Has Uhuru finally woken up?

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Former Treasury CS Henry Rotich when he was arraigned for corruption and abuse of office.

By Boniface Mwangi

For seven years, President Uhuru Kenyatta led Kenya with his head buried in the sand as looting went on all around him. He gave repetitive speeches, issued empty threats, launched a website to report corruption and then deleted it, talked tough on social media about fighting corruption and then deleted all his accounts. He promised lifestyle audits and polygraph tests that were never implemented. We got used to his ‘all bark with no bite’ routine. This week, however, someone was bitten, someone so powerful that, had it not been July 22, we would have thought it was April Fool’s day. The arrest and charging of Finance Minister, Henry Rotich, and others, was a brave move.

Now you don’t start a war and then stop midway. You go all out and destroy everyone and everything that represents corruption. You jail friends, allies and even family. That’s how to secure a legacy.

I support fully the war against corruption, but l am a cautious person; prosecution doesn’t equate to conviction. We have seen witnesses against powerful people threatened, bribed, forced to recant their testimonies and some even killed. In the recent past, a Supreme Court judge, Philip Tunoi, was bribed to acquit a guilty, powerful governor. Uhuru Kenyatta took the report implicating the judge and buried it. The judge quietly retired. In the past, the president has gone out of his way to protect and shield people accused of corruption from prosecution.

So, here is my advice to President Kenyatta if maybe, just maybe, he is keen on dismantle the corruption network. Firstly, he must walk his talk. Our jails are still full of petty offenders while wealthy and politically connected economic saboteurs walk free. We can be revolutionary and go the Guatemala way. Guatemalans were tired of corruption and they persistently took to the streets. They jailed their Vice President and their Congress (Parliament) moved very quickly to impeach the President and deprived him of immunity from prosecution. 

Guatemala formed The International Commission against Impunity in Guatemala CICIG (the equivalent of our toothless EACC) and got an independent foreigner with integrity to head it. The cartels in Guatemala were extremely powerful and violent, but they were defeated. They are kept at bay by the anger of the people, the partnership of Guatemala and UN, and a new government led by Jimmy Morales, who won on the slogan “I am not Corrupt and I am not a Thief!” He hasn’t been very clean himself, but he has tried. Uhuru is no saint either. Kenya’s parliament will not impeach Uhuru and he can use that as an advantage to secure his legacy by slaying the corruption dragon.

Uhuru is no saint either, but Kenya’s parliament will not impeach him and he can use that to his advantage to secure his legacy by slaying the corruption dragon.

Secondly, he can spearhead the implementation of the Truth, Justice, and Reconciliation (TJRC) Report, recover of stolen public money and property listed in the Kroll Report, and implement of the Ndung’u Commission Report on the illegal and irregular allocation of public land.

Thirdly, the President can give an order for wealth declarations of public officers to be made public, including his own, for scrutiny by citizens. Those found to have lied in their declarations should be fired from their jobs, prosecuted in the public interest and any unexplained wealth seized by the state.

Uhuru should cure the myths he has created that the fight against corruption is as complex as rocket science. He should fumigate his own house and rid it of corrupt officials. Government corruption can only be dealt a death blow if the Head of State and Government resolves to constitute and lead an a clean administration. He must resolve his own paradox of enjoying almost zero opposition in the National Assembly, particularly after the so-called handshake, yet, ironically, he is unable to get his serial anti-corruption promises fulfilled.

Fourthly, he should constitute a well-paid and equipped anti-corruption team of investigators and prosecutors, independent of the Executive and political interference. The President, after the handshake, enjoys almost zero opposition politically. He must reform the law to allow corruption and economic crimes to be heard at the High Court by specialist judges. The cases should be expedited to minimise witness tampering, intimidation, and hiding of stolen assets.

Finally, he must reward and protect whistle blowers and offer blanket amnesty to anyone who helped hide stolen money and becomes a witness against the thieves; in fact, he can even give them a percentage of anything they help recover. Use the mafia to fight the mafia, as it were! All Chief Financial Officers from the past five years should be persons of interest to the State; they know how, where and when money was stolen. That poorly paid police officer is a witness to how the leaders they protect are robbing us. Woe unto the politician if their trusted bodyguard decides to do something.

This article was first posted on the author’s Facebook page

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