The hypocrisy displayed by MPs last Thursday was sickening. Prof Patrick Lumumba’s most strident critics on the floor of the House were facing on-going investigations by the Kenya Anti-Corruption Authority.
Indeed, the parliamentary debate resembled a case where a poachers’ committee had been given the responsibility of passing judgment on the effectiveness of the chief game warden.
Prof Lumumba’s goose was already cooked, but his predicament was made worse by the embarrassing altercation with Ms Cecily Mbarire.
In terms of tactics, that press conference by Prof Lumumba during which he claimed Ms Mbarire had tried to bribe him was a grotesque political blunder.
Sooner or later, the political class will appoint another anti-graft czar, continuing to pretend that they are, indeed, committed to the fight against corruption.
I have a suggestion for them: If they do believe that Prof Lumumba and the whole executive committee running the anti-graft body was ineffective, why not appoint Mr John Githongo as the next anti-corruption czar?
I am sure they will not even as much as consider such a prospect. When they appoint an anti-graft czar, their true intention is merely to hoodwink their friends and allies in Washington, Berlin, Paris and London by presenting the appearance of genuine commitment to fighting graft.
Mr Githongo could not survive earlier because he misread the true intentions of the appointing authority.
You have to look at how MPs have watered down the proposed Anti-Corruption and Ethics Commission to appreciate the lengths to which the political class will go to resist an effective anti-graft body.
The idea of giving the anti-graft body created under the new Constitution powers to prosecute were chucked out.
New ideas long adopted in anti-corruption institutions in other jurisdictions such as lifestyle audits for public servants, and effective wealth declarations and asset-tracing systems were knocked off the Bill.
Clearly, we are at a point where we must go back to the drawing board to design an anti-corruption strategy which will work.
In the first place, the punishment model is not helpful. We are too obsessed with ‘‘frying the big fish’’ and sending culprits to jail.
In a context like ours in which corruption is systemic and where the fight against it has implications for competition for political power, you are unlikely to achieve much when you put so much weight on jailing corrupt public officials.
Why don’t we try a more robust punishment model where some of the corrupt public officials are automatically sacked from their jobs, and where other culprits are barred from holding public office, named and shamed, surcharged or made to return looted public property?
We judge performance of anti-graft czars by the number of big fish they have fried. When you put pressure on the individual, the standard refrain, regardless of whether it is Mr Aaron Ringera, Dr John Mutonyi or Prof Lumumba, is that they can’t prosecute.
Sooner or later, public criticism starts building up, and the anti-graft boss is accused of not bringing home enough big fish to fry. The stage is then set for the removal of the director or the dismantling of the anti-graft body altogether.
I will repeat the point I have made in this column before: The root cause of corruption in this country is political patronage.
The very reason why our leaders engage in politics is to capture State resources and distribute it to members of their ethnic communities, families and cronies.
Patronage is the reason why we will still vote for and support politicians with pending corruption cases in court. We only get enraged when the fruits of corruption are not shared equitably among tribes.
We must accept that the strategy we have adopted has woefully failed, and approach the whole thing differently.
The idea of modelling the KACC as some elite institution with highly-paid staffers doing basically the same job as other watchdog institutions such as the Internal Audit Directorate at the Treasury, the Auditor-General, the Directorate of Public Prosecutions, and the Judiciary, has not helped.
The next anti-graft czar should not be a lawyer. Corruption is not just about enforcing the law. Let’s give the job to Mr Githongo.