Extraordinary perils call for extraordinary remedies. The Treasury of the Republic is accused of complicity in looting the public purse and cooking economic data. Monday’s arrest of Treasury Cabinet Secretary Henry Rotich, principal secretaries Kamau Thugge (Treasury) and Susan Koech (East African Cooperation) and 25 other top government officials over the dam scandal in Elgeyo-Marakwet shows that the country is on the very verge of collapse, consumed from the inside by the malign effect of corruption and greed.
This is not a situation that can be addressed by dramatic arrests and arraignments, threats from the Presidency and a reluctant shuffling of magistrates by the Chief Justice.
Kenyans are losing confidence in President Uhuru Kenyatta and the kit and caboodle of Jubilee at a time when the country faces a dire crisis of theft — on a massive scale — allegedly by people entrusted with the management of its finances. It is time for President Kenyatta to demonstrate real leadership and true political will and harness all the institutions of State to save the country.
The arrest of the leadership of the Finance ministry over its alleged role in the most brazen theft in Kenya’s history — the Kimwarer and Arror dam fiasco — shows that Kenya has hit rock bottom.
The country must now find the strength to rise from the filth of corruption. For this to happen, the weekend rally warriors who burn fuel hopping from meeting to meeting, corrupting the minds of the people with cheap politics that they must now depoliticise the fight against corruption or face the people’s wrath.
The issue is not whose supporter, or from which tribe, the suspect comes but whether there is a prima facie case against them and whether they have been treated fairly.
As for the people at the spearhead of this fight, Director of Public Prosecution Noordin Haji, Director of Criminal Investigations George Kinoti and Chief Justice David Maraga, they need to know that if they fail the people of Kenya at this critical juncture, they will not have to wait for history to judge them.
They will be judged by the masses of the Kenyan people, disgusted by the musical chairs of arrests and no conviction and of thieves who continue to fly their ill-gotten private jets as people die of preventable diseases and children learn in the open.
Mr Kinoti must investigate with dispassionate efficiency, Mr Haji must prosecute fairly but implacably while CJ Maraga should lose the air of a country lawyer.
The law is not a grenade in danger of going off unless it is handled with the most grovelling of care. In all fairness, while Mr Haji and Mr Kinoti have shown personal initiative and commitment, the sense Kenyans get is that the Judiciary treats the fight against corruption as just another item on its otherwise crowded, gilded agenda. It is not. It is a national priority of the greatest urgency.
The CJ should take personal responsibility for the fight against corruption and assemble an ‘A’ team of judges to respond to an existential threat to the country.
If he cannot find room within the dignity of his office to respond to this issue with urgency, then he and his judges should give Kenyans an opportunity to find people who can. Whatever the case, the thieves in government should be in jail by Christmas or the entire lot go home and fresh office holders found.
The dams scandal, whose cumulative cost is estimated at Sh63 billion and Sh20 billion already paid, is an example of corruption run amok where the money lost one transaction eclipses all previous corruption.
In the 1990s, under the Moi regime, the country lost Sh5.8 billion through the Goldenberg scandal. Years later, under the Kibaki administration, the country was thrown into another humungous scandal, Anglo Leasing, through which the public stood to lose Sh18 billion. No one has ever been punished for that and not much of the money has been recovered.
It is not enough — at all — to just jail the thieves: Every effort must be made to recover every penny stolen so that every thief is restored to their original status — as act of justice and a deterrence to budding thieves — however long, and whatever, it takes.
The present case has all the hallmarks of a movie. An audit has found that procurement procedures were flouted and a whole range of illegal acts committed, including possibly exceeding the constitutional debt limit. And the type of contracting that Treasury is alleged to have allowed is, for lack of a politer term, retarded.
At the time of signing the contract the firm, CMC di Ravenna was fighting against bankruptcy suit back in Italy. It had been awarded two other contracts before to build dams elsewhere in the country but had not satisfactorily executed the contracts.
As writer and venture capitalist Oscar Auliq-Ice once remarked, “No one builds a legacy by standing still”. For the Kenyatta administration, it is time to put their money where their mouths are. Enough is enough: Kenyans want to see action and those who want to support corruption must resign and do it from home.
It is no longer business as usual.