President Kenyatta’s efforts and give us hope that the disease of corruption and graft is finally receiving treatment.

Nonetheless, we still hear from many quarters the refrain that there is still corruption, and point to something they might be personally familiar with, or by the specious argument that the war on graft has a political agenda.

 

Many of those who try and forward these arguments do so because of their own political agenda, or sometimes because the noose is tightening around them or their associates. They want to try and discredit their accusers in advance. We have to look at the glass half full, at least.

We should look at where we were in 2015 when President Kenyatta launched his war on corruption. Few believed him then, and many thought it would never move beyond mere words. Those who take an honest and unbiased look at the situation will see the massive gains made during these past four years.

Corruption is now considered a serious issue and no longer a national pastime. I can guarantee every reader that while corruption may still exist, many who would have previously thought little about putting their hand in the pot for personal gain are now thinking otherwise, and those that do are far fewer in number and their reckoning will eventually come.

The war on corruption, as well as being asymmetric and driven by perception, is also a psychological one. Before victory, the ranks of the enemy have to be thinned out and would-be supporters persuaded that joining their cause would be a lost one. This is certainly happening.

The headlines about corruption, the arrest of those at the highest levels and their inability to rig their investigations is closing the gaps in an attack which is encircling the criminals. Uhuru is using the famous pincer movement on the enemies of this country and giving them less space to work.

The war is most certainly not won, but Uhuru is certainly winning.

The writer is the Igembe North MP.