By Blamuel Njururi, Kenya Confidential Editor-in-Chief, Nairobi – June 24, 2018
Kenyans faithfully cling to a Man-eat-Man society tag they were given by the late Tanzanian President Julius Kabarage Nyerere in 1971. Corruption is worshiped as shortcut to riches and a way of life handed over from generation to generation. They must stop that
The arrest of the Kenya Bureau of Standards (KEBS) Managing Director Charles Ongwae and nine departmental heads is a very welcome sting operation involving senior public officers suspected of aiding the scourge of corruption in Kenya. KEBS is a multi-billion-shilling corruption haven.
The same should be extended to other agencies that deal with importation, clearance and quality control of huge variety of counterfeit, defective and poisonous merchandise imported into the Kenyan market every year. They have enriched themselves at the expense of fellow citizens lives, who are dying of new diet-related diseases on the increase and on our roads from vehicles fitted with defective spare parts and jua kali fabricated Public Service Vehicles.
The Kenyan market is flooded with imports of counterfeit spare parts, electronic goods, leather products, substandard fertilizer and many other industrial and consumer products found with fake KEBS stamps. Many of the officers entrusted with the responsibility of ensuring that such goods are of good quality and enter Kenya legally lead an extra-large lifestyle nourished by organised criminal cartels that are driven by corruption.
Ongwae told Kenyans that the contraband sugar impounded in the county “has no mercury, but high content of Copper and Lead” contrary to claims by the Interior minister Fred Matiang’i. That was to say he saw nothing wrong with Kenyans consuming Copper and Lead.
However, if you drink water that contains high levels of copper, you can experience nausea, vomiting, stomach cramps, or diarrhea. Intentionally high intakes of copper can cause liver and kidney damage and even death. Tea is cooked with water and its drinking is intentional.
Young children are particularly vulnerable to the toxic effects of lead and can suffer profound and permanent adverse health effects, particularly affecting the development of the brain and nervous system. Lead also causes long-term harm in adults, including increased risk of high blood pressure and kidney damage. Young children drink tea sweetened with sugar as do adults.
The corruption haven KEBS managing director, never known to have unearthed any major merchandise import scandal, was pouring scorn on interior Cabinet Secretary Matiang’i, who cleaned the Ministry of Education of exam cheating cartels that had operated for decades wrecking and putting into disrepute the country’s education internationally. That is because Matiang’i is a threat to multi-billion-shilling cash cows in the corruption industry.
Ongwae comes out as a man who does not care about Kenyans, including his family and relatives, suffering from life-threatening toxic effects from sugar laced with chemical poison. His statement described as “new revelations” by Kenya’s irresponsible media deepened the controversy surrounding the “poisonous sugar’ already flooded in the Kenyan markets.
While appearing before the National Assembly Committee on Trade, Ongwae said KEBS had conducted a chemical test on the said sugar and there was no mercury detected. On the same breath he hastened to say KEBS had no idea how any Mercury-laced sugar had entered Kenya.
During the so-called “revelations”, he added, “imported sugar is inspected by KEBS agents in the country of origin”. He revealed majority of sugar has been inspected at the country of origin. The tested parameters are within the Kenyan standard”. Which foreign exporters agent cares about Kenya standards?
Ongwae said after the tests are done out there, they are issued with a certificate of conformity meaning he was comfortable with foreigners, he does not even know, certifying sugar conformed with KEBS standards and it was pointless checking the quality of such sugar on arrival on the Kenyan soil – a job he is paid by Kenya taxpayers to do. Kenyans whose lives he is willing to compromise to enrich himself.
What caliber of public servant is Ongwae? How different is he from students who rely on examination cheating and copy answers from cheats never using their brains? How does he supervise those below him when he can’t think of dangers posed by poisonous foodstuffs and counterfeit products being consumed or used in Kenya – his motherland?
Unfortunately for Kenyans Ongwae is typical example of thousands of Public Servants and business people in Kenya today. They have no passion for the jobs they hold other than for the end of month salary and potential financial benefits from corruption in form of cash and expensive gifts. That is how most of Principal Secretaries, their section heads and senior officers live. Some business people are only after money regardless of the damage they inflict on their Motherland economy.
They have contributed a great deal in growing a huge population living in poverty as a result of growing unemployment because of death of local industries in Kenya. They have also succeeded in allowing importation merchandise that can be produced locally thereby creating jobs for Asian and Chinese industries at the expense of Kenyans and turning the young generation against their government. They also sabotage economic growth by banking their money in offshore accounts to build foreign economies.
The same applies to Corporate CEOs in private and public institutions. That is why senior officers in the Banking industry will steal billions of shillings at the expense of unsuspecting customers. They will also allow money stolen from public coffers to be laundered as they enjoy huge commissions and bribes. And, of late, they want the interest capping removed to loot more in the true spirit of man-eat-man business ideology.
So are Senior Civil Servants in the ranks of Principal Secretaries, Departmental Heads Managing Directors, who now call themselves Chief Executive Officers (CEO) Parastatal Heads, they think they carry Kenya on their shoulders and are the only ones who can decide its fate. Public participation and citizens lore on governance, they think, is not worth the Constitution it is written on. They consider themselves as the custodians of public knowledge – no other citizens. They live, dream and driven aound in chauffer-driven fuel guzzling Mercedes cars.
The KEBS officials arrest came less than 24 hours after Citizens Against Corruption National Coordinator Blamuel Njururi had posted the following Twitter –
@ODPP_KE @DCI_Kenya @EACCKenya Section heads in Kenya Bureau of Standards, Anti-Counterfeit Agency, Kenya Revenue Authority, National Intelligence and Ports police directly linked to killer and counterfeit merchandise importation clearance must go home – https://www.facebook.com/MwanaMzalendo/ Kenyans expect more heads to roll.
Kenyans faithfully cling to a Man-eat-Man society tag they were given by the late Tanzanian President Julius Kabarage Nyerere in 1971. Corruption is worshiped as shortcut to riches and a way of life and handed over from generation to generation. They must stop that.
Some of the children of the first President Mzee Jomo Kenyatta cabinets are as corrupt as their fathers were. People who cannot point a finger at any riches their grandfathers endowed upon their fathers but can proudly point at huge tracts of land their fathers grabbed as senior government operatives. They also run businesses their fathers started when Kenyatta regime allowed civil servants to engage in business.
Some have said no to that life. Former Head of Civil Service Geoffrey Kariithi’s son gave up a lucrative job of running a bank his father started and went to preach in a church he built along Kiambu Road. The son of another former Head of Civil Service saw no value of living in sin. He committed suicide. Many others live in hell on earth.
There is an old adage that “One cannot serve two masters”. Civil Servants must from now henceforth, choose to either serve the public or run their businesses. Catholic fathers are honest to their celibacy oath all their lives and those who opt out do it publicly to run a family as President Uhuru Kenyatta’s uncle George Muhoho did.
Uhuru should not only conduct public officers lifestyle audit but also repeal the 1971 Duncan Ndegwa Commission recommendation that they should engage in business. Time has proved that the two roles are incompatible.
The Lifestyle Audit should be an opportunity for Kenyans to transform from a Man-eat-Man Society into a caring Civilized Society. It will not be a walk in the park because corruption is a trillion shilling industry and will fight back viciously.
Patriotic Kenyans must stand firm to win the battle over Merchants of Death driving the Man-eat-Man ideology. They must realize it is not about ethnicity – no one steals for his or her tribe. Corruption is personal – Mwizi ni Mwizi.
President Uhuru has sworn with the Almighty God that Corruption will end in Kenya. He told Kenyans “Haki ya Mungu, Ufisadi utakwisha Kenya” (true to God, Corruption will end in Kenya). Uhuru knows the power of prayer. It saved him from the jaws of International Criminal Court (ICC) and aided his victory in three Presidential elections.
Nothing stands in the Way of God. God Bless Kenya.