Punish everyone involved in youth service cash theft

Sunday February 28 2016

Senate Deputy Majority Leader Kipchumba  Murkomen addresses the media at Parliament buildings on February 24, 2016 where he denied taking part in the National Youth Service scam after he was mentioned to have taken part in a sworn affidavit by former Devolution Cabinet Secretary Anne Waiguru.  PHOTO | JEFF ANGOTE | NATION MEDIA GROUP

Senate Deputy Majority Leader Kipchumba Murkomen addresses the media at Parliament buildings on February 24, 2016 where he denied taking part in the National Youth Service scam after he was mentioned to have taken part in a sworn affidavit by former Devolution Cabinet Secretary Anne Waiguru. PHOTO | JEFF ANGOTE | NATION MEDIA GROUP 

By PHILIP OCHIENG
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From the era of nationalism, there remains a small number of Kenyans still nursing the ideal that our people will one day devise a political instrument by which to wrench themselves free of the financial robbery by which a small elite has tyrannised our country ever since independence.

Meanwhile – as elsewhere in world history – a time always arrives when the robbers no longer agree as to how to share the booty. In Kenya, that now appears like a silver lining. From the many accusations and counter-accusations, no independent observer can make up his or her mind as to who exactly masterminded the snatching of billions from the National Youth Service (NYS).

But, for those who have watched the filth accumulate in the Augean stable since independence, the pattern is unmistakable. To be sure, individuals may sink long fingers into the national coffers. But it is not that easy. Much more often than not, the heist succeeds only as a concert of well placed individuals and groups.

That is why so many of Kenya’s officials are extremely keen to sacrifice Ms Anne Waiguru as the only culprit. Yet, if Ms Waiguru is guilty of any of the accusations facing her, the only special thing about it would be extreme naivete, extraordinary absence of finesse, unequalled inability to erase her footsteps from the sand.

And we must continue to use the word “if” until a court of law finds that Ms Waiguru was the mastermind of the NYS heist. Which reminds me that most of Kenya’s officials attend church, mosque, synagogue and pagoda at least once a week, hoping to flatter God into ignoring their own crimes and cruelties during the week.

Yet – by their own portrayal of God – the priests have convinced us that the deity cannot be cheated in that way.

That is why the media’s present preoccupation with Ms Waiguru appears terribly hypocritical. Its aim seems to be to sacrifice her – like the Easter lamb – so that everybody else in that very long chain of iniquity can go scot free.

OFFICIAL INQUIRY

To be sure, Ms Waiguru’s lap is an excellent place from which to launch an official inquiry into that chain. But, if the purpose is merely to sacrifice a lamb, then you will surely come a cropper. If the government is really committed to finding out how deep and minatory the whole iceberg of corruption really is beneath the sea, the government must spread its net far beyond the erstwhile cabinet minister.

And we must reject official Kenya’s preoccupation with personalities whenever such a case arises. To be sure, a personality or several will have masterminded the event. But would it have succeeded so easily and handsomely without anything else? Wouldn’t a good deal of the conspiracy have succeeded only because of the way in which both the ministry and the NYS are structured and run?

Thus, where leadership in all walks of life is so rotten, this preoccupation with Ms Waiguru as an individual, must be condemned. To be sure, do centre your inquiry upon her.

But the inquiry will impress the more intelligent Kenyans only if it is done by a team named in a manner that satisfies all the norms of propriety and justice.
Otherwise, all intelligent Kenyans will assume – as they have always done after every one of the government’s bogus post-independence inquiries – that your only interest is to manufacture just such “findings” as can add up to an effective public cover-up.

Please do not waste our meagre public finances in another attempt to lead Kenyans up the garden path in that way.

Although Ms Waiguru will be an important witness, please dig into every one of your nooks and crannies to catch and punish everyone who has thus condemned millions of Kenyans to death by robbing them even of the little that “they hath”.

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