If ever dramatic evidence was needed that President Uhuru Kenyatta’s renewed anti-corruption purge takes no prisoners, it manifested at the weekend when the management suite of Kenya Power Company was decimated in one fell swoop.
A dozen or so top managers, including the chief executive and his predecessor, along with scores of vendors and suppliers, were expected to overflow the dock in court this week facing multiple counts of corruption.
The scandal-plagued electricity distribution monopoly and its cousins in the energy production, development and transmission sectors have, for decades, been the epitome of corruption and impunity in Kenya but have always appeared untouchable because of close links with the political power elite.
Now, indeed, we are seeing that it is no longer business as usual. Kudos to Director of Criminal Investigations George Kinoti and Director of Public Prosecutions Noordin Haji, who have taken the frontline in the graft war.
But the two are just the public faces of a vast and coordinated multi-agency approach put together in an audacious plan to slay the corruption dragon.
Key to everything, obviously, has to be untinting political support as President Kenyatta finally moves to contain the scourge that has been a nearly indelible stain on his leadership.
The Kenya Power purge stands as dramatic testimony that officials who treat public resources as private property will be called individually to account and no longer shelter behind political affiliation or ethnic solidarity.
It is a signal that those who loot public wealth at the behest of their political patrons will be left to fry on their own.
And that raises another question: The managers from Kenya Power, National Youth Service and other public institutions now being called to account are merely cogs in the wheel of a vast organised crime network controlled, directed and ultimately benefitting powerful politicians and State apparatchik.
However senior in public service they may be, those so far arrested are just the bagmen; the capi di tutti capi and the ‘Godfathers’ somewhere near the top of the political totem pole remain untouched.
As long as the lords of graft and impunity remain free to play obstructionist politics and employ their ill-gotten wealth to sabotage the war on graft and hinder the quest for national peace, unity, reconciliation, they remain clear and present danger to the nation.
NO SACRED COWS
That is why the next phase in the war must be to demonstrate that there are no sacred cows, that no individual, however mighty, enjoys the power of impunity and immunity from arrest and prosecution.
The ‘Justice is Blind’ principle must apply to all elected and appointed State officers, together with their spouses, parents, children, siblings, cousin, uncles and aunts, in-laws and all other relations, friends and associates.
Let us also remember that, as we whoop and cheer the latest developments, the war on corruption is not won on the drama and showmanship of tough statements, media leaks, arrests and prosecutions.
Victory is when the corrupt are found guilty, sent to jail and relieved of all the proceeds of their crime.
Victory is also the eradication of a national culture where corruption is an accepted way of life, where the route to leadership in politics and salvation by the Church must be watered with the proceeds of crime. To that end, we must go back to deep self-reflection and find out what went wrong.
We had a chance to chart a new direction with the enactment of the current Constitution in 2010 but, not long afterwards, conspired to trash constitutional requirements on national values and principles of governance and the leadership and integrity code.
We sabotaged a key element of the Constitution just so that two individuals could vie for high public office despite the fact that they were under International Criminal Court indictment for crimes against humanity.
When President Kenyatta and Deputy President William Ruto parlayed their election into successful fightback against the ICC prosecution, the precedent was set that integrity in leadership was just a meaningless principle even if enshrined in the Constitution.
Now, we are paying for that grand conspiracy in the unchecked return of grand corruption. We must accept that, unless we reverse the rot, this country will drift towards implosion.
* * *
There was a time when a diplomatic assignment was a real achievement, a mark of honour on being entrusted to represent your country in foreign shores.
Now it has been reduced to a dumping ground for failed politicians and public servants who are no longer of use.
[email protected] Twitter: @MachariaGaitho