By Ahmednasir Abdullahi, SC
The thing with Kenya’s kind of graft is that it has permeated virtually every facet of our lives. It has, in fact, assumed the status of an institution, which is why how we proceed with the war on graft is a vital determinant to the final outcome; the race to reclaim the country’s pilfered resources and public integrity is not something to be approached as though it were a checkers game.
Through observing goings-on in the past month, I would like to suggest a few strategies for His Excellency President Uhuru Kenyatta, his Deputy and their lieutenants.
Adopt battle mentality
All agencies involved in this fight, along with their agents, must approach the job at hand as a war that must be won. The objective should be straightforward – to decimate the enemy quickly and decisively, in as little time as possible.
There is now a multi-agency task force involved; the vast resources of these institutions – including the Directorate of Criminal Investigations, the Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission, the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions, the Auditor-General’s office and the National Intelligence Service – are enough to wage a winnable war on corruption and its agencies.
If we are squeamish and uncertain, we risk losing the plot.
An enduring principle or term of engagement is to be bold and decisive; engaging in a protracted exercise only serves to give perpetrators a chance to recover and regroup. For example, the demolition of buildings on riparian and illegally-acquired public land should have proceeded in a relentless, unceasing volley so that the culprits do not get a chance to compromise those in the taskforce, or engage in silly sideshows that involve a vain invocation of the name of God.
Last month, disgraced National Land Commission chair Mohamed Swazuri dropped his arrogance like a bad habit and (by way of a poorly disguised letter to Chief of staff Joseph Kinyua) set about begging and issuing threats – to the effect that he has dirt on government top honchos, which he will unleash unless the charges against him are dropped. The question on may people’s lips is why he did not make those revelations earlier when he had the full mandate of NLC chair. It was a daft attempt at fake prudishness that must not be entertained.
Equally disgraceful was a decision by two formers IEBC commissioners, Margaret Mwachanya and Connie Maina, to “return to work”, after resigning about five months ago. enough has been said and written about that shameful spectacle, but it goes on to demonstrate the shenanigans that bedevil public office. There is no honour.
The state must secure convictions, and culprits must be seen to pay. If this does not happen, it would all have been mere drama, and Kenyans will never learn to trust systems again.
Accountability ought to be immediate
This calls for an attitude change. Before public servants become subjects of investigation, they usually would have been subjects of forensic and criminal audits by several state agencies. It then follows that, eight times out of 10, there is enough evidence to prove complicity.
The honourable thing would be for accused persons to step down from positions of responsibility, to allow either a conclusion of investigations, or an initiation of legal processes. This is the honourable thing to do. The appointing powers must demand it, and Kenyans must comply.
At the end of the day, the surest way to measure victory is to show tangible results. The prosecution must secure convictions, and culprits must be seen to be punished. If this does not happen, it would all have been one elaborate drama, and Kenyans will never learn to trust systems again.
The DPP must secure watertight convictions of people who have until now been “untouchable”. This will have the effect of assuring punishment for offenders of similar crimes, whether big or small, and demonstrating to Kenyans that when applied, laws and systems do work. If this can happen, the sons of anarchy will fall like dominoes; anything else and it would have been one big time-waste.
In parting, all these things must be done within the strictest confines of existing law and regulations; the provisions therein are broad enough to accommodate every one of us.