The fight against corruption and embezzlement of public funds is indeed bearing fruit. We might have not witnessed convictions yet but the fact that people high in the political ladder have started fidgeting is a clear indication that the heat generated from the effort is being felt in the right places.
About a week ago, politicians associated with Deputy President William Ruto were reported to have raised concerns that the ongoing onslaught against graft was targeting their man. This despite the fact the DP had earlier categorically voiced support for what the Executive he is second in command of was doing to find and recover and safeguard public property. When individuals in positions of leadership start to point fingers and attempt to taint a process that is obviously in public interest, it puts in doubt their express motive. But in the case of the current campaign, it is an indication that the process is on course.
Another interesting part of the supposed defense of the Deputy President against supposed witch hunt is the failure by its advocates to deny that the crime was committed but rather that it seems to target a section of the leadership.
What the leaders in question are suggesting, and they said as much, is that the whole graft war is planned and executed just to frustrate the Deputy President’s plans to inherit President Uhuru Kenyatta's seat in 2022. In essence, the leaders are saying, the Deputy President lied to the nation when he said that he and the President are working together to arrest the run-away corruption. The self-declared Ruto allies are telling the public that the DP is not committed to his boss’s declaration of war against graft and he suspects the President is fighting him. And that does not augur well for the leadership of the country.
There’s hope though. The men quoted by the press could possibly be using the Deputy President’s name to fight their own wars.
When the first scandal was made public, everyone seemed to be in agreement that “no stone should be left unturned to bring the perpetrators to book.” Until now, no politician from whichever faction has come out to deny or defend the accused in the National Youth Service scandal. The scandal involves the misappropriation or loss of Sh9 billion and already some 43 people are in court for it. It seems the suspects in this one do not have political representatives!
Then came the maize scandal at the National Cereals and Produce Board, the oil scandal at the Kenya Pipeline Company, the Kenya Power and the Kenya Electricity Transmission Company and suddenly the leaders came out of the cocoons with the our-man-is-being-targeted song.
But the Deputy President does not head these organisations. There is no apparent evidence that he did business with the firms under investigation. There can only be one assumption: that the people complaining he is being targeted are direct beneficiaries of the suspected malpractice and fear the investigation will reach them and the invocation of the DP is a way of diverting attention. One may be forgiven to think, like Jubilee Party’s Vice Chairman David Murathe, that the guilty are always afraid. Director of Criminal Investigations George Kinoti might consider checking out the source of the noise as he continues with his search for culprits.
On the flipside, other than the lopsided view of selective defense, the tantrums also seem to confirm that appointments to some public offices in this country seem to follow a trend of some partisan, and not necessarily party, lines. Such than when the office holders are called out for something gone wrong, it is interpreted that it is the godfather who is being targeted.
And the reports also brought something else which sounded unintended but which could help the investigations. The leaders were reported to have threatened to spill the beans on others in the system they know are also culpable for corruption. A weekend paper reported that “Those who feel aggrieved said if the trend continued, they too will be forced to come out to say what they know about corruption in high places.” The leaders should not wait for “the trend to continue”! Unless they are admitting culpability, they should furnish the investigating agencies with that information to hasten the process of arresting corruption.
It seems there was a conspiracy to loot the State and now those nabbed in the web are threatening to reveal the identities of their accomplices if they are not set free. Here too, the DCI and the Director of Public Prosecutions may consider digging.
All said, the future and present of the country is tied on the success of the ongoing purge against official graft and nothing should be allowed to stand in the way. The stakes are too high for politics and the tribe.
Michael Cherambos is a social commentator based in Nairobi. [email protected]