MAKODINGO: Pandora Papers being pushed to divert attention from graft war

When they say “Corruption fights back”, it is usually a vicious fight.

In Summary

• When they say “Corruption fights back”, it is usually a vicious fight that often targets individuals leading the fight. 

• Over the last couple of years, the spotlight has been shinning on those holding high offices in Government and what is suspected to be ill-gotten wealth reasonably suspected to have been stolen from public coffers.

President Uhuru Kenyatta.
President Uhuru Kenyatta.

Over the last couple of hours, Kenyans have been inundated with stories on media (both social and mainstream) coming out of what is now known as Pandora Papers – the largest leak of documents related to offshore accounts and the secrecy around them.

In these leaks, the first family is said to have opened offshore accounts in Panama and the British Virgin Islands.

In one such account, the President is said to be a second-generation beneficiary of up to $30 million in a Panamian Offshore account.

At the time these accounts were opened in 2003, Uhuru Kenyatta had just lost a Presidential election to Mwai Kibaki back in December 2002.

He was a distraught leader of the Official Opposition with no access to Public money other than his salary.

In its reporting, the BBC is quoted as saying, “The Papers, however, show NO evidence that the Kenyatta family stole or hid state assets in their offshore companies” – a rather obvious thing given that they had no access to state resources.

From conversations on social media, it is very clear that this conversation is being actively pushed – and very openly so – by a side of the political divide colloquially known as Tanga Tanga associated by a high ranking but rebellious Government official.

When they say “Corruption fights back”, it is usually a vicious fight that often targets individuals leading the fight.

Reputational damage is often the first point of attack – so that the fighter loses credibility in the eyes of the public and delegitimize their fight.

When the corrupt fail in the ad hominem attacks, they often resort to whataboutism.

The Merriam Webster dictionary says this about Whataboutism“It is not merely the changing of a subject ("What about the economy?") to deflect away from an earlier subject as a political strategy; it’s essentially a reversal of accusation, arguing that an opponent is guilty of an offence just as egregious or worse than what the original party was accused of doing, however unconnected the offences maybe.”

Over the last couple of years, the spotlight has been shinning on those holding high offices in Government and what is suspected to be ill-gotten wealth reasonably suspected to have been stolen from public coffers.

In fact, at some point this year, the President insinuated that there was a time up to two billion shillings could be lost in a single day.

Because one of the major accused persons is now a legitimate candidate for President, calls have been made to make the War on Graft an Election issue – we cannot turn around the economy if taxpayers’ money is stolen by unscrupulous public officials.

Of course, these people do not want the war on corruption to be an election issue because they would have no ground to stand on.

To distract from this conversation, they have tried every trick in the book including attempting to fan a class war pitting poor people they have branded as “Hustlers” against the wealthy that they have branded “Dynasties”.

When this started to backfire with irate youth in their strongholds beginning to burn vehicles belonging to Kenyans they perceived to be beneficiaries of this unequal society they had been incited against, they switched gears to talk about some strange phenomenon called “Bottoms-Up” economy which none of them could actually explain.

They tried for months to talk about a concept even their own party leader did not understand – notwithstanding the fact that we fought for Devolution purposely to empower the grassroots Mama mboga to participate, from the village, in prioritizing their needs for County Government funding.

Having been in charge of Economic Planning in a County Government, it is my considered opinion that there is no way a process developed by a Party Leader from Nairobi could be more “Bottom-Up” than what devolution presents. Anyone who is serious about empowering Mama Mboga must advocate for more funding for County Governments and better accountability for funds transferred (like BBI Bill did) to benefit the real Mwananchi for whom it is meant.

As their “Bottoms-Up” model disintegrated, they tried yet another diversion to a non-existent issue of security for the Deputy President.

Without realizing it, they walked right into probably the most damaging expose of the “HustlerNation” narrative.

Parliament records revealed billions of shilling worth of property owned by the Deputy President and companies associated with him for which huge contingents of police were guarding.

For example, his five helicopters for which security is provided at a private hanger in Wilson Airport alone are worth upwards of two billion shillings.

In addition to three other hotels associated with him and other large tracks of land, we are looking at a cursory glance of properties worth upwards of twenty billion shillings.

Having tracked the amounts of money donated to churches and other organized groups over the last couple of years, those amounts alone make the legitimate $30 million deposited in a Panamian Account nearly two decades ago by the first family look like pocket change.

In fact, the amount of money lost in the Arror and Kimwarer Dam scandals is more than the entire fortune said to have been kept in offshore accounts by the Kenyattas.

It is quite easy to see why they would latch on to a non-issue of a family with legitimate businesses that generate way in excess of the $30 million reportedly in offshore accounts to try once more and divert attention from their failing sloganeering-based campaigns.

And like President Kenyatta said in his statement Monday, “…these reports (Pandora Papers) will go a long way in enhancing the financial transparency and openness that we require in Kenya and around the globe. The movement of illicit funds, proceeds of crime and corruption thrive in an environment of secrecy and darkness”

A Senator closely associated with the Deputy President declared on his Twitter handle that the 2022 General Election is a fight between President Kenyatta and his Deputy despite the obvious fact that the President’s second and final term constitutionally ends in August next year.

In my opinion, this framing was meant to achieve two things – make whoever the President supports look like a stooge and secondly, make the President and his family a target of their Whataboutism on corruption to neutralize the widely accepted perception of their candidate as being irredeemably corrupt.

This is their final Hail Mary to hopefully divert attention from corruption as an election issue and allow them to confuse gullible Mwananchi with nonsensical slogans in the hope that voters are too stupid to see them for the Snake Oil Salesmen they are!

We want the War on Corruption to be an election issue!

No amount of ad hominem attacks and Whataboutism will distract us from it.

The future of our Nation depends on it!