Is President Uhuru Kenyatta vision for Corruption-free Kenya a distant mirage?

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By Blamuel Njururi, Kenya Confidential Editor-in-Chief, Nairobi – November 13, 2018

From the commission charged with the responsibility in the fight against corruption, Parliament’s premier oversight committee, the corridors of justice, and the security organs charged with the safety of this nation, Kenyans are witness to the betrayal of their trust

President Uhuru Kenyatta has more often than not sounded like a stuck gramophone record or a scratched CD repeating itself over and over, whenever he laments over the evils of Corruption in Kenya. Many well-healed Kenyan executives in public and private sector are not bothered about corruption as they brush shoulders with gluttonous tycoons whose favourite dish is corruption.

Indeed, to the keen political observers, Uhuru has become a lone ranger in the fight against Corruption except for his Interior Cabinet Secretary Dr Fred Matiang’i, who has shown in action and deed that the socio-economic national menace can be tamed albeit through dedicated determination. The offices of the Directors of Criminal Investigations and Public Prosecution have shown fresh gusto in the war on  Corruption but the judiciary is lethargic. Kenyans are waiting to see a direct link between Corruption investigations, prosecutions and committal to jail along with recovery of stolen money plus graft assets.

The massive deployment of government machinery to oversee primary and secondary exams is a clear illustration of how deeply entrenched Corruption is and the sheer determination that drives graft in Kenya. After deploying thousands of Ministry of Education staff, National Examination Council top cream, detachments of Kenya Police Service officers, there still are numerous Kenyans determined to perpetrate Exam cheating because it had become a multi-million-shillings business for decades. So are many other facets of Corruption.

No other person seems to capture the demonic nature of Corruption than President Uhuru himself. During his State of the Nation address on March 26th, 2015 (three and half years ago) before a joint sitting of the National Assembly and the Senate, he had the following to say;

“There is no doubt that Kenya is firmly on the path of transformation. However, my administration and this nation are confronted by both the reality and perception of pervasive corruption. As I have stated previously, and as warrants emphasis, corruption is the greatest threat to our security, fundamental rights and social-economic transformation.

I share in the frustration of Kenyans at the slow pace and lack of results from the mechanisms created to help us tackle with this monster.

When I spoke to the Nation on the eve of the New Year, I assured Kenyans that in 2015, my administration will deal firmly with corruption.

I have continuously engaged with all institutions charged with the responsibility to deal with corruption, and firmly expressed my expectations, and the people’s desire, that their respective mandates are executed robustly, urgently and without fear or favour.

I pledged my administration’s full support, as well as my own personal support, to any actions that will reverse the course of this cancer eating at the soul of our motherland. Rather than unite against this common enemy of our people, these institutions have elected to be mired in personal and institutional conflicts that have chipped away at their legitimacy and brought disrepute to the State.

From the commission charged with the responsibility in the fight against corruption, Parliament’s premier oversight committee, the corridors of justice, and the security organs charged with the safety of this nation, Kenyans are witness to the betrayal of their trust.

When our Treasury was processing our first sovereign bond, this country was forced to settle a foreign court judgement to pay shadowy entities 1.4 billion Kenya shillings. When I addressed the nation on this matter, I pledged that my government would do everything in its power to ensure that we recover all that was due to the Republic.

From that moment, I took a personal interest and asked to be briefed on a regular basis of the progress on Anglo Leasing related investigations. My administration also supported the investigating authorities in obtaining support from a number of friendly foreign governments.

These investigations bore fruit. However, obstacles have appeared threatening the prosecution of the perpetrators. The Ethics and Anti Corruption Commission is now embroiled in infighting and finger-pointing, a state of affairs likely to cripple the investigative capacity of the institution with the likely outcome of subverting the course of justice. From reports I have received, I strongly believe that this is a further attempt to subvert the successful prosecution of the Anglo Leasing cases.

As I have indicated, constitutional officer holders, State Officers and every public servant, are bound by the values enshrined in our Constitution. They are required to uphold the highest standards of personal integrity in the discharge of their official functions.

In view of the oath of office that I took as the President of this republic, let it be known that today I draw the line. No one will stand between Kenyans and what is right in the fight against corruption and other monstrous economic crimes.

I have asked the Attorney General to liaise with the Council on Administration of Justice to focus on coordination within the Justice, Law and Order sector. The Council must ensure the efficient and speedy processing of corruption-related cases, including hearing such cases on a daily basis.

I direct the Attorney General to review the legislative and policy framework to ensure the effective discharge of Constitutional imperatives related to integrity.

Three weeks ago, I issued Executive Order Number Six (6) on Ethics and Integrity in the Public Service. In it, I directed any civil servants to get in touch with my Office should they receive any pressure to engage in unethical or illegal conduct regardless of the status of person pressuring them to do so. I want to reiterate this personal commitment, which is also provided for in the Constitution.”

(Three years on the Head of Civil Service appears to have developed communication challenge with senior government officers some of them holding sensitive security-related portfolios. Many can no longer penetrate the thick wall of bureaucracy that has engulfed State House and the Office of the President where key pillars are busy making hay before the sunset.)

The President went on, “The latest report I have received from the Ethics and Anti Corruption Commission contains a catalogue of allegations of high-level corruption touching on all arms and levels of Government. It is the view of the CEO of the Ethics and Anti Corruption Commission that the institution and especially its Secretariat are under siege because of the nature of the cases they are currently investigating. I know that Parliament is seized of this matter and urge them to deal with it expeditiously.

Today, I take the extra-ordinary step of attaching the afore-mentioned confidential report from the CEO of the Ethics and Anti Corruption Commission as an annex to my annual report on Values to Parliament.

(b) Consequently, I hereby direct that all Officials of the National and County governments that are adversely mentioned in this report, whether you are a Cabinet Secretary, Principal Secretary, or Chief Executive of a state institution, to immediately step aside pending conclusion of the investigations of the allegations against them. I expect the other arms of Government, namely the Legislature and the Judiciary, to do the same.

(c) The investigating authority must ensure that the Director of Public Prosecutions has received the subject files without delay.

(d) I also want to caution that this should not be an open-ended process; justice must be expeditious, as justice delayed is justice denied. Therefore, this exercise should be concluded within the next 60 days.

(e) Let me reiterate that it is not my place to determine the guilt or otherwise of any of the people mentioned in the said report or any other. However, the time has come to send a strong signal to the country that my administration will accept nothing less than the highest standard of integrity from those that hold high office.”

(More than one year later during the State House Summit on October 28, 2016, a frustrated President Uhuru challenged the outgoing EACC CEO Halake Waqo to explain why his report had yielded nothing and a tongue-tied anti-corruption boss had nothing to offer – making a fool of the President as he quipped, Mnataka nifanye nini jameni. I saw a very frustrated man talking to characters who did not care at all – some of them taking bribes on a daily basis.)

Honourable Members, the President told Members of Parliament and Senators,

“In view of Parliament’s oversight role, and its representation of the people, I would be remiss not to express the disquiet caused by recent events that cast aspersions on Parliament. As a previous Member, I urge you, Honourable Members, to take all measures to urgently restore the dignity and integrity of Parliament. This is essential for an institution whose effective performance is a cornerstone of our democracy.”

(Recent Corruption claims in both the National Assembly and the Senate, President Uhuru must understand in no uncertain terms that members of both Houses are not with him in his current fight on Corruption. No MP or Senator has started any anti-corruption awareness campaign in their respective area because they are beneficiaries what the president calls greatest threat to our security, fundamental rights and social-economic transformation – this cancer eating at the soul of our motherland. Most of them are busy campaigning for vice president William Ruto bid for Presidency come 2022 and not Uhuru’s War on Corruption, which they consider to be a diversionary to their core mission as politicians – accumulate as much money as they can drain from Public Coffers).

The war on corruption will not be won unless all arms and levels of government play their role and uphold the highest levels of integrity and act decisively against any perpetrator of corruption.’

Fellow Kenyans, the President went on,

“There is no challenge, no obstacle that is too great for us to overcome. An indomitable Kenyan spirit has seen this Nation secure its freedom and grow from small beginnings to become a vibrant democratic and multicultural society that is on an unstoppable path towards even greater progress and prosperity, as well as standing bold and strong in the face of seemingly insurmountable challenges.

My administration will continue to personify this indomitable Kenyan spirit. Our commitment to Kenya remains the same: to bring about fundamental positive change in all areas of our national life, in a sustainable and irreversible manner, across the length and breadth of the entire Country, without regard to gender, age, religion, colour or ethnicity.”

(That noble appeal from a man anxious to leave behind a legacy of patriotic nationalistic leader fell on deaf ears. No politician took any interest in fighting corruption from March 2015 to date. Many still believe the current wave against corruption is a passing cloud that will soon clear for them to make hay while the sun shines.)

The president concluded, “Our Beloved Nation is well on the path to greater heights. Through our collective effort, our democracy is growing and maturing while our fundamental rights and freedoms are entrenched and safe. The social, economic, and political gains that have been made are cemented and are now irreversible. While a lot of hard work still remains to be done we have a lot to be proud of, a lot to be grateful for.

Honourable Speakers, Ladies and Gentlemen,

The state of the Nation is strong. Let the love for our Country be our guiding light in all that we do. God bless you and God Bless Kenya.”

Retrospectively, President Uhuru must search his soul and decide whether any senior public officer close to him, who heard his March 2015, has contributed anything towards his fight against Corruption.

Does he get the weekly or even monthly reports on Corruption he asked his Chief of Staff to be providing? Do members of public have access to him? Do reports on Corruption and ideas of curbing graft from members of the public ever reach him? Is he convinced that those around him have the same interest in the welfare of our motherland as he perceives it?

Why do government promises to Kenyans take years to be fulfilled or are never executed until members of public raise them at public fora? Why is his government so disjointed even after forming multi-agency formations to create synergy?

If the president has no quick and honest answers to those questions, his fight against Corruption is founded on quick sad and destined to be doomed.

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