By Ahmednasir Abdullahi, SC
The conjunctive efforts of the Director of Public Prosecutions Noordin Haji and his DCI counterpart George Kinoti have finally lent some credence to the Uhuru Kenyatta-led war against graft. Prior to their appointment, the only other time Kenyans had been this optimistic about defeating corruption was in the early days of Mwai Kibaki’s first term.
At that time, buoyed by the feel-good factor of a fresh regime, unity of purpose and a nasty hangover from the dark days of Daniel Moi, citizens were literally arresting corrupt public officers and frog-marching them to police stations for booking. At the national level, Kibaki convened the high stakes drama of the Goldberg Inquiry which was beamed live on national television and had previously untouchable characters like James Kanyotu and Joshua Kulei sweating in their pants. Thanks to the inquiry, others such as Nicholas Biwott lost their political careers never to recover.
“Tell him to resign!”
And when grand corruption reared its ugly head again in the Anglo Leasing Scandal, even the timid Kibaki threw a direct punch of his own.
He started with Chris Murungaru, first demoting him from the powerful Internal Security docket to the less glamorous Ministry of Transport only to drop him altogether like a hot potato in a cabinet reshuffle months later. He then turned his sword to his close friend David Mwiraria. Grapevine has it that when Mwiraria showed up at the State House main gate on February 2, 2006 seeking audience with his boss, Kibaki sent aides with instructions to ask him to go back and only return armed with his letter of resignation! Those who tell the tale say that he duly complied, and, on the same day in the afternoon, President Kibaki, with a ‘most heavy heart’, accepted it.
Mwiraria would spend the rest of his years fighting disease and barrage of court cases. Murungaru, meanwhile, relocated to rural home where he has since carved a niche as a formidable livestock farmer. Not a word has been heard from the powerful former Minister since!
Sadly, John Githongo resigned and the war gradually lost momentum. The political cost became too heavy to bear, Justice Bosire prostrated himself naked before the lords of impunity, the Goldenberg Inquiry became a circus and Triton came up. Before long, with elections looming, focus had been shifted to a constitutional review exercise that never yielded anything. People became bored.
With the past in mind, the pertinent question becomes, will the Uhuru-led assault suffer similar fate? Will Kinoti and Haji’s eyes remain firmly fixed on the ball or will they allow politics to take center-stage?.
For all the good work, so far, the signs are ominous. To begin with, just as it happened under Kibaki, political puppeteers have unleashed a disingenuous constitutional review process that is now dominating the news. Against this background, corrupt individuals have found a way of spinning off the fight as being politically motivated.
Conveniently, the peddlers of this false gospel fail to see that, like the proverbial saw that slices on either side, there is no particular pattern to Kinoti and Haji’s modus operandi- none, bar the fact that all their clients are people of questionable character.
The second bad sign is the shifting will of President Uhuru Kenyatta. While the he hasn’t hesitated in passing judgment and punishing most, he has been coy and mellow with those closest to him, as if warning them of an impending catastrophe and, for old time’s sake, begging them to step out of the way. Status notwithstanding, those who built on riparian land have faced the consequences of their actions.
Unfortunately, others, thanks to their political clout, continue to revel in the fruits of their illegality undistracted. Similarly, while the likes of Kazungu Kambi and Wilie Bett have been brought down from their lofty perch, Mwangi Kiunjuri is getting away with countless warnings.
Politics and impunity have also breached the safe walls of the Judiciary. Most surprisingly for instance, considering the gravity of the matter, crucial evidence in the Kenya Pipeline case has been lost. Equally surprising is how the Courts have bastardized the established rules of determining bail applications.
Even where due process is followed, many cases remain stuck at the applications stage. The sum effect of these is, erroneously, they cast the President and his marshals as only being interested in a public relations exercise. (