Kabuga mystery and all the other ghosts of the past that haunt Kenya
I don’t know why anybody would be surprised that one of the most wanted men in the world should have found safe refuge in Kenya.
I expressed the hope early on after President Kibaki succeeded President Moi that we were going to witness a sea-change and not merely an exchange of one set of thieves for another. My optimism, and that of millions of Kenyans, proved misplaced.
The Kibaki administration made a lot of noise initially about zero-tolerance approach to corruption and all that. But then it very happily inherited nearly everything that was dirty from the kleptocratic Moi regime.
It inherited the Goldenberg, Anglo-Leasing and associated scandals by which powerful nabobs lined their pockets at the expense of you and me.
It also inherited mutually beneficial links with the money-men out of Somalia who acted as financiers and bankers for terrorism, and we are now paying the price.
The Kibaki administration also inherited one Felicien Kabuga, a man responsible for human butchery in Rwanda on a grand scale and who might well have had a few tips to offer on how to exterminate human beings like cockroaches.
The full story on how the mass murderer was offered refuge in Kenya is still to be told, but I was quite surprised to learn that his blood-stained self may have been in the country as recently as 2009.
That is because I have always had this theory that Kabuga’s protectors may have dispatched him to his maker when he became too much of a liability with the change of guard in 2003.
One of the big puzzles about the Kabuga story has always been the January 2003 killing of freelance journalist and FBI informant, Michael Munuhe.
A fellow with close links to a Moi-era permanent secretary believed to protect Kabuga, Munuhe was found dead in his room just before he led American FBI agents to the Rwandan genocidaire.
Kenyan CID investigators assigned to manage the cover-up neglected to explain the origin of the large amounts of blood all over Munuhe’s room.
If the blood was not Munuhe’s, whose was it? My own theory was that it could very well have been Kabuga’s, who may have become unwanted excess baggage at the time of transition to a new regime.
Of course, this may be a fanciful theory, but the more important thing is that there are people in the Kibaki administration who know where Kabuga is, or can at least provide information on how he was sheltered here under the Moi regime and what happened afterwards.
But nobody will betray those confidences because they are all co-conspirators. And the real tragedy is that even when I look at the whole galaxy of charlatans tripping over each other’s feet in the race to succeed President Kibaki, all I see is a bunch of fellows who differ only on whose turn it is to occupy State House, whose turn it is to eat.
Most would happily jump into bed with Kabuga if he promised some votes or bagfuls of cash. None of the candidates so far persuades me that he or she offers transformational leadership and full-speed ahead for a sputtering reform process.
Just this weekend, Prime Minister Raila Odinga seemed to be busy wooing ex-President Moi while in the same breath has was extolling his reformist credentials.
As he talked reform, his chief cheerleader parroting the same words happened to be one Henry Kosgey, a holdover from the Moi regime, who seems to have the opposite of the Midas Touch.
Former Sunday Nation insurance columnist, the late Greg Mwangi, once wrote that Mr Kosgey must be a genius. His take was that it could only be a very clever man who could bring down a giant like the Kenya National Assurance Company with the speed seen under Mr Kosgey’s watch.
The man Mr Odinga is relying on to lead his campaign against the William Ruto juggernaut in the northern Rift Valley represents another face of the impunity and wilful destruction prevalent under the Moi era.
If Mr Odinga wants to project himself as the face of reform, he must choose his friends and allies very carefully.