Whining won’t stop corruption; only action can stop the thieves

With proper diagnosis, the President can prescribe proper remedy for our national problem.

Tuesday March 1 2016

Kenya's President Uhuru Kenyatta (left) stands next to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu as they deliver joint statements in Jerusalem on February 23, 2016. PHOTO | AFP 

By MACHARIA GAITHO
More by this Author

I did not know whether to applaud, laugh, or cry when I listened to President Uhuru Kenyatta being true to his Kenyan self by publicly whining that Kenyans love to whine.

And into the bargain, he lamented before an audience of Kenyans in Israel, that his subjects are experts in thievery, tribalism, and hurling insults.

Save for wincing at the President laying bare our dirty linen in foreign lands, I found those sentiments worth cheering insofar as they indicate that a president who so often seems out of touch with reality finally does understand what ails Kenya.

It is only with proper diagnosis that the President can prescribe the proper remedy for our national problem.

I also found in the speech something appealing and heart-warming in a president who is not afraid to put on display his human side.

We have been used to stern-faced, remote, sphinx-like heads of state, but in Uhuru Kenyatta we often see just another Kenyan with all his human fears, doubts, uncertainties, and insecurities.

That is a side of the President we should get used to seeing, just as much as we often get that angry persona, or the jocular, fun-loving, dancing, president whose serial selfies record everything for posterity.

It takes a real and brave man to acknowledge his weaknesses and failings. The President is not Superman and will often be wracked by self-doubt, confusion, and feelings of helplessness.

The President we saw in Israel was being true to himself, and to Kenyans.

That, I can applaud, but only on condition that sincere acceptance of one’s limitations is followed by strengthened resolve to do what must be done.

My fear is that instead of buckling down and confronting head-on the demons of corruption, tribalism, and all the other negatives that hold us back, the President will be throwing up his hands in defeat and despair.

KENYANS HAVE SURRENDERED

Too many Kenyans have already surrendered. Too many of us have sunk into the mire of tribalism. Too many of us accept corruption and the wanton theft of public resources as the natural condition, the way things are done. The President is already being seen to have given up on his still-born war against corruption.

On the issue of graft in his government, he has been content with useless public relations stunts but otherwise prefers to bury his hand in the sand when those around him seem determined to loot the county dry in the best fashion of his kleptomaniac mentor, retired president Daniel arap Moi.

The reflex reaction from those in President Kenyatta’s court challenged on corruption is not denial, but justification of their thieving ways on the grounds that their accusers, including opposition leader Raila Odinga, are corrupt too.

Mr Odinga is not the president of Kenya and indeed, holds no elective or appointed public office. He can make all the noise he wants in living up to his mandate of keeping the government on its toes, but ultimately cannot send anyone to jail. He can only whine, just like the President.

But if he is himself corrupt, a beneficiary of corruption, or tolerant of corruption in his ranks, then he belongs behind bars.

Since Mr Odinga will not make himself a guest of the State, then it behoves the State agencies charged with those onerous tasks to carry out their investigations and launch a prosecution strong enough to convince the judges to put him away for a very long time.
President Kenyatta should not be whining but cracking the whip on the agencies that have so clearly failed to fight corruption. What Kenyans see is a president who gives only lip service to that fight, surrounding himself with and openly protecting the high priests and priestesses of graft.

The agencies supposed to lead the aborted war, notably the Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission, the National Police Service, and even the Judiciary, have been reduced to pliant lapdogs of the mafia within.

This President is running out of time. As long as he so publicly indicates surrender in the war he must win to rescue his presidency, he is also signalling that he is tired of the job.

If so, it would only be fair if he confessed that he lacks the stomach to carry on.

[email protected] @MachariaGaitho