‘Uhuru the avenger’ but some still sceptical

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BY Emeka Mayaka-Gekara

National Intelligence Service director-general Phillip Kameru has been working over-time. He is the cog around which President Uhuru Kenyatta’s anti-graft drive revolves.

He, alongside, George Kinoti, the Director of Criminal Investigations, have been tasked with cleaning up government. It is on the basis of their brief to the President that the dramatic arrests of NYS looting suspects were made.

For instance, following the spy-in-chief’s dossier on the NYS scandal, an angry Kenyatta on May 10, summoned Public Service CS Margaret Kobia to State House for a dressing down. And in a weak act of self-defence, Public Service PS Lilian Mbogo Omollo accused Kameru of grossly exaggerating the amount lost in the NYS scandal. The PS, who was arrested, soon after, put the figure at Sh900 million, not the Sh8 billion claimed.

In the present war, Kenyans are been treated to a new-face Uhuru: ruthless and resolute. The President has set up a multi-agency team involving the intelligence services, the DCI, the office of the Director of Public Prosecutions and the anti-corruption commission to wage the war.

He has also come up radical steps. To start off, he ordered all heads of procurement and accounting units in ministries, departments and state corporations to step aside for vetting before they can resume their jobs. The officials were required to submit their personal information to the Head of Public Service by June 8.

As well, he issued an Executive Order requiring all government entities and public owned institutions to publish full details of tenders and awards from the beginning of July, to allow members of the public to access the information, including details of the items or services purchased, contract prices, and the particulars of the suppliers.

But it is his demand for a lifestyle audit has caused jitters in government, with concerns that if executed, it will open an arena for a witch-hunt that could cannibalise the Uhuru-Ruto coalition.

“There is a deprivation element to it that is unattractive and could be politicized,” says a senior Jubilee politician. “There is also the question of how to enforce the directive in county governments where the presidency does not exert direct authority.”

Perhaps unvoiced are concerns by seemingly restless Ruto supporters that their man is audit’s main target. And the DP has indicated willingness to undergo the audit on condition that it is not selective, for, for a long time, the source of Ruto’s vast wealth has been the subject of public debate. The general feeling in his camp is that the ‘TNA side’ wants to place the skunk at his door to ruin his chances of succeeding Uhuru.

There have also been questions on the agency to conduct the audit, with Opposition chiefs Raila Odinga, Kalonzo Musyoka and Transparency International proposing that the exercise be conducted by a reputable foreign firm to protect its integrity. There is apprehension that local authorities could be corrupted.

A team of experts working on modalities of executing the directive has proposed that public servants be forced to surrender to the government all wealth whose origin they cannot explain. They will also be arrested and prosecuted when the lifestyle audit is complete.

Having staked his legacy on the anti-graft campaign and the Agenda Four items, the enduring question among sceptics is, will Uhuru succeed?

John Githongo is an enduring cynic – highly lukewarm towards President Uhuru Kenyatta’s much-vaunted crusade against theft in government. He believes corruption under the Jubilee Administration is “better educated, better dressed, speaks finer English and is digitised.”

Senator James Orengo is convinced graft resides at the top levels of the regime. “In the inner sanctum of power, there are people sitting there who should not be there,” he says. This is where the war should begin, according to Githongo.

“Despite extraordinary efforts to manage the media, the current campaign is yet to capture public imagination. Until it does, Kenyatta is rolling a stone uphill watched by a disbelieving population,” wrote Githongo in the East Africa Review. (

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