Crumbling credibility sees Bob abandoned by colleagues

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By TNLM Writer

In January this year Bob Collymore committed a mortal corporate sin: he hijacked a business sector working document and presented it at State House as his own and then proceeded to make himself the de facto leader of an anti-corruption crusade that sought to cast other CEO’s as weak and less transparent in the war on corruption and that he was the only one who could be trusted to offer leadership in this area from the private sector.

Mortal sin because the private sector response to the broader problem of corruption had been developed over many months and spearheaded by the Kenya National Chamber of Commerce and Industry (KNCCI). KNCCI had hitherto been a member of the Kenya Private Sector Alliance (Kepsa) (where Collymore is also a member) and had disclosed the anti-corruption proposals for discussion.

Without seeking the approval of KNCCI, the Safaricom CEO hijacked the KNCCI document, assembled a few unsuspecting CEOS and rushed to an impromptu State House function where he purported to take charge of the private sector anti-corruption response.
Soon after the Safaricom CEO purported to disclose his earnings and assets in a charade which was meant to set him apart from other CEOs.

And so the relationship between KNCCI and Kepsa collapsed.  KNCCI accused Bob Collymore of hijacking its flagship platform as the statutory and internationally recognised voice of private sector players and of further hijacking its anti-corruption programme and presenting it to State House as his own proposal.  Kiprono Kittony, Chairman of KNCCI immediately tendered his resignation from KEPSA.

The actions of Bob Collymore fit exactly into what David Ndii recently stated in one of his opinion pieces in the Saturday Nation that “there is a name for people who appropriate for themselves something of value which they have not earned.  We call them thieves.”

That this pretended “private sector” response to corruption was a mere publicity stunt can be easily gauged by the fact that the self-glorifying wealth declaration was spurned by all other CEOs. Collymore has not attempted to formalise this wealth-declaration into a meaningful structure.  He has not called meetings with captains of industry at which the extent and manner of this disclosure ought to take.

For instance, will it include disclosure of wealth held by spouses or children of a CEO? There are many questions that come to mind. It is clear that there was no intention to follow up this publicity stunt with a concrete plan.

And then the KPMG audit report on Safaricom hit the streets. In a 300-page analysis, the report showed Safaricom lacking in all respects: no internal controls where all major tenders were awarded to bidders who were unqualified and who had lost under the objective standards of the tenders.  So deep is the rot at Safaricom that if the report had been on a Parastatal, the CEO of the parastatal would have long been fired and charged in court.  To borrow the words of Chief Justice Willy Mutunga, Safaricom is a “bandit” company (country).

It explains why not a single CEO has come forward to support Bob Collymore. Not in his wealth declaration initiative. And now, not in his tribulations as disclosed in the KPMG report. And still not on his campaign to enlist the Police to trace the source of the leaked KPMG report: without leaks how would we have known about the NYS, Watergate, Panama Papers scandals.

Bob Collymore’s attempt to call in the Police to investigate the source of the leakage is indeed very strange and points to a delusional aspect of Bob Collymore: documents of private companies are not protected documents under the Penal Code or any other law.  Only official secret documents under Section 3(7) of the Official Secrets Act are protected in our law.  Bob Collymore has a notion in his mind that Safaricom is so big as to have assumed the status equivalent to the Kenyan state and where he can summon the police to investigate matters regarding unauthorised release of its documents.  There is no criminal offence committed in leaking documents of a private company.  At best it could invite internal disciplinary sanction.

If indeed the police have responded and deployed officers to engage in this private and personal investigation ordered by a person who has overseen the massive frauds disclosed in the KPMG report, that would be a clear abuse of authority.

It is generally known that at the Safaricom board meeting of 10 May, threats were issued against Board members in the presence of persons who were introduced as police officers.  Some board members were clever enough to record the entire proceedings because of how inappropriately the proceedings were being conducted and the menacing threats being issued by a foreigner acting as a local sheriff. Someone should tell Vodafone that Kenya is not a police state.

And to think that in the recent UK Anti-Corruption Summit in London, Vodafone was part of the following session: “Plenary 3: Empowering Citizens and Business by Supporting Whistleblowers, Civil Society and a Free Media (Marquee)”

The Rt. Hon. Justine Greening MP, Secretary of State for International Development Suelette Dreyfus, Technology Journalist and Researcher
Arianne Kassman, Youth Integrity Program Coordinator, Transparency International PNG Inc Mark Goldring, CEO, Oxfam GB
Tamara Davies, Head of Compliance and Corporate Secretariat, Vodafone Group Services Limited

In other words, Vodafone pretends to be a big anti-corruption champion in public but in practice its attitude is inimical to “supporting whistleblowers” or a “free press” in the war against corruption.

Can Tamara Davis and Bob Collymore tell Kenyans how misusing the police to investigate a “whistleblower” fits into the commitment made by Vodafone in its less than honest anti-corruption campaign?  Vodafone and Bob Collymore must walk the talk.

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