For many of Kenya’s public thieves – who cannot as much as blush even when caught with their hands in the purse – the current highly-advertised war on graft could be but a temporary inconvenience – one they could wait it out and proceed, like nothing ever happened. This is what we risk if we do not get the strategy right.
Some of the measures initiated by the President to check runaway graft seem to have had an abortive start, with the so-called lifestyle audit – conducted under a shroud of secrecy by a panel that contains shady individuals itself – yielding little by way of convictions and consequent prosecution.
And it is not too early either to expect results because before the announcement by the President, the National Intelligence Services should have had ready, prepared files of targeted individuals, and the panel’s only task should have been to corroborate.
Commendably, two institutions stand out: the Directorate of Criminal Investigations, and the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions. DCI George Kinoti, despite himself, the septic Police Service he works under and the extortionist Directorate he heads – and barring any specific orders he may have received from the Presidency in regard to the current purge – is actually working as he ought to.
The NIS has always had officers who diligently carry out their mandate; their only undoing is a multiplicity of allegiances that has often seen them deviate from their primary responsibilities, to satisfy politicians and other state officers, at the expense of the country’s best interests.
That said, it is a proper travesty that it has to take a legacy at stake for institutions that are responsible for the wellbeing of the State to be seen to be working. Grand theft has been around for as long as we can remember, and these same institutions have done nothing about it.
The blame lies squarely on the holders of the overall offices whose task it should be to investigate and prosecute the perpetrators, and they should be made to pay, alongside the criminals themselves. For all we are worth as a nation, we should not, must not reward such vile characters with plum state appointments; it is immoral, it is reprehensible, and it is a huge middle finger to long-suffering Kenyans.
DPP Noordin Haji has exhibited an enthusiasm for the rule of law and knack for meticulousness we had forgotten existed amongst Kenya’s State officers.
Coming in as an established politician’s son, Kenyans were ready to write him off as just another beneficiary of State sponsored jobs. But, in the space of months, he has endeared himself to one and all owing to his approach and demeanour – affable but firm, scrupulous and not given to manipulation.
His brief record disperses doubts as to his resolve, and quickly erases any notions of lax-by-privilege we may have imagined.
But as long as the President continues to psychologically intimidate and punish crime busters by rewarding known thieves, serial underperformers and alleged contract killers to state appointments, Kenyans will be forgiven for choosing not to take Uhuru seriously. For, however dedicated they may be, Noordin – and others elsewhere like him – is just one man, heading a department that is understaffed and underfunded, by the standards he has set for himself.
How, for example, did Uhuru settle on Ben Chumo, for appointment as chair of the Salaries and Remuneration Commission, a position for which one has to be thoroughly vetted and subjected to background checks — he has since been arrested for economic crimes — or Ndegwa Muhoro for ambassador, a man who is accused of not only covering up for criminals, but also of being actively involved in illegal activities, including land grabbing, subjugation of junior staff and threats to kill while at DCI?
What does the arrest and charging of Chumo, so soon after the vote of confidence by the President, say about his real intentions?
President Kenyatta has had countless opportunities to inject zeal and goodwill into this protracted war – by sacking those in his inner circle accused of or overtly involved in corruption or, at the very least, refusing to shield them – but has come short every time. His occasional episodes of displayed anger and hunger to clean the system do not inspire confidence either.
It is not enough for the President to say he hates corruptions and wants it to end, if his actions, so soon after the word leaves his mouth, negate the very values he professes.
Kenyans look up to you, Mr President; you have their goodwill and support. Show them the side of you they are asking to see.