Tag Archives: Bribery

Poetic Justice: Coming Home To Roost During His Son’s Regime: Jomo Kenyatta’s “Policies” of Land-grabbing.

Juxtaposed alongside the lengthy piece on Jomo Kenyatta’s formative years by Daily Nation’s Murithi Mutiga titled “Jomo Kenyatta’s troubled years in London that drove him to greatness” is a piece in the Standard titled “Trail of Blood, Big Money in Land Scandals in Kenya”. Taken together, these two articles underscore the negative impact the “policies” of Kenya’s founding father has had on the country’s long-term stability much like Jim Crowism has had on matters of race here in America. I put the term policies in parenthesis because one can argue that Mzee Jomo Kenyatta DID NOT have any policies for the accounting and the allocation of land after Kenya’s independence. In fact once they assumed power, Mr. Kenyatta and those around him ruled Kenya much like the “dreaded” Brits did. That opiate of the masses religion/Christianity, supposedly used by the missionaries to usurp land from Africans, was effectively replaced first by nationalism then by tribalism as Kenyans imbibed the euphoria of independence and of being in power respectively.

As much as Kenyans have sought to canonize Kenyatta Pere (and now Kenyatta Son), the inconvenient truth is that the country’s founding father bequeathed them a society of “ten billionaires and forty million beggars” as presciently opined by the late JM Kariuki. For Kenyans who have a notoriously short and selective memory, let me remind them that Josiah Mwangi Kariuki famously uttered the revised quote regarding Jomo Kenyatta’s Kenya shortly before he was assassinated in 1975. I will leave it up to those interested to research and conclude on whose order the MP for Nyandarua was murdered. Similarly poignant are the comments of one KimPP who wrote in reaction to the picture accompanying Mr. Mutiga’s piece that “jumping higher than Jomo” celebrating his (Jomo’s) release was Tom Mboya whose life came to a tragic and violent end much like JM’s. Not surprising, implicated in the assassination was the “big man” whose release from detention Mboya was celebrating!

There is no escaping the fact that the (land) policies of Jomo’s Kenya are coming home to roost in Kenya@50. The idea of blaming “the British policy of divide and rule…for what is ailing Kenya today and all its former colonies” as put forth by one Arsenal2014 is curious at best if not ridiculous and outright hypocritical. Mr. Uhuru Kenyatta himself has seemingly taken to blaming the west for what ails Kenya and Africa. Fully illustrating the hypocrisy of Kenya and her leaders is a piece titled “Home guards’ ghosts still haunting Kenya” where Mr. Maina Kiai argues that the president’s rhetoric may be anti-west but his Peponi schools are as British as they come, run by British educators and providing a British education; his public relations advisers are British, whispering propaganda against those wishing for a different Kenya; his business advisers are British; his lead lawyers at The Hague are British; and his K24 station has been funded by the British, among others.

Kenya will not have an honest discussion with the resultant real/permanent solutions to this most explosive of issues – land ownership – until it faces up to and ACTS on the reality that its leaders, including the revered Jomo Kenyatta and his son are up to their eyeballs in the corruption and greed that pervades the issue. The hypocrisy of Mr. Kenyatta’s handling of land-induced violence is underscored by the fact that the same president now warning “leaders to do their homework well before making reckless statements and naming people, linking them to (the Karen land) scandal” was the same person who accused unnamed “local political networks” and opposition politicians of being “reckless and hatemongers engaged in ‘ethnic-profiling’ of one community” during the violence in Mpeketoni and Lamu back in June 2014; violence also related to land. I am still waiting for Mr. Kenyatta to retract the rather impetuous and incorrect allegations he made back in June now that an investigation has revealed that the efforts of one of the individuals he accused of dereliction of duty were in fact stifled by his bosses and the individual relieved of duty during an on-going and active investigation.

To paraphrase a comment made by one Chiriku in response to Mr. Mutiga’s piece, Kenyans seem willing to revise the country’s history; in the process praising and absolving those implicated in the (historic) plunder of national resources. Instead, WaKenya Halisi take to blaming the colonialists who have been gone for over 50 years.

Daily Nation columnist Ms. Rasna Warah offers that Mr. Uhuru Kenyatta would have made a good president had he not relied on a coterie of advisers who are more interested in amassing personal wealth even if it means taking the country back to the days of the all-powerful presidency when the rule of law was considered a mere inconvenience. It does not bode well for Mr. Kenyatta’s fight against corruption at the highest level of his government when he chooses to transfer individuals adversely mentioned in scandals rather than suspending them pending the outcome of investigations.

One would grudgingly accept the angling for presidential plausible deniability offered by Ms. Warah’s article were it not for the high stakes involved: The columnist writes that the 2007 election showed that when historical grievances are not addressed and when issues of marginalization, equity and justice are left on the back-burner, aggrieved communities can rise up against the state and against each other. All it takes is manipulative and self-serving politicians (which Kenya@50 has by the boatload) to ignite the flame.

The chickens of land-grabbing are indeed coming home to roost and charged with confronting them less than half-way through his term in office is the son of the man who created the problem.

Poetic justice?

Leave a comment

Filed under Kenya

Finally!

It has been a long and painful five-year journey with twists and turns that would make for a great who-done-it caper worthy of Sir Arthur Conan Doyles’ penmanship. Unfortunately for the family and friends of the 1200+ Kenyans who died, some in the most horrific of circumstances including being locked then set alight inside a place usually reserved for those seeking the calming grace of their deity, the horrors of their beloved country’s darkest moment live in infamy to this very day.

Starting off as the “Ocampo Six” charged, by then-Chief Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC) Argentinean Luis Gabriel Moreno Ocampo, with crimes against humanity related to the post-election violence that engulfed Kenya in the wake of the disputed presidential elections of 2007, Uhuru Kenyatta, William Ruto, Francis Muthaura, Mohammed Ali, Henry Kosgey and Joshua Arap Sang became the “Ocampo Four” as the prosecution was unable to confirm charges against former police commissioner Mohammed Ali and former Industrialization Minister Henry Kosgey. The four soon became three as the ICC prosecution dropped charges against the former Cabinet Secretary Mr. Muthaura following the discrediting of a key witness.

Gambian Ms. Fatou Bensouda who took over from Mr. Moreno Ocampo has diligently worked through the legal labyrinth of obstacles – some valid and others deliberate – including allegations of bribery and intimidation of witnesses not to mention the election of two of the remaining three suspects to the presidency and deputy presidency of Kenya. It is the possible and eventual election of Uhuru Kenyatta and William Ruto as President and Deputy President that drew the much-derided and in equal parts applauded “choices have consequences” comment by then-US Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs Johnnie Carson.

http://elections.nation.co.ke/news/-/1631868/1687566/-/p86h8fz/-/index.html

I have a different take on the consequences Mr. Carson was alluding to.

That the 3 suspects are being tried at The Hague instead of Kenya or Arusha is the consequence of  an elite and ruling class that has repeatedly acted with impunity including detaining, torturing and murdering their opponents, perceived and otherwise. Mr. Kenyatta, Mr. Ruto and Mr. Sang have been tripped by a (Kenyan) legal system that has the reputation of being susceptible to manipulation and influence by the rich and powerful. As a consequence, they are now facing a legal system that is comparatively unforgiving and unyielding and very expensive!

Methinks that the accused, especially the president and his deputy, shot themselves in the foot with their intense lobbying to get the proceedings delayed and re-located locally; certainly away from The Hague. Said maneuvers played into the hands of those who believe that given Kenya’s past, it would be very difficult, almost impossible to try the two principals, Uhuru Kenyatta in particular, locally without interference and manipulation by the country’s political elites. All one has to do is pick up recent copies of local newspapers such as Daily Nation and they will see how incompetent and untrustworthy Kenya’s judiciary has been when faced with politically-charged cases:

Those responsible for the assassinations of JM Kariuki, Tom Mboya and Robert Ouko, allegedly at the behest of Presidents Kenyatta Pere and Moi respectively, have never been brought to justice, including the “big man” who was identified by the convicted assassin Nahashon Isaac Njenga Njoroge as the force behind the murder of Tom Mboya.

I also believe that the delaying tactics were designed to whittle down the number of victims willing to testify against the 3 suspects, sway public opinion against the proceedings and eventually compel the ICC to try the cases locally. Mr. Kenyatta and Mr. Ruto were indeed able to sway public opinion in their favor and ride the anti-ICC wave to the presidency and deputy presidency respectively. They were also successful in whittling down the number of those willing to testify against them, allegedly through bribery and intimidation. Fortunately, their efforts did not sway the required 2/3rds majority of judges to vote in favor of moving the cases from The Hague.

The guilty are afraid, so goes the title of one of Mr. René Lodge Brabazon Raymond aka James Hadley Chase’s books.

If the suspects have nothing to hide and enough evidence to sustain said claim of innocence, they should not worry about the venue of the trials. The president and his deputy also have services of the best legal teams money can buy. Mr. Kenyatta in particular has access to the Kenyatta fortune and given the coalition (with Mr. Ruto) of the suspects; a union of two person facing charges at The Hague, the two should have no problem funding their legal team(s) to fight Ms. Bensouda at The Hague

Consequences indeed!

Leave a comment

Filed under 2013 Presidential Elections, Corruption, Democracy, Elections, Failed State, Governance, Governance - Kenya, IDPs, International Criminal Court - ICC, Justice, Kenya, Law & Order, Politics, The Hague

Consequences re-visted

The Wednesday August 7 inferno that destroyed the arrival terminal at Kenya’s Jomo Kenyatta International Airport (JKIA), the country’s main airport, could have been prevented if not contained had some very basic mitigants been in place and (periodically) enforced. It is a very sad commentary on a country whose nationals, especially those who support the ruling elite, have so much pride, not to mention hubris, that its “international” airport has non-functioning fire hydrants and fire-fighting equipment, untrained or poorly trained and motivated personnel not to mention fire-suppression systems that would have detected the smoke…and fire…and at least mitigated the damage…if not doused the flames once the fire started.

I will say it again:

Consequences:

Of the continued embrace of a system of governance that rewards plum positions, including directorship/leadership positions in critical organizations such as the Kenya Airports Authority (KAA) without holding said leaders fully accountable for the performance of the organizations in their charge. That the fire hydrants were reportedly not working is a direct result of lack of maintenance – the director’s job – Yes, it is the director’s job to ensure that the organization in his/her charge adheres to all applicable international and national standards including maintenance of critical systems/equipment such as fire hydrants. It is also the job of the director to ensure that the organization has adequate resources – trained manpower and well-maintained and functioning equipment to perform the assigned tasks.

Of the continued culture of “kitu kidogo”; “something small” or bribery/bribes and impunity that Kenya and her leaders are known for all over the world; a culture that has allowed the construction of infrastructure/buildings such as the airport now reduced to rubbles, roads and bridges etc. that do not meet applicable local and international standards such as installation of fire-suppression systems, availability of functioning hydrants within the premises not mention use of sub-standard building material or material whose design-intent is mitigation of common occurrences such as fires, water leaks, wear-and-tear etc. The applicable standards would have been enforced during the building inspections prior to approval and final commission of said building. Subsequent follow-up audits and inspection would have ensured that the applicable standards had been met and if not, corrective action with due-dates and responsible person(s) would have been enacted. Unfortunately, the fore-going scenarios makes two deadly assumptions: that the building inspections and follow-up audits would actually occur and that they would be executed by incorruptible officials!

Of the very culture of “kitu kidogo” and impunity that has allowed a tipping point of employees who are hired, not because they have the requisite qualifications and experience, but because they are the relative of the hiring manager (or someone above the hiring manager) or as has always been the case in Kenya, because they are from the tribe of the hiring manager and those in power! While there is nothing wrong with hiring a qualified and competent relative or even a tribesman/woman, there is something absolutely unethical if said relative or tribesman is incompetent and unethical. This situation is compounded by the hubris and arrogance reflected in expressions such as “KANU itatawala milele na milele” or “KANU will rule for ever and ever” popularized during the reign of President Moi or that “the (Kenyan) presidency will never cross the Chania River” popularized after independence during the reign of President Jomo Kenyatta.

Consequences indeed!

Leave a comment

Filed under Corruption, Failed State, Governance, Governance - Kenya, Kenya, Law & Order, Life, Tribalism, Tribe

The massive log in our collective eyes!

I am a Kenyan living in the United States and find the article by Ms. Muthoni Thangwa in the July 29th edition of Daily Nation to be laughable at worst and misleading, not to mention a case of deflection at best.

 http://www.nation.co.ke/blogs/-/634/1929974/-/view/asBlogPost/-/gepjjkz/-/index.html

God knows that America has its faults. This country has a very painful and sordid history; one that it continues to deal with to this very day as evidenced by the events at the center of Ms. Thangwa’s piece. It is a past AND present whose details I delve into in my book Wuodha: My journey from Kenya to these United States. However, the one thing America; the country I have called home for the past thirty-plus years has which the likes of Muthoni and her compatriots can only intellectualize and fantasize about is a system of governance that holds people, including the president of the country, not to mention their friends and family wholly accountable for their actions. And on a slight but pertinent digression, United States of America has institutions – judiciary, legislative, police and infrastructures – roads, railways, and buildings etc. that while far from perfect, make those in Kenya the very embodiment of a banana republic!

I do not agree with the verdict on the murder of Trayvon Martin by George Zimmerman. My disagreement with the verdict is however based on emotional considerations than on legal ones.

The fact is: a young man needlessly lost their life and his killer essentially walked away scot-free! I feel more for Trayvon’s parents and friends. I don’t feel for Zimmerman’s parents or friends. At least they still get to see him – he is alive even though he will forever be haunted by the fact that he took the life of another human – Thou shalt not kill. Finally, and adding insult to injury is the afore-mentioned history of racism and Jim Crowism in America, the south (Florida) in particular that African Americans have endured over the years. I therefore get the perception this verdict has created, not only throughout the world, but even here in America. I also get how the acquittal of Mr. Zimmerman for the murder of Mr. Martin has added to the narrative the Ms. Thangwa is working with. However bone-headed, the verdict was made within the confines of the existing law(s).

Having stated the fore-going, let me also state without any equivocation that Kenyans are as hypocritical a people as I have seen and I am Kenyan! I also know that I am generalizing, the very crime Ms. Thangwa commits in her piece! I also know that two wrongs don’t make a right! To which I say “oh well!”

The same yahoos screaming about racism and bigotry in America will shamelessly hack one another to death because they are “uncircumcised” and/or from the wrong tribe! The very folks shaking their fists at America about “due process” for Trayvon are the same ones who will turn right round and tell those who disagreed with the Supreme Court verdict during the 2013 presidential elections to “accept and move on“. The very Kenyans who bloviate about “human rights for Trayvon…and the hypocrisy of America..blah, blah, blah” are the same ones who will turn right round and throw stones at the International Criminal Court (ICC) for “going after their sons”, sons who are accused of organizing over 1200 Trayvon Martins for the very reason Ms. Thangwa is accusing America of – violating the human rights of the less powerful! Maybe Muthoni can tell her readers whether the human rights of the internally-displaced people (IDPs) were violated by “our sons” as charged by the ICC. What of the rights of Robert Ouko, Tom Mboya, Pio G. Pinto, JM Kariuki?

In the 2012 US elections, there was a report of Kenyans, now naturalized American citizens who could not countenance voting for America’s first non-white president because he “…had Luo blood in him” courtesy of his father Barack Obama Sr.; the very definition of “judging someone by the color of their skin, not the content of their character!” These are the very people who will turn right round and tell those who accuse Uhuru of being the recipient of ill-gotten gains courtesy of his father Jomo “not to blame the son for the sins of the father.”

http://www.kenyan-post.com/2012/11/kikuyus-here-in-us-did-not-vote-for.html  

The very Kenyans who have no compunction about “toaring kitu kidogo” i.e. offering a small bribe or conversely asking someone seeking service to “ongea vizuru” i.e. give a bribe for said service will take to the streets to complain about “MPigs” or castigate the International Criminal Courts for “finishing off their sons and daughters”. It is this hypocrisy and double-standard that has resulted in a country and a people as synonymous with winning the Boston Marathon as it is/they are with corruption and impunity!

I challenge Kenyans, who are notoriously religious, are prone to being “born again Christian” and are religious (no pun intended) attendants of “prayer rallies” to follow the very teachings of their holy book The Bible and look at the log in their eyes before pointing out the sliver in the eyes of others!

Leave a comment

Filed under Corruption, Democracy, Governance - Kenya, IDPs, International Criminal Court - ICC, International Relations/Global Issues, Justice, Kenya, Law & Order, Life, Politics, Race, Racial Discrimination, Racism, The Hague, Trayvon Martin, Tribalism, Tribe

Baba wa taifa alisema: On proclamations and diktats

http://www.nation.co.ke/News/Uhuru-urges-teachers-to-end-strike/-/1056/1904892/-/p9151oz/-/index.html
http://www.nation.co.ke/News/politics/Embrace-teamwork-Uhuru-urges-Jubilee-MPs-/-/1064/1902316/-/a92h51z/-/index.html
http://www.nation.co.ke/News/Uhuru-sees-deeper-Burundi-ties-/-/1056/1901810/-/7bpw6n/-/index.html
http://www.nation.co.ke/News/-/1056/1899410/-/w2o49hz/-/index.html
http://www.nation.co.ke/News/-/1056/1896904/-/w2q3bhz/-/index.html
http://www.nation.co.ke/News/Guard-against-corruption-Uhuru-tells-PSs/-/1056/1896636/-/1vmcvk/-/index.html
http://www.nation.co.ke/oped/Editorial/Enhance-security-at-port/-/440804/1895588/-/69vsot/-/index.html
http://www.nation.co.ke/News/-/1056/1894886/-/w2rhj5z/-/index.html
http://www.nation.co.ke/oped/Opinion/-/440808/1893362/-/jgdle9z/-/index.html
The fore-going are links to proclamations, directives or orders announced either on behalf of or by President Uhuru Kenyatta since he took office in mid-March 2013 after the Supreme Court ruled in his favor. The list is not comprehensive but methinks is comprehensive enough to make my point:

At the self-imposed 100-day review point of his presidency, the president is flailing.

http://www.nation.co.ke/News/IDPs-ask-Uhuru-to-give-them-land-/-/1056/1894522/-/27fim0/-/index.html

Mr. Kenyatta is jumping from one crisis to another with proclamations, directives, orders and diktats that beg the larger question:

Who is in charge of the institutions tasked with ensuring that the services Mr. Kenyatta is issuing directives on are provided as required?

While issuance of directives, especially those related to foreign affairs and national security are within the purview of the head of state, one wonders why he has to issue them on matters as sundry and benign as “teamwork” and “corruption” if, as we were told during the election victory-induced giddiness, those heading the various ministries were nominated and confirmed on the basis of “…their professional background, merit and experience.”

http://www.nation.co.ke/News/Uhuru-Ruto-pick-23-for-top-ministry-jobs/-/1056/1859232/-/aq1crg/-/index.html .

I would like to believe that a professional and experienced cadre of employees knows the importance of “teamwork”, do not abuse drugs and abhor corruption. Apparently that is not the case in Kenya! The unequivocal and confident presidential testament to the competence of the various cabinet secretaries during their nomination was promptly followed by a groveling and less-than-presidential plea for more time for the competent secretaries to hit their stride! The plea for more time came in the form of a parable by the ICC suspect turned pleader-in-chief; a style of speechifying that the president’s nemesis was repeatedly ridiculed for. Oh the irony!

Said the senior half of the digital duo, tellingly (subliminally?) at a church – ACK St. Paul in Embu: “If you get a wife, a child does not come after only three months. You give her enough time.” Mr. Kenyatta appropriately made this comments in a place people go to confess their sins and ask for forgiveness!

http://www.standardmedia.co.ke/?articleID=2000087807&story_title=uhuru-give-the-government-a-chance-to-deliver

The two diametrically opposed presidential proclamations are juxtaposed next to one another after the digital duo had sold their euphoric jubilants the li(n)es; in a sequence of presidential appearances that could have served as comedic skits right out of a Saturday Night Live or Churchill Live!

Unfortunately, the chain of events is not an act; but an apt metaphor for the bait-and-switch meme most politicians are notorious for. The same meme that has been perfected, packaged and successfully sold to a Kenyan public eager to partake in their share of “matundu ya uhuru” by their so-called leaders. The sad thing is that they, Kenyans, fall for the deception every election cycle! The enraptured jubilants were sold li(n)es they bought hook, line and sinker – as we say stateside.

Yes indeed, choices do have consequences that are painfully bearing out.

http://www.nation.co.ke/News/politics/-/1064/1860598/-/blj8wb/-/index.html

The latest presidential order was issued to Mr. Joseph Ole Lenku, the Cabinet Secretary for Interior Ministry. The minister was ordered to airlift the students involved in the tragic school bus accident in Kisii to Nairobi for treatment.

http://www.nation.co.ke/News/Airlift-Kisii-accident-students-to-KNH/-/1056/1911504/-/ib9m22/-/index.html

Along with the directive was the assurance that “the government will foot the hospital fees.”

A blogger named Zaze said it best with the following:

If it will take the President to intervene in everything including common sense issues like taking the injured to the best medical facilities, then to me that is a symptom of an administration with a knee jerk reactions to issues. It is an administration which is reactive to issues as opposed to being proactive. It is an administration that chases the wind as opposed to harnessing the wind’s powers for the benefit of its people.

While the compassion reflected in the president’s directive is unquestionable, indeed timely, that the directive had to come from Mr. Kenyatta and not the Cabinet Secretary or Secretaries responsible for the issue(s) harkens back to the days of pronouncements and edicts by Kenyatta Pere and Daniel Moi. It is a style of leadership vividly captured by Robert H. Jackson and Carl G. Rosberg in their seminal work on leadership in Africa titled Personal Rule in Black Africa (Pg.108-112). Such proclamations effectively sideline the cabinet secretaries/ministers and in a portending slippery slope, pre-empt the legislative role of parliament and other policymakers; replacing them with the annoying diktats of yesteryears: Baba wa taifa alisema….”

http://www.nation.co.ke/News/politics/Jubilee-government-will-be-known-for-rule-by-fiat/-/1064/1898416/-/49bvnuz/-/index.html

A very disturbing sign.

Leave a comment

Filed under 2013 Presidential Elections, Corruption, Democracy, Elections, Governance - Kenya, Kenya, Law & Order, Politics

Sovereignty, Nationalism and Foreign Aid

So in the past 2-3 weeks, Kenyans have observed President Kenyatta and his deputy William Ruto, toting the country’s well-travelled tin cup, meet with the dreaded “foreigners” America, represented by Microsoft and Japan to ask for assistance implementing the “free laptop” campaign promise and for modernizing the port of Mombasa respectively. The two principals are seeking help from the very entities (west/foreigners) they repeatedly railed against during the run-up to the 2012 elections for “trying to finish them off”. America and Japan represent the very “wazungu” Jubilee supporters rabidly and stridently accused of usurping Kenya’s “sovereignty” and “finishing off their sons” via confirmation of charges against them at The Hague; an institution that was accused by the revered and objective leadership of the African Union of, shudder the thought, being “racist”!

And while Mr. Kenyatta and Mr. Ruto were unabashedly soliciting aid from the west, their latest paramour and much-loved benefactor-of-the-month China is busy buying scrap metal from chronically unemployed and under-employed Kenyans, some who obtain said scrap metal by destroying their country’s own roads and bridges; infrastructure constructed by the same China using labor from; you guessed it: China! And as if the foregoing incestuous behavior and madness is not enough, Kenyans proceed to buy the sub-standard and disposable Haojin motorcycles, probably built using the (scrap?) metal they initially sold to China, at prices probably much higher than the sale price of said scrap metal in transactions between willing sellers and willing buyers!

http://www.nation.co.ke/News/Uhuru-secures-Microsoft-support-for-computers/-/1056/1871904/-/7i517tz/-/index.html

http://www.nation.co.ke/News/-/1056/1873230/-/w41ehaz/-/index.html

http://www.nation.co.ke/News/Scrap-metal-exports-to-China-up-/-/1056/1872490/-/103b8lqz/-/index.html

While I am happy that Microsoft (USA) and Japan are both willing to assist the very “independent” and “proud” Kenya/Kenyans, that the very people – Mr. Kenyatta and Mr. Ruto – who were vilifying and casting aspersions at the hands they are now asking to feed them speaks to the unbelievable hypocrisy of the two men and should give Kenyans and the international community (ICC) pause about their honesty and integrity, especially with regards to the real and active fear of witness-tampering and intimidation.

Beyond pointing out the hypocrisy of President Kenyatta and his deputy, I would be remiss not to question how the two deals with Microsoft and Japan line up against the very real threats posed by foreign aid as depicted in the book Confessions of an Economic Hitman by John Perkins and World on Fire: How Exporting Free Market Democracy Breeds Ethnic Hatred and Global Instability by Amy Chu; the former critiqued by Ms. Rasna Warah in her op-ed piece titled How American governments and corporations colonised oil-rich states.

Demonizing the west while accepting their aid sets the stage for the well-documented history of duplicitous relationships between donor- and recipient-nations not to mention the insidious and potentially corrosive progression of relationships predicated on double-speak. And for those who are tempted to argue that Microsoft is a private company that would not do the (American) government’s “dirty” work, I would point them to the on-going outrage over reports that Verizon Communications, an American company that provides communications, information and entertainment products and services to consumers, businesses and governmental agencies and ostensibly a private company, complied with a court order granted by the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISA) to give the National Security Agency (NSA) details on all telephone calls, both domestic and international.

China, a country with an economy second in size only to that of the USA but with a history of long-term planning and a long-range outlook on relationships appears to be reeling Kenya and Kenyans into its lair at an alarming rate with implications that, while not completely known, have some indicators that should prompt our “digital duo” to proceed with caution.

http://www.guardian.co.uk/guardianweekly/story/0,,2007803,00.html

http://english.caixin.com/2011-11-10/100324752.html

The one difference between the whipping boy de jour and much-maligned west on the one side and China and to a lesser extent Russia on the other is the fact that the former have open/civic societies with mechanisms such as open and free media that would not hesitate to bring attention to any misdeeds and malfeasance by their government and corporations – think Wikileaks and the Pentagon Papers – and for the record, it was a British newspaper, The Guardian, that broke the story about National Security Agency (NSA) data-mining phone numbers from Verizon! Conversely, the latter two – China and Russia – are countries with histories of keeping civic societies on very short and tight leashes. The Russians and Chinese would not hesitate to arrest those with prying eyes/lenses nor are they shy about detaining anyone perceived as “causing trouble” or “threatening national security”; something past Kenyan governments perfected!

Unlike the past when the likes of former president Arap Moi could manipulate the west and organizations such as the World Bank and International Monetary Fund to release financial aid by making token reforms only to resort back to status ante of repression and corruption, the era of multi-party governance in Africa and easy access to the Internet has put in place mechanisms that mitigate abuse of aid. On the other hand and as evidenced by the periodic disruption of Internet services by the authorities, several high-profile failures of infrastructure and introduction of sub-standard and/or tainted product into the market, it is not unreasonable to argue that China has yet to demonstrate the level of tolerance to criticism, vigilance nor institution of effective mechanisms that check and balance its leaders. Finally, given Kenya’s past history of impunity and corruption, one can only speculate on how effective the two sides – Kenya and China – will manage the relationship between two countries with demonstrably intolerant leadership and centralized planning.

As previously mentioned, there is a long and ghastly history of imbalanced and extractive relationships between Kenya (Africa) and the west; that of extracting resources from Africa/Kenya only to return the raw and inexpensive material back to their country of origin in shiny packaged and expensive form! Sadly, the jubilant Kenyan consumers seem willing to pay the piper from the east AND from the west and move on now that “their” sons are in power!

Leave a comment

Filed under Corruption, Democracy, Governance - Kenya, International Criminal Court - ICC, International Relations/Global Issues, Kenya, The Hague

Choices DO have consequences: Corruption, Impunity and Hubris!

I have just finished reading the article titled Tanzania port project a big threat to Kenya’s economy in the June 2 issue of Daily Nation and concluded that the article is further evidence that Kenya’s future will continue to suffer due to the triple threat of corruption, impunity and hubris; threats that go hand in hand in a circular flow where one feeds the other and creates momentum, while periodically stalled, has continued unabated since the Brits “left” the country in 1963.

http://www.nation.co.ke/oped/Opinion/Tanzania-port-project-a-big-threat-to-Kenyas-economy/-/440808/1869420/-/gpa2ij/-/index.html

The story of Kenya’s culture of “kitu kidogo” is legendary and well documented most recently in the book Wuodha: My journey from Kenya to these United States and in the just-released Truth, Justice and Reconciliation Commission (TJRC) Report. The latter a comprehensive and detailed accounting of the country’s sordid past, perpetrated mainly by and/or at the behest of the country’s presidents – Kenyatta Pere, Arap Moi and to a lesser extent, Mwai Kibaki.

Speaking from personal experience, corruption at the port of Mombasa when one is trying to release shipment of goods from overseas not only deprives the government of the much-needed revenue, it frustrates well-meaning, industrious and entrepreneurial individuals including non-Kenyans who are not only bringing in the material and revenue, but may also want to start businesses that may in turn create jobs the country so desperately needs. While trying to clear an automobile I had imported from Japan back in 1998, I dealt with some of the rudest, most incompetent and corrupt individuals I have ever met at the Kenya Ports Authority (KPA) office in Mombasa and from all accounts, the problems persist to this day! I paid kshs. 5000, (~$72 at the prevailing exchange rate) to three different employees at the KPA, all who refused to process my shipment and clearance documentation because, and I quote: My shipping documentation was missing some very important pages. Customer service representatives at the Japanese company I bought the car from were insistent that they had sent all the paperwork related to shipment of the vehicle and given my experience with Japanese quality control, I did not doubt their claim. Finally after three days of epic frustration and wasted vacation time trying to track down the “missing pages”, I hired a “clearing agent” who laughed as he explained to me that the “missing pages” were the shilling notes the port employees were used to finding surreptitiously slipped between the paperwork they were paid to review and process! As if being fleeced by the good folks at the KPA was not enough, the “agent”, a friend from high school friend, disappeared after I had paid him his fees leaving me to navigate the meandering maze that was the clearing process at KPA! I finally cleared the car through customs exactly two weeks and almost 0.4million shillings later!

The notion that Kenya has done well despite lacking the natural resources abundant in the neighboring countries is a feeble attempt at the tried and true we may be corrupt but we are not as corrupt as Nigeria nor as dysfunctional as Somalia feel-good meme most Kenyans resort to every time someone has pointed out the country’s endemic corruption and dysfunctional government/polity. In a sobering reality-check, the article by Murithi Mutiga compares Kenya to Singapore, a country that like Kenya does not have much arable land and almost no minerals but with a standard of living that is light years ahead courtesy of leadership that has been ruthlessly intolerant of corruption! Additionally, one just has to look at the impact of the corruption caused by the coffee boom of the late 70s and by the elephant poaching that peaked at the same time to get a glimpse of what would happen if a country already reeling from wanton corruption had more natural resources! Countless human lives were disrupted and lost to the ensuing violence and greed as Kenyans, led by their leaders partook in the orgy of “magendo” or coffee smuggling. Similarly, the elephant population of the country was almost wiped out by poaching that reportedly benefitted the current president’s mother! The scale and scope of corruption in Kenya continues to be possible because the country’s past three presidents – Kenyatta Pere, Arap Moi and Mwai Kibaki – have actively engaged in and condoned the behavior. Friends and families of the 3 presidents have then followed their lead or as characterized during the presidency of Daniel Arap Moi, “fuatad nyayo” without shame or fear of prosecution. Finally, the public sensing the opportunity and not wanting to be left behind in the relentless pursuit of “mbesha” also engorged at the trough and the culture of “something small” or “kitu kidogo”.

The country’s history of single-party rule, centralized decision-making and strong almost imperial presidencies has exacerbated the intensity of corruption. The idea of co-equal branches of government – executive, legislative and judiciary – was just that – an idea that has not really existed. Kenya’s presidents ruled with near-dictatorial power and total control of ALL instruments of power. Kenyatta Pere, Moi and Kibaki had their sycophants and/or relatives head the various institutions/branches of government designed to check the power of the executive. They also controlled the country’s law enforcement and security apparatus; a concept that is not unusual if the organizations are used to protect and serve the citizenry. To the contrary, Kenya’s security and law enforcement apparatus have been used to strike fear in the hearts of and murder its citizenry even as the level of insecurity and violence in the country has risen unabated.

The Greek concept of hubris, a seemingly abstract and esoteric has been on full display since Kenya obtained its independence in 1963. Kenya’s ruling class, their families and friends, not to mention their well-heeled supporters have comported themselves with pride and arrogance that is astonishing. The arrogance and flippancy is embodied in the recent and popular expression “Move On”. The expression has been used by supporters of the victorious Jubilee Coalition to urge, more like gloat at those in the opposition, mainly CORD and its supporters to accept the verdict of the Supreme Court of Kenya that awarded the 2013 presidential elections to Uhuru Kenyatta and William Ruto and “move on” with their lives. From the assassination of those who fell out of favor with the powers that be – Pio Gama Pinto, Tom Mboya, JM Kariuki, Robert Ouko – to the brutal death of the hundreds and thousands felled by violence such as the Wagalla Massacre, the post-election violence of 2007 and the recent clashes in the Tana Delta reportedly fomented by those seeking to maintain their hold on power. From the massive poaching of Kenya’s elephants and pillaging of its other resources as evidenced by the Goldenberg and Anglo-leasing scandals, the country has “moved on” or lurched from one scandal to the next and one tragedy to the next in a paroxysmal waste of its energy and resources while imbuing the perpetrators of said events with hubris and impunity unrivaled since the days of Meidias, a wealthy and well-connected Athenian, in 348BC. The orator and statesman Demosthenes, in an assault case against Meidias, argued that a democracy’s (Athens) viability and that of the institutions therein is imperiled when the wealthy and well-connected undermine the rule of law, by assaulting others (bodily and property) without suffering the consequences. Kenya’s past is littered with examples of the wealthy and well-connected absolutely undermining the rule of law by plundering public resources and murdering opponents without being held accountable by democratic institutions designed to do that.

Kenya is now faced with challenges that it seems unable to deal with, the New Constitution and euphoria of the peaceful elections notwithstanding. One of the very basic challenges facing it is the insecurity that is rocking various parts of the country. Members of the public are now emulating their leaders and taking the law into their hands while circumventing due process. Frustrated citizens now mete out swift “justice” on suspected criminals. As recent as May 31, 2013, three suspected gangsters linked to a wave of insecurity and violence in Kiminini, Trans Nzoia were accosted by the public as they were being transported to the police station and set ablaze. One witness was quoted as saying that “they decided to lynch the three because they had lost faith in the judicial system.” These incidents are being repeated with alarming regularity throughout the country.

http://www.nation.co.ke/News/-/1056/1868914/-/w4jbc7z/-/index.html

Similarly, beyond the quest for security is the quest for an end to impunity as evidenced by the actions of the villagers of Timboni village who “set ablaze four posh houses worth millions of shillings, claiming they were owned by drug barons.” According to newspaper reports, “the more than 1,500 angry residents gathered at a local mosque for afternoon prayers before descending on the four houses.” A spokesman “vowed that the residents would burn more buildings they believed were built with proceeds from the sale of drugs and lynch the owners because they “were frustrated by an unjust system in which corruption had led to the drug lords buying their freedom from police cells and local courts whenever they are arrested.”

http://www.nation.co.ke/News/-/1056/526270/-/u1wkcl/-/index.html

The contention that the fore-going incidents are anomalies and not reflective of the country is belied by the portmanteau “Nairobbery”; a combination of the words “Nairobi” and “robbery” and macabre ode to the “city in the sun’s” never-ending incidents of carjackings, armed robberies and violent assaults. The name “Nairobbery” is now a fixture in the Urban Dictionary and a term used by the respectable magazine Economist!

http://www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=Nairobbery
http://www.economist.com/node/1276783

One can imagine the country shaking its collective head and similarly having a hearty collective laugh at the rich irony depicted by the picture of the chairman of the Truth, Justice and Reconciliation Commission (TJRC) Mr. Bethuel Kiplagat handing the commission’s final report to Mr. Uhuru Kenyatta. To begin with, the commission recommended that Mr. Kiplagat be investigated for complicity in the Wagalla Massacre of 1984, the murder of Robert Ouko and the comparatively pedestrian charge of land-grabbing! Mr. Kiplagat was handing the report to President Uhuru Kenyatta whose father Jomo was singled out, also by the commission, for engaging in massive land-grabbing schemes, crimes against humanity including the torture and murder of political opponents Pio Gama Pinto and Tom Mboya while simultaneously sending Kenya on its spiral towards the abyss of tribalism and tribal politics; a tactic he learned from the very “foreigners” he was castigating in the run-up to the country’s independence in 1963! And in the very essence of the maxims the fruit does not fall far from the tree and the one about those who refuse to learn from history, the recipient of the report, Kenyatta Son is now facing his own charges of crimes against humanity having been accused of fomenting the post-election violence of 2007 by none other than the very “foreigners” who taught his father to “divide-and-conquer” Kenya along tribal lines!

Unfortunately for Kenyatta Son but equally fortunate for the victims of those previously exempted from punishment for criminal acts, the impunity Kenyatta Pere enjoyed in the 60s and 70s went the way of the dodo as the internet beamed pictures of the violence and carnage wrought by tribal violence in 2007. Those ghastly images reminded an international community still remorseful because of its inaction in Rwanda of its collective responsibility to protect the weak and powerless within. Mr. Uhuru and his deputy are having to answer charges of crimes against humanity at The Hague, the embodiment of the very foreign institutions his father railed against!

http://www.nation.co.ke/News/politics/The-past-returns-to-haunt-Kiplagat/-/1064/1860186/-/fm7sg5z/-/index.html

Given the fore-going, is it any wonder that Kenya’s landlocked regional neighbors – Burundi, Malawi, Rwanda, Uganda, Sudan and S. Sudan – are actively seeking to re-direct their shipments to Dar-es-Salaam, Bagamoyo and Djibouti away from the corrupt and inefficient KPA-run port of Mombasa? With a Transparency International 2012 Corruption Perception Index (CPI) rating of 35 (100 being Zero Corruption) and a global ranking of 102 (out of 176 countries surveyed), Tanzania, Kenya’s “socialist” neighbor to the south is ahead of Mozambique, the other sea-faring country along the eastern coast of Africa with a CPI rating of 31 and ranking of 123 as an alternate gateway to the afore-mentioned landlocked countries. Similarly, Djibouti with a CPI of 36 and a global ranking of 94 is siphoning off business from Ethiopia, Sudan and S. Sudan respectively.

Yes indeed, choices DO have consequences!

For the record, Somalia’s CPI ranking was 174, Eriteria was 150 and Kenya was ranked 139 – the bottom three countries in the eastern part of the continent. Somalia is the poster-child and definition of a failed state. Eriteria gained its independence twenty years ago in 1993. Kenya celebrated its 50th Anniversary of self-rule also known as Madaraka Day on June 1, 2013 – two days before this piece was published!

http://cpi.transparency.org/cpi2012/results/

Leave a comment

Filed under 2013 Presidential Elections, Corruption, Democracy, Elections, Governance - Kenya, Justice, Kenya, Law & Order, Politics