Shadowboxing and buck-passing will not defeat ogre of corruption

The President has at his disposal awesome resources that no individual or cabal can match.

Tuesday March 8 2016

By MACHARIA GAITHO
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I do not, as a rule, comment on the views espoused by other columnists. I respect the rights of all to freely advance their thoughts and opinions even if I vehemently disagree with them.

But I will sometimes break the rule when something of critical national interest demands further ventilation.

This is the conclusion I reached on reading a piece last week by The Star Monday columnist Wambugu Ngunjiri that sought to explain away President Uhuru Kenyatta’s unwillingness or inability to tackle corruption.

I might have let it slide but for Mr Ngunjiri doing a follow up on Monday to buttress his thesis that the President is up against an all-powerful Corruption Czar, an individual who has the networks and financial resources to counter anything the government can muster in the war on graft.

Now, that is frightening. Even with the new Constitution that regime apologists blame for government failures, the President still has at his disposal awesome resources in financial, administrative, and security networks that no individual or cabal can match.

If indeed President Kenyatta is unable to tame corruption because a cartel controlled by one individual is more powerful than him, then Kenya is officially a criminal enterprise with the President reduced to a lame duck and the government rendered completely impotent.

I refuse to believe that President Uhuru Kenyatta, even with all his weaknesses, can countenance such a situation.

Mr Ngunjiri referred in the follow-up article published on Monday this week to a conversation, and social media postings, where I supposedly confirmed the existence of the all-powerful individual.

Now, that is stretching things a bit, for what I acknowledged is that even with no names mentioned, it is easy to decipher the individual he was referring to.

It is a person who was a close political and business associate of former vice-president George Saitoti and also had his fingers in suspicious police and military procurement scandals going back many years.

It is a person that the Uhuru regime has been trying to counter with ineffective gestures that would mean little to a czar controlling, according to Mr Ngunjiru, Sh400 billion, a tidy chunk of Kenya’s Sh2 trillion budget.

PRESIDENT DIRECTLY INTERVENED

Some government policies, such as the police ban on private armour-plated vehicles, seem directed against the unnamed individual.

When President Kenyatta directly intervened to block the Kenya Airports Authority purchase of apron buses, chatter from his bands of supporters at various elitist watering holes in Nairobi indicated that he was fighting back against the same fellow.

It looked to me more like a school yard bust-up of St Mary’s School old boys, all angling for a piece of government largesse.

But most frightening is the message that the President is unable to fight corruption because a former schoolmate is tougher than him.

That is an excuse I would have dismissed with contempt but for the fact that coming from Mr Ngunjiri, it might have official imprimatur.

After a flirtation with Mr Raila Odinga’s ODM, when he headed something called Kikuyu’s for Change, the political consultant shifted camp to the winning side and has now become one of the most enthusiastic spokesmen for the Jubilee regime in the Kenyan media.

While he might hold no official capacity, it might be safe to assume that he reflects official viewpoint, or at least his assessment of it.

Now, if President Kenyatta has to resort to friendly newspaper columnists to offer justification for failing the war on corruption, that is worrying.

Beyond worrying, it is frightening that the President is hostage to forces that are supposedly more powerful than anything the coercive power of State can assemble.

We are being told that there is a monster out there who controls the police, the military, and other security organs, the Judiciary and the entire justice machine, and the government administrative organs and even bankrolls critical voices in the media and the political opposition.

We are being told that the unnamed individual has the capacity to sponsor insurrection and terrorism in order to counter any moves that President Kenyatta might launch against him.

The piece ends by asking who between the President and the Corruption Czar will prevail.

Looks like Czar has already won hands down. Will the last person to exit Kenya please switch off the lights?

[email protected] Twitter: @MachariaGaitho

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