Kenya’s President Uhuru Kenyatta finally threw in the towel and conceded that there was nothing he could do to fight corruption in his Jubilee government and Kenya writ large.
During the “State House Summit On Governance And Accountability”, the man whose extensive familial wealth supposedly inoculated him from the scourge that has bedeviled Kenya since his father Jomo opened the government for (personal) business deflected responsibility and accountability for the corruption that is rife in his government to everyone else but himself.
Mr. Kenyatta slammed the Legislature, Judiciary and the Constitution. He even took a shot at an absent John Githongo (Kenya’s first anti-corruption czar) and some hapless panelist whose name he, President Kenyatta, allegedly couldn’t remember, for asking pointed questions.
Conspicuously missing from the summit was President Kenyatta’s former crimes-against-humanity comrade-in-arms and self-proclaimed “hustler“Deputy President William Ruto. I will leave it up to the pundits to discuss why he did not attend the meeting.
Kenyatta, at whose office the buck supposedly stops, whined that he had “done his part “and asked “people (implicated in corruption scandals) to step aside“, supposedly at “great political risk “to himself.
Overlooked in the president’s self-congratulatory contortion is that his deputy Mr. William Ruto, who has been implicated in more than one scandal DURING his deputy presidency, is still safely ensconced in office.
Also overlooked by the so-called “good man“ who is unfortunately surrounded by “bad people“ is that it took him a lifetime (in political terms) to acquiesce to his Secretary of Planning and Devolution Ms. Anne Waiguru’s request for “lighter duties“ after yet another round of millions went missing from the department.
The latest episode of gross malfeasance under Mr. Kenyatta’s presidency involves the alleged misappropriation of KSh.5Billion (~$50Million) intended for free maternity care in hospitals across the country; a cause near and dear to the First Lady Margaret Kenyatta.
The electronic payment system at the Ministry of Health was manipulated to make double payments to vendors and divert funds to individuals and private companies.
And the clincher?
The individuals and private companies implicated in the scandal are respectively members of the president’s immediate and extended family and companies associated with them.
This latest in a long and odious string of scandals since Jubilee took office now has the party faithful crying foul. To paraphrase a good friend, the family dog has finally created a hole big enough for the hyena to enter the compound and devour the family livestock! If ever there was an apt metaphor for Uhuru Kenyatta’s stewardship of Kenya over the last 3+ years, this is it.
This article, yet another one detailing corruption and gross malfeasance during President Uhuru Kenyatta tenure, was prompted by a colleague who wanted to know if I was one of those “band of brothers” who thought Opposition Leader Raila Odinga is the answer to corruption in Kenya.
Without waiting for my response, the colleague went on to “forewarn“(his very word) me that if my answer was “Yes“, then “all (my) credibility and passion for a corruption-free Kenya simply vanishes. Poof!!!! “
It was a sad but telling exchange on corruption in Kenya between two ostensibly intelligent, rational and concerned citizens: It was also an exchange akin to one I had before the ill-fated 2007 Presidential Elections that birthed the post-election violence. In that exchange with a different colleague, I was asked how the-then foreboding Raila win “would benefit me“.
In responding to the question re: whether I was one of those who thought RAO was the solution to corruption in Kenya, I offered that were he in office and corruption was at its current level, my criticism of Raila would be even more relentless and biting given his self-proclaimed brand. I added that the fact that I had to point out what should have been elemental was a sad commentary on Kenya’s political discourse; only made worse by the fact that I had to point that out to someone who usually waxed eloquently about ethics and spirituality.
Given his already-implied position re: Raila’s ability to fight corruption, my colleague proceeded to offer a rather Chinua Achebe-esque response by congratulating President Kenyatta – for doing his job i.e. organizing a summit to confront corruption!
On how the illusory and non-existent Raila win of 2007 was going to benefit me, someone else bitingly asked the questioner to tell those gathered how Jomo’s and Kibaki’s presidency benefitted HIM. The questioner quietly slinked away sans any response.
The foregoing sequence of exchanges offers a window into the cognitive dissonance that is Kenya’s fight against corruption. The scourge, just like tribalism, is fully embedded in the country’s DNA. Not surprisingly, President Uhuru Kenyatta has followed in his predecessors’ “nyayos“ or footsteps and allowed family and friends to partake in “matunda ya uhuru“; an inevitable outcome given the non-existent firewall between political office and personal business interests in Kenya.
Given the amount of money at stake and the inability of Kenya’s nascent, weak and malleable institutions (legislature, judiciary, law enforcement etc.) to act as honest brokers, the reaction of Kenyans to the struggle for the presidency offers a textbook definition of projection as well-intentioned people reveal their true raison d’etre for pursuing and fighting to retain political office and power.
With Kenya’s elections fast-approaching, Uhuru Kenyatta’s war on corruption that Mr. Githongo calls the “theatre of the absurd“and his myriad other failures have not compelled a tipping point of Kenyans to look for leadership outside their respective ethnic cocoon and away from a government led by scion of a dynasty whose patriarch first created the hole in the fence for his cronies to devour the family livestock.
“Because Raila will ‘nefa’ be President“.