By Blamuel Njururi, Editor in Chief, Kenya Confidential – Nairobi, May 9, 2017
Uhuru’s war on corruption is a big threat to the corrupt wheel dealers, brokers and drugs kingpins driving graft in Central and County governments
As the clock ticks towards August 8th General Election I am getting increasingly convinced that there people very close to President Uhuru Kenyatta who would like him out because of his war on corruption. Those people comprise four categories of individuals greatly worried that Uhuru is hell bent to mess their Ksh 1 Billion enterprise when it is moving full throttle and has established 47 branches (in Counties) that are hardly four years old.
The four categories are to be found in (a) the Public Service Commission, (b) the National Police Service Commission (c) the Judiciary and of course (d) public sector tenderpreneurs, drugs and a host of other criminal cartels. The four categories are deeply concerned that the Uhuru-led war on graft augurs disaster to their deeply rooted multi-billion-shilling enterprises.
The Public Service Commission hosts the drivers of official corruption that viciously gulps a third of the National Budget that stands at a Trillion shillings out of the current figure of Ksh 3 trillion budget. Uhuru’s war on corruption is a big threat to the corrupt wheel dealers, brokers and kingpins driving graft in all Central and County governments’ offices. It is in their interest some of whom are in the Office of the President, including State House, in Uhuru’s own admission, that the wheels on the war machine he is riding are deflated.
Many argue that if they planted their graft tree during 24 years of Daniel autocratic rule with its host of corruption deals with Goldenberg International bumper harvest, watered the tree with Mwai Kibaki’s frequent sprinkles of Triton and bumper gush in Anglo Leasing, Uhuru has no business messing up with their financial gardening. They trust that they operate with the 1971 window opened by Duncan Ndegwa for civil servants to engage in private business – and indeed corruption is private business.
Corrupt police service crooks also would be a happy lot if Uhuru was dislodged to stop meddling with a business sanctioned by his own father when he was president and told them watumie crown ya kofia (use the crown on their caps to make ends). Mzee Jomo Kenyatta had no idea that MPesa would make police cash minting such an easy job and many would be millionaires in a matter of months as Traffic officers, Directorate of Criminal Investigations officers among others. To many police vetting has shown clearly that Uhuru wants to roll back gains and benefits enjoyed since his father and later Ndegwa allowed them to even operate matatu PSVs. It is not in their interest that Uhuru continues as president.
The police loyalty to corruption was graphically demonstrated On October 18, 2016, by none other than Inspector General of Police Joseph Boinett when he threatened to arrest a matatu operator who blatantly confessed, before the State House Corruption and Governance Summit that he had been bribing police officers every morning in Nairobi.
John Macharia, in a bid to illustrate how deep rooted corruption was in the matatu industry, stated that he had always been parting with Sh800 for every trip he makes along the Kayole-Nairobi route and in return, police assist him in committing crime.
“Traffic police do not wake up to control traffic or do what they are mandated to do. They wake up in the morning to come and collect bribes from our buses,” Macharia firmly stated adding, “Some officers stop me, get into my vehicle and ask me, unataka kueka abiria wapi (where do you want to drop passengers)? Whether on the pavement, kwa stage or wherever…they assist me commit an offence”.
To the surprise of the audience who included President Uhuru himself, a seemingly angered Boinett immediately hit back stating that the driver ought to be behind bars for admitting to several crimes. “I wish I had time to arrest this guy because he has made several confessions. He should be in a police station heading to court,” the Inspector General stated boldly instead of soliciting for more details to pursue the corrupt police.
Inspector General Boinett threatened to arrest a matatu operator for exposing corruption at State House
Boinett’s remarks were, however, not taken kindly by the Independent Policing Oversight Authority (IPOA) Chairman Macharia Njeru who vowed to strongly defend the driver should the IG make good his threat. However, the senior most police officer had clearly exposed the mentality that drives corruption in the police service – punitive anger against those opposed to its corruption industry. How is such mentality expected to fight corruption?
The Judiciary has demonstrated beyond any reasonable doubt over the years that corruption is a component of great financial benefit to them. Some judges are quick to bar Ethics and Anti Corruption Commission (EACC) from freezing accounts suspected to hide millions of shillings in corruption proceeds. Orders barring EACC from freezing such accounts, allows corruption suspects to quickly transfer money to their lawyers, relatives and other trusted friends accounts. The orders also yield huge handshake handouts from the suspects to beef judges and magistrates accounts. The out of this world lifestyle led by some judicial officers speak volumes of their commitment to greed for cash.
Justice for cash in Kenya has been institutionalized for many years. Those with deep pockets easily buy freedom even from hangman’s noose. When former Limuru MP George Nyanja investigated mismanagement at then Kenya Power and Lighting Company (KPLC) that revealed massive corruption, managing director Samuel Gichuru went to court and walked out with an order expunging the report. Today he is fighting extradition order to face corruption and money laundering charges before a foreign court in Jersey.
Close to a billion shillings Gichuru had stolen will eventually be recovered. The sad part of the judicial corruption is that even those established to have been corrupt during vetting are only asked to go home – meaning corruption pays and they cant understand why Uhuru wants to make their lives difficult.
The drugs, human and game trophies trafficking and money laundering cartels would like Uhuru out of power yesterday. In Kenya’s history, no president had the courage to confront drugs barons head-on to the extent of blowing up their ships in the high seas. Uhuru did that and subsequent extradition of sons of most notorious drugs baron Akasha to the United States demonstrated his seriousness on the drugs war. Such actions place the offending leader in great disfavour and drug barons in Kenya, Colombia, Pakistani and the Far East have no reason to loosened their purses and finance Uhuru’s ouster.
One of the harshest drug dealers critic Mohamed Ali of Jicho Pevu got a taste of their wrath during Orange Democratic Movement (ODM) nominations when he encountered drug dealers-bank-rolled supporters in every polling station assigned to bribe voters to block his nomination. He pointed an accusing finger towards Mombasa Governor Hassan Joho. Such exercise will be escalated upwards against Uhuru and voters will be bribed to vote for opposition candidate.
If the opposition coordinated support from these disgruntled corruption battalions and directed the munitions towards Uhuru, he would have no chance of survival. They have the reason, financial muscle and co-ordination ability. The only lacking ingredients under Kenya’s ethnic politics is harmonization and synchronization to cut through some of thick layers of tribal loyalties. However, corruption hurts across ethnic layers and eloquent delivery can have devastating effects on Uhuru’s re-election – forcing defeat or uncertain run-off riding on ant-corruption vote driven by anger over the ever escalating graft levels.
Among wheel dealers determined to show Uhuru the main gate out of State House is Dubai-based Jimmy Wanjigi, who Raila paid a business visit on his was back from Israel last week. Wanjigi is among bitter losers of billions of shilling worth of Chinese and energy mega contracts the moment Uhuru set foot at State House. The former George Saitoti financial wizard is able and willing to stake over a billion shillings on Raila Presidency bet and will finance it with as much. His mentor Kamlesh Pattning, who has multi-billion-dollars business enterprises in Dubal is also hoping the clock could turn backwards to Moi ear boom soon.
The opposition has a head start in an important segment of the voting population in Kenyan youth. Numerous surveys have shown that a majority of Kenyan youth consider corruption the way forward in their lives. They have never seen any government minister or permanent secretary punished for involvement in corruption since they were born. Many can and will register their protest against President Uhuru’s war on corruption come August 8th. Woe unto Uhuru if Raila Odinga turns the August 8th into Anti Corruption Referendum, he will be cooked by mid-day. Raila can easily enjoy support from both ends of those who want Uhuru out because he is fighting corruption and those who think he is not.
More Kenyans are aware of corruption than in any other time since independence
It comes as no shock to me that men Uhuru considers very close to him and who should be fighting for every vote for his re-election are least bothered whether he loses the presidential race on account of corruption or not. They are quick to set up appointments for president with so-called music, sports and fashion celebrities than explore ways of plugging potential heammorage of protest votes. If opposition played the corruption card well, Uhuru would be sent to Ishaweri on August 8th on a one-way ticket. There is plenty of ammunition to fire at massively gullible and ignorant electorate that would blame all their problems on corruption and vote against Uhuru.
The US government latest freeze on assistance to the health services in Kenya is timely additional ammunition to fire against Uhuru and drive potential voters against him. There may be more where that came from and woe unto Uhuru if it is released in rapid succession. The West is not and has not been in favour of Uhuru’s switch to China for so-called development assistance and they have reason to pay him with the same coin. Indeed the US envoy Robert F Godec made the announcement at the opposition stronghold headquarters of Kisumu City.
Citing concerns over reports of corruption in the Health Ministry, the US said that it would freeze its Ksh.2.1 billion contribution to the health kitty. It may not be long before some other Western governments tighten their aid purse strings.
“We took this step because of ongoing concern about reports of corruption and weak accounting procedures at the Ministry. The action is intended to ensure that health spending reaches those in need, and to protect US taxpayer money,” read a circular sent to newsrooms by US embassy.
US Ambassador: Paying Uhuru back with the same coin
Rival Presidential candidate Raila happily seized the opportunity to accuse the president’s relatives of being involved in the Ministry of Health multi-billion-shilling scandal he said Uhuru government was trying desperately to sweep under the carpet. The US move appears to have been calculated to give Raila a shield to protect himself against nepotism accusations after revelations that he had fronted his elder brother Oburu Raila for a seat in the East African Legislative Assembly (EALA). Oburu has since rescinded his ambition and withdrawn his application and announced his intention to quit active politics.
Worse Uhuru’s showing last year during Corruption and Governance State House Summit came close to Mombasa governor Hassan Joho “D” grade performance. At the summit, Uhuru strongly defended his efforts in the fight against corruption but pointed an accusing finger at officials of the Anti-Graft body. Right before him were men clad in suits who may have taken hundreds of millions of shillings in corruption deals to protect criminals.
The EACC officials in 2015 gave him a long list of corruption suspects none of whom has been successfully prosecuted or jailed – http://nairobiwire.com/2015/03/full-list-of-corrupt-officials-in-uhurus-list-of-shame.html. Many have been exonerated instead. Among those off the hook is former Lands Minister Charity Ngilu who fell victim of land cartels she was ruthlessly frustrating in her digitization programme. She has since been cleared of obstructing justice plastered on her when she refused to surrender original Ksh 8 billion Karen land for planned destruction. At the Summit Uhuru explained that his government had done more than all previous administrations since independence in fighting graft to a very skeptical audience.
The Head of State, however, set himself up on a path of stormy terrain when he remarked that he had done all within his power to stem corruption asking the audience what else they expected him to do. ”Mnataka nifenye nini jameni,” he asked in a desperate gasp. I could not help but feel pity for a man set up by his own system. The Summit was abruptly ended on the excuse that satellite time had expired.
Uhuru’s remarks were highly criticised from many quarters as they were taken to mean he was helpless in the fight against graft. What many Kenyans don’t know is that the President is indeed a hostage of corruption cartels even in State House – He is captive to what is referred to as the Third Force. There are people expected to fight corruption who are major beneficiaries of the thriving graft enterprise. They are multi-millionaires anxious to attain billionaire status by hook or crook. Corruption runs in very vein and artery of their bodies. Their hearts dance in joy at the sight of mercurial rise of their bank accounts and properties acquisition.
A document outlining an innovative way of tackling corruption I gave to State House spokesman Manoah Esipisu on the State House Summit day (October 18, 2016) has never reached him. I intended to hand it over to the President but he was smuggled out of the Summit tent before I could reach him.
Visit – www.citizensagainstcorruptionk.org
Esipisu reviewed on the document until December 13, 2016 then forwarded it to the Presidency Governance Unit headed by Pater Kariuki, who is sitting on it as you read this. I have sent him several emails, SMS messages and telephoned him until he stopped answering my calls.
After mounting and unceasing pressure he gave me an audience just before Easter. I made a presentation of the wide range of anti-corruption products capable of creating millions of jobs for Kenyan youths, women and disabled by manufacturing them on commercial basis. He even wondered whether some were done in Kenya. He promised to contact me after Easter but has yet to keep his promise on that.
Kariuki told me he would consult with Head of Civil Service and Uhuru’s Chief of Staff Joseph Kinyua who has never responded to an earlier document on anti-corruption gathering dust in his office since November 2015. Those are some of the people Uhuru is counting on helping him in the war against corruption. Kinyua spent the best years of his life in Treasury the irredeemable temple of government corruption in Kenya. To them corruption is perhaps a way of life in Kenya not worth losing sleep over or interfering with the President’s ever busy schedules.
That may explain why Principal Secretaries whose ministries were recently implicated in corruption were shuffled around instead of being sacked as popular demand dictated. As Chief of Staff, Kinyua did considerable damage to the president’s war on corruption when he advised him to play the Russian roulette without firing at anyone but only moving whimsical chairs around. That has been the traditional manner of spreading cancerous corruption cells through out the civil service body without remorse or remedy.
The concept contained in the document has been described by the Ethics and Anti Corruption Commission as the way forward but State House staff had rather sleep on it so that claims by critics and opposition that President Uhuru has no political will to fight corruption can gain credence. It appears that the President’s own men are sabotaging his efforts for fear that his actions will disrupt a trillion-shilling-enterprise since corruption gulps up a third of the national budget. They have reduced him into a harmless Corruption scare crow song-bird.
That is why he is advised to buy Ambulances with money recovered from corruption proceeds instead of redirecting such money to fight the social evil. Ambulances cannot fight corruption but public awareness can. Indeed, the under-funded EACC should be facilitated to expend its operations in every constituency to conduct more effective preventive and educational services. Purchase of ambulances can lead to diversion of cash if inflated as used to happen with CMC motors. Of course those advising on putting the money into diversionary expenditure are aware of the enormous harm such money can inflict if directed towards their evil enterprises.
Thousands of critical votes cast against Uhuru on account of corruption will be the direct consequence of his trusted men at State House and in his government who do not wish him to derail the gravy train. Many do not care whether he is re-elected or not because they have made a kill as his appointees or will move seamlessly into the next government as employees of the Public Service Commission as civil servants. Surely it makes no sense to some that Public Service is meant to benefit the public, not merely those serving the public.
But all is not lost. The initiative has been embraced by the IEBC and Religious Leaders with whom Citizens Against Corruption clusters will collaborate. Building blocks are being laid down to accommodate systematic involvement Youth, Women and Disability national Funds to empower respective groups in order to engage in the manufacture of anti-corruption products commercially.
The project will in time open up job opportunities for millions of youths and create industrial and technical opportunities for participating clusters as well as boost local raw materials production among a long value chain structure. The project is designed to reduce thousands of jobs in foreign countries created by the current insatiable appetite for importation of products that can be manufactured by Kenyan labour and save on the country’s meagre forex. Kenya must stop creating jobs for youths and women in Asia, The Far East and China by importing products easy to manufacture locally.
Political parties have recently demonstrated lip service to job creation by importing billions of shillings worth of campaign materials, including posters, T-shirts and other textile products, and thereby creating thousands of jobs in foreign countries when Kenyan youths are languishing in poverty and promises of jobs that will never materialize.
Read more about Uhuru’s top civil servants who think the war on corruption is not part of their docket. Otherwise why would a Principal Secretary, an accounting officer, in Office of the President with departments perpetually ranked as most corrupt, say there is no money for anti-corruption awareness and make no effort to ask for it?