President Uhuru Kenyatta says he has fought corruption harder than his three predecessors.
The President offers a string of achievements, chief among them the prosecution of dozens of government officials, as his proof that he means what he says.
Opposition leader Raila Odinga holds the exact opposite position: President Kenyatta, he says, runs the most corrupt administration since independence.
The two sides of the political divide have been going at each other over money that Kenya borrowed from foreign lenders — popularly known as Eurobond — to fund infrastructure development.
Some of this money must have been stolen or has been hidden for hideous purposes in an elaborate scam that must be unearthed, claims Mr Odinga.
Your claims are baseless and are only aimed at self-serving politics and sabotaging the economy so that the government can fail in delivering its promise, retort Jubilee stalwarts.
Cord is showing no signs of let-up in its run-ins with Jubilee and now the Galana-Kulalu irrigation project has been earmarked as the next frontier of the showdown when the Eurobond fight finally settles.
“The push for good governance and accountability will no doubt intensify. We can recognise that Jubilee will pretend that they are not shaken but indeed they are,” said Cord leader Kalonzo Musyoka.
The Sunday Nation has learnt of details of a meeting chaired by Mr Odinga at his Capitol Hill offices early last week that shows an agreed pattern of aggression meant to keep the government on its toes even as it emerges that Jubilee has settled on a combination of court suits and firing back in the media to try and steal the thunder from them.
Cord’s plan is to taint Jubilee as having failed in delivering its election promises in a build-up campaign to next year’s elections.
Sources in Cord intimate that they will be holding a review meeting on Thursday to decide whether to continue with the Eurobond affair or introduce another subject so as to sustain the momentum.
“January is the month to strategise. We have had a number of informal caucuses that are all aimed at reminding Jubilee that they have breached their social contract with Kenyans. Watch this space,” the source said.
He did not wish to be named because he had not been authorised by his political fraternity to speak on their behalf.
Cord Management Committee co-chairman James Orengo told the Sunday Nation that unless they keep the momentum, the country’s economy will run aground.
“Unless we do this, history will judge us harshly. Those who will come after us will ask what we did to prevent the ongoing looting of public coffers,” he said.
But Senate Majority Leader Kithure Kindiki charges that Cord cannot play the moral megaphone on matters graft.
“They need to undertake internal cleansing as some of them are implicated in scandals of international scale. We will not take it lying down,” he said in what appears as aimed at Cord principal Moses Wetang’ula who has sued the BBC for claiming that BAT bought him an air ticket to the UK while he served as Trade minister in the Kibaki administration.
He says that by suspending members of his Cabinet linked to corruption in government, there can never be any clearer demonstration that Mr Kenyatta is committed to the fight.
“Since Kenya became a Nation-State, no single president has demonstrated in material and political will to fight corruption more than Uhuru Kenyatta. He has even warned Cabinet secretaries and principal secretaries that whoever engages in corrupt deals will be individually held responsible.”
The Cord-Jubilee tussle is never a one-sided battle and there are occasions during which one would think Jubilee will not match the opposition’s fire-power only for it to turn the tables against it.
The reverse is also true of the two diametrically opposed forces.
“Every missile they fire will be returned by 10 of equivalent magnitude if not greater,” the Tharaka-Nithi Senator declared.
Dr Joshua Kivuva, a political scientist at the University of Nairobi, explains why there is a clamour to control the anti-graft campaign by the two competing groups.
“They both know that such a crusade comes with some political mileage.”
He, however, casts serious doubts on the suitability of either camp to lead such a push.
“They are both corrupt. Just like Jubilee has its Eurobonds, NYS (reference to the Sh791 million stolen at the National Youth Service) Cord has its fair share of scandals when their leaders were in government.”
Meanwhile, the mention of Galana-Kulalu must really get into the nerves of Cabinet Secretary Eugene Wamalwa under whose docket it falls as the opposition trains its arsenal on him.
Cord’s concerted anti-graft campaign in the face of reports of loss of funds at the NYS led to the resignation of Devolution Minister Anne Waiguru despite having put up a spirited fight.
The rollout and implementation of the project has been riddled with controversy with the scheme producing only 10, 90kg bags of maize per acre instead of 40, prompting members of the Parliamentary Committee on Agriculture to question the viability of the Jubilee flagship project.
“There is a problem at Galana. One would be excused for thinking this is another cash cow. This could turn out to be another scandal,” said Mukurweini MP Kabando wa Kabando.
The MPs were not satisfied with the explanation given by the ministry, saying the best variety should have been identified when the feasibility study was done.
Sh1 billion was spent on Green Arava, an Israeli company, for the feasibility study alone.
It has, however, emerged that the government must sink in boreholes to supplement the available water.
A consortium of consultants hired by the government noted that the cost of the project could shoot to Sh1.45 trillion when the targeted one million acres are irrigated, as currently the 10,000-acre demo farm had consumed Sh14.5 billion.
The study report handed recently to Mr Wamalwa noted that the Sh135.6 billion for the water conveyance system, Sh122 billion for the dam and Sh6.4 annual pumping costs were not factored in the initial budget, hence the expected rise in cost.
There are also reports that MPs from maize growing Rift Valley regions are not as excited about the undertaking for the reason that it could lead to overproduction and lower prices.
With a cut-throat competition between the two major political blocs building up ahead of next year’s polls, temperatures can only rise.