Jubilee will lie low in hope that scandal fizzles out

Sunday February 28 2016

Youth protest outside Integrity Centre in Nairobi on February 23, 2016 against what they claimed was discrimination against various suspects in the fight against graft by the Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission  in reference to the way the body had earlier cleared former Devolution Cabinet Secretary Ann Waiguru in the National Youth Service saga where Sh791m was lost. PHOTO | EVANS HABIL | NTION MEDIA GROUP

Youth protest outside Integrity Centre in Nairobi on February 23, 2016 against what they claimed was discrimination against various suspects in the fight against graft by the Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission in reference to the way the body had earlier cleared former Devolution Cabinet Secretary Ann Waiguru in the National Youth Service saga where Sh791m was lost. PHOTO | EVANS HABIL | NTION MEDIA GROUP 

By GEORGE KEGORO
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In other circumstances, the logical step in addressing the spiralling financial scandal at the National Youth Service would have been to invite the relevant agencies in the government to carry out investigations into the competing accusations with a view to laying bare the truth which would then inform the next action.

However, ever since the scandal broke out last year, there has been a determined effort to shield the former Devolution Secretary, Ms Anne Waiguru, from accountability. Ms Waiguru was in charge of the NYS and it was under her watch that the scandal took place. President Kenyatta offered Ms Waiguru a strong defence and exempted the former cabinet secretary from the requirement that he imposed on five other ministers in his government to resign from office following accusations that their departments were involved in corruption.

Thereafter, Jubilee members of Parliament reduced into a farce attempts by the Public Accounts Committee to question Ms Waiguru, barracking the committee’s proceedings which they had gatecrashed.

When, eventually, Ms Waiguru resigned, an event that was carefully managed to mask the fact that she was bowing to pressure over the NYS scandal, the Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission carried out a feckless investigation whose only intention appears to have been to clear the former minister.

The sham investigation omitted questioning Josephine Kabura, who is a director of, and who appears to have played a central role in, the companies accused of swindling the missing money, was not even interviewed by the investigators.

With a clear political resolve to shield Ms Waiguru from accountability and compromised investigative agencies, there is no reasonable expectation that an independent investigation into the NYS scandal is possible.

The entangling of United Republican Party figures into the scandal has further raised the political cost that a genuine investigation would attract.

DENYING ACCUSATIONS

While denying the accusations against her, Ms Waiguru sucked in prominent individuals aligned with the URP including Treasury Secretary Henry Rotich, Majority Leader in the National Assembly Aden Duale and Farouk Kibet, an aide to Deputy President William Ruto, and also a person named Luke Samoei, who is claimed to be a relative of the DP – a relationship that the latter denies.

Since no action is likely against Ms Waiguru, any accountability might have had to be against those she has implicated on the URP side. However, the Jubilee coalition cannot survive such a selective approach to justice. Since no action is likely against Ms Waiguru, there will be no action against anybody else. Coupled with the fact that there is, in the first place, no capacity for an independent investigation, it looks likely that the Jubilee leadership will now lie low in the hope that this scandal blows over.

Going forward, the NYS scandal signifies the fact that Jubilee has run out of excuses for its inaction against corruption. Unusually, the opposition, which is often blamed as a diversionary tactic, is not in this one.

President Kenyatta’s lamentation abroad that he is leading a country of thieves is his indication that nothing more should be expected from him.

In four short years, Jubilee has morphed from a political coalition into a profiteering organisation. The only essence for its existence, and the only thing now holding it together, is the capacity of those inside to loot the state. That is why accountability becomes difficult and even threatening.

There has been a tendency to leave the President out of this, to say that he is committed to the fight against corruption but he is being let down by all the bad people around him. This familiar line was used to justify the failings of the Moi government and is a convenient way of rationalising political failure.

The President’s job is to lead the country and to find solutions for all its problems.

FIND SOLUTIONS

Not only has he failed to find solutions to the problem of corruption but there is also abundant evidence, as evidenced by how Ms Waiguru has been treated, that the President has used his position to shield people suspected of corruption.

If Kenya had retained its parliamentary constitution, the Jubilee coalition would most likely have come down and this would have been the right time for the country to go back to the polls.

Elections would renew the politics and would give the electorate a chance to express themselves directly about the highly disturbing recent goings-on in the country and more specifically about the fact that there appears little capacity to do anything about the corruption that has flourished during the young Jubilee administration.

The current constitution, however, provides fixed terms of office for the President and Parliament. This means that the country has to endure the status quo until the elections scheduled for next year. What, in the meantime, will Jubilee do to pass the time?

Whatever Jubilee lacks in substance, it more than makes up with its ability to use state and religious iconography in creating the impression of motion where there is none. Notwithstanding the mess surrounding his government, the President managed to draw a standing ovation during the last state of the nation address and, thereafter, used the high profile visit by Pope Francis to appeal for divine intervention in addressing corruption. Jubilee is saying that God will somehow solve our problems while we actively protect the corrupt ourselves.

Having reached its lowest moment, Jubilee will immediately recognise that the current situation calls for another showy performance. We are bound to see one in the near future, perhaps during next month’s state of the nation address.

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