Tag Archives: Corruption

Foreign Intervention: A Necessary Evil To Prevent African Leaders From Being Successors to European Colonialists

President Uhuru Kenyatta recently told Africans and the world to “(F)orget foreign intervention, Africans are better placed to solve their own problems.” In a piece of the same heading in the Daily Nation, Mr. Kenyatta offered the assessment that the work the “founding fathers” of Africa begun is “…far from over…”

Using the tried but tired “blame-the-mzungu” meme that some in the diaspora accuse African-Americans of, the son of Kenya’s first president gave as a reason for Africa’s mediocre and erratic development, the “stiff resistance by those who benefit from a divided Africa.”

That there are those who benefit from a divided Africa is and has been a fait accompli for quite some time. However, seen within the context of the article’s heading, the president’s assertion is misleading. Penning a piece that announces that the continent’s problems are best “solved within rather than through….self-serving foreign intervention” without mentioning the many reasons why the dreams of the continent’s founding fathers lay in ruins is the height of irony and hypocrisy. Nowhere in the rather self-serving article does Mr. Kenyatta mention the many self-inflicted injuries the continent’s leaders have afflicted on the people they lead including corruption, impunity, abuse of humans, and the many isms and evils that continue to wreak havoc on Africans half a century after independence.

Mr. Kenyatta’s government recently unleashed its police force on school children who were demonstrating against a favorite Kenyan past-time originated by his own father – land-grabbing. Setting the police on schoolchildren protesting against the endemic corruption has very little to do with “foreign intervention” in the lives of Kenyans unless the foreigners being alluded to are the Singh brothers who allegedly serve as fronts for the mostly African land-grabbers.

Alfred Keter’s foul-mouthed rant heard and seen all around the world captured in no uncertain terms, the impunity with African leaders comport themselves away from prying eyes and alert ears.

Perpetration of the post-election violence of 2007 which Mr. Kenyatta was recently “acquitted” of was fomented, not by wabeberu or wakaburu:

The violence pitted Kenyans against one another – Luo against Kikuyu against Kalenjin against (fill in the blank). Civil wars pitting Africans against one another, of which the genocide in Rwanda was the worst, has been repeated with amazing regularity since independence. Indeed most of the continent’s killings (over natural resources and political power) have been instigated, indeed funded by foreigners. However, the inconvenient and uncomfortable reality is that the British, Belgians, Americans, French, Portuguese, Russians etc. would not have done so without the help of native Africans.

On a side but cautionary note, the continent’s current love-affair with China, while seemingly benign and a marriage of equals, is even more insidious and dangerous than the wars yore. Out-sourcing the continent’s economic development to a country whose record on freedom, open government and human rights is suspect and is only too willing to indulge the continent’s “big men” so long as they allow extraction of the continent’s natural resources and inflated contracts to build standard gauge railways (SGR) portends an extremely worrying development.

President Kenyatta does no one any favor when he makes lofty pronouncements such as the need for Africa to “jealously guard its sovereignty and assiduously work to secure its freedom” while his own administration moves to curtail the freedoms of those it disagrees with. The president is being disingenuous when he harps about “the exploitation by institutions” (such as the ICC) while institutions in his own government exploit and abuse citizens of Kenya as evidenced by the various unresolved extra-judicial killings and the corruption that has even seeped into his own Office of the President!

Until the continent’s leaders demonstrate a consistent ability to solve crisis in their own backyard, the calls by President Kenyatta will fall on deaf ears and provide ammo for those who decry the self-preservation decisions of the continent’s club for its “big men” – African Union (AU).

In an era of the global village where jet travel can transport the outcome of poor governance by a despot across the oceans in less time than it takes to navigate a rain-soaked Thika Highway, there is little doubt that foreign intervention will be needed in Africa for quite some time. The international community, of which the much-maligned International Criminal Court (ICC) serves as judiciary, would be remiss were it to take Mr. Kenyatta and his fellow “big men” at their word re: eliminating foreign intervention in Africa.

From confronting the Boko Haram menace in Nigeria, al-Shabaab in the Horn of Africa, Ebola and other pandemics, and the mostly West African refugees making the perilous journey across the Mediterranean, Africa has yielded several crises that have morphed into full-fledged global security concerns. A leader in Europe or America would be deemed irresponsible were they to remain passive with such threats developing from afar. Stateside, President Obama has been repeatedly excoriated for his administration’s decisions to intervene in and/or withdraw from various global hotspots. The US President has been taken to task because he allowed the lack of “good” governance in faraway lands to morph into crisis at home in America.

Let me offer a different take on the very quote Mr. Kenyatta uses in his article. A founding Pan-Africanist, Kwame Nkrumah wrote that Africans needed the strength of their combined numbers and resources to protect themselves “from the very positive dangers of returning colonialism in disguised forms.”

“Colonialism” has many variants of which the one perpetrated by the Europeans and Americans is but one. The basic mechanics of “the establishment, exploitation, maintenance, acquisition, and expansion of colony in one territory by a political power from another territory” i.e. colonialism has not changed since the “wazungu” left Africa in the 60s. In 1967, Kenyatta Pere’s nemesis Jaramogi Oginga Odinga offered the rather prescient analysis regarding the mutation of colonialism in his book “Not Yet Uhuru”.

Kenya’s first bona fide opposition leader offered the view that “Kenyans (were) still struggling to prevent (fellow) Kenyans in black skin…..from ruling as successors to the administrators of the colonial era.”

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Filed under Africa, African Union, AU, Big Men, Boko Haram, Corruption, Failed State, Foreign Intervention in Africa, Impunity, Jomo Kenyatta, Kenya

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?

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Insecurity in Kenya and Patriotism

Criticizing an obviously over-whelmed President Uhuru Kenyatta does not make one a “self-hating” “unpatriotic” Kenyan who is “gleeful” about the plight of the country including the on-going attacks on innocent civilians.  Likewise, questioning his administration’s inept and haphazard stewardship of the country including its endemic corruption does not make one a “Raila sycophant”.

Taken together, the fore-going reactions are cynical ploys at deflection by people who willfully overlook the elementary relationship between the leaders they elect into office and the evolution/viability of the country. Such people seem unable to sustain a substantive response to the reality that Emperor Uhuru really has no clothes!

Irish poet Oscar Wilde wrote that “patriotism is the virtue of the vicious” while Englishman Samuel Jackson argued that “patriotism is the last refuge of the scoundrel.” Anyone interested in the meanings of the foregoing quotes can google them because I won’t delve into a protracted discussion about their meaning but suffice to say, I find the quotes very instructive given the on-going discourse on the darkness and uncertainty Kenya and Kenyans are going through.

The recent terrorist attacks in Nairobi and Mombasa have confused and divided Kenyans and like clockwork, one of the fault lines has been along tribal lines. The divide has also pitted rabid flag-wavers and self-proclaimed “patriots” who hold steadfast to the dictum “Kenya: Love it or leave it!” on one side and “unpatriotic” folks who display the bumper sticker “Don’t blame me, I voted for CORD!” between moments of Schadenfreude and acceptance, on the other.

I would add a third category of people who love Kenya but want to see its leadership and people come together and do better. I would then lump the full spectrum of perspectives under the heading “Democracy At Work”; the making of sausage allusion notwithstanding.

In a piece titled “How Kenya lost billions since independence,” Dr. David Ndii of Africa Economics writes that “Uhuru is Kenyatta’s biological son. He is Moi’s political son. It is said he is Kibaki’s godson. Apples don’t fall far trees.” Much like the Anglo Leasing scheme that just cost the country KSh. 1.4Billion for security goods and services yet-to-be-delivered, it is not implausible, irresponsible or “un-patriotic” to posit that the ease and frequency with which the extremist attacks are currently occurring in Kenya has been in the making for some time.

It is disingenuous and naïve to separate Kenya’s history of corruption, nepotism, impunity and tribalism from its on-going flailing fight against extremism, corruption, tribalism and nepotism. The fore-going is the very point Alex Ndegwa makes in the piece “Anglo Leasing follows President Uhuru Kenyatta to State House”. Mr. Ndegwa writes that “…Anglo leasing deals were conceived in 2001 under similar pressure for cash and runaway insecurity, as the spate of terror attacks gripping the country today.”

At the risk of repeating myself and stating the obvious, Kenya is a society where anyone with money or connections can get anything – legally AND illegally – and in the latter scenario, without suffering any consequences in a court of law or in the court of public opinion. This perspective dovetails with Mr. John Githongo’s assertion that “corrupt individuals resort to security matters when other avenues for looting (are) tightened.” The former head of the country’s anti-corruption commission further noted that “one of the major contracts in the Anglo Leasing scam was to have tamper-proof passports as a security matter that was vital for the country”; arguably for its security.

The fact is corruption, nepotism and impunity are not unique to Kenya but to paraphrase Senator Obama during his visit to Kenya in 2006, the three isms have attained crisis-levels in Kenya, the American president’s father’s country of birth.

The world has changed since Kenya’s war with the Shiftas shortly after independence. As romantic as some would like it to be, it is highly unlikely that the tactics used by Kenyatta Pere to deal with the secessionist movement in Kenya’s Northern Frontier DIstrict would work in an era where the internet and jet travel have made possible asymmetrical warfare and attacks by one or two “lone wolves” with extremist views and/or an axe to grind against countries.

Shortly after 9/11, the US put in place systems – Department of Homeland Security – aimed at closing the loopholes that were exploited by the 19 extremists who perpetrated the dastardly acts. Even more important, the bureaucracy was staffed with competent professionals who owed their allegiance to the country, not a person or group. The story of Bernard Kerik offers a glimpse into the seriousness with which the US took the scourge of extremism. It also offers a template that Uhuru can use in structuring and staffing Kenya’s security bureaucracy. The simple version is that Mr. Kerik, a politically-connected former commissioner of NY Police Department withdrew his name from consideration as secretary of DHS because of past indiscretions – “personal challenges” if you may. That he lost out on the cabinet position was the least of his worries because the confirmation process shone a light on his unsavory and criminal past. “Bernie” was discharged from federal custody on October 15, 2013, after serving 5 months of home confinement for a past that begun to unravel during the confirmation hearings.

My point?

Fighting extremism is extremely difficult under the “best” of circumstances.  It is made almost impossible when security systems/measures are staffed/overseen by incompetent and unethical individuals who are seemingly “protected” thanks to their relationship with or proximity to the center of power.

While the foregoing Monday morning quarterbacking is made from the safety and comfort of a café using a laptop, a fact some have used to ridicule my opinions, it dovetails with my larger point on tribalism, nepotism, corruption and their impact on Kenya’s on-going tribulations. With that said, let me offer Kenyatta Son’s own assessment back in 2006. Said the man now leading the country:

“…Anglo-leasing related projects represented three of the most prominent characteristics of corruption in our country. They represent impunity, negligence and recklessness in the management of public resources. They also represent the regrettable feature of lack of responsibility and unaccountable conscience on the part of those charged with the management of national resources that are put under them.”

Plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose.

Kensanity indeed!

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May 29, 2014 · 5:18 AM

Whose turn is it to eat?

NOTE: This piece first appeared as “Liaisons Dangereuse: Kenya’s new BFFs” on August 20, 2013, It has since been revised and modified to reflect recent developments.

In the article titled Kirubi joins Uhuru’s business entourage in China first published in the August 17, 2013 issue of Capital News, the online publication’s owner Mr. Chris Kirubi contends that “…it was time for Africa to look for new development partners who will strive to ensure that all parties get a fair share of the cake”. A result of this presidential junket was the procurement of Chinese funding for the Standard Gauge Railway Project – a kshs. 1.1trillion-plus undertaking that to paraphrase Mr. Kirubi, was supposed to ensure that all parties, presumably involved in the project, got a fair share of the ~$13.7billion project.

http://www.capitalfm.co.ke/news/2013/08/kirubi-joins-uhurus-business-entourage-in-china/

It is “ensuring that all parties got a fair share” of the massive infrastructure project that in part prompted bomb-thrower de jour Nandi Hills MP Alfred Kiptoo Keter to allegedly “look at” President Kenyatta and his deputy Mr. Ruto and tell them to “…get rid of the thieves in their midst” even as he accused the “digital” duo of “….sidelining of Kalenjin professionals in government appointments…”. And in an apparent warning to the increasingly-wobbly Jubilee regime, Mr. Keter’s comments “received adulation from the audience, but stung the president and his deputy to respond at length and in uncharacteristically strong language.” Other opinion leaders and legislatures alike have since lent their voices to Mr. Keter with Mr. Billow Kerrow of sister publication Standard cautioning the president that the sentiments expressed by Nandi MP seems to be resonating “….well with the rank and file URP (United Republican Party) supporters in Rift Valley and elsewhere.

http://www.nation.co.ke/news/34-year-old-MP-giving-Jubilee-sleepless-nights/-/1056/2120718/-/biks8v/-/index.html

http://standardmedia.co.ke/?articleID=2000100758&story_title=mr-president-don-t-sweep-concerns-under-the-carpet

Mr. Kirubi’s take on the nascent relationship between Kenya and China AND Mr. Keter’s recent onslaught against Jubilee are two seemingly disparate events with a common theme aptly captured by the main title of the book by Michela Wrong and Mr. John Githongo It’s our turn to eat. The back cover of the book describes it as an account of how as whistle-blower, Mr. Githongo became “…simultaneously one of the most hated and admired men in Kenya…exploring the factors that continue to blight Africa – ethnic favoritism, government corruption and the smug complacency of….donor nation.” The foregoing summary, in a nutshell, says it all.  

I would argue that Mr. Kirubi’s assessment of the trip to China and Mr. Keter’s reaction at the rally in Eldoret speak to the corruption, ethnic favoritism, nepotism and patronage that has been and continues to be the hallmark of Kenya since it attained independence in 1963. Mr. Keter may have been soliciting “matunda ya uhuru” or “fruits of independence” for “his people” in the ethnically-charged polity that is today’s Kenya. At least he was being open about it and was doing what his constituents elected him to do.

Mr. Kirubi is a businessman with a track record that was built, some would argue, courtesy of a system that restricted enjoyment of “matunda ya uhuru” to a handful of those connected to Kenya’s presidencies; the very point Mr. Keter and Nandi County Assembly Chief Whip Wilson Sang are arguing against even as they advocate it for “their” people! The distribution of Kenya’s national cake has historically been unfair and slanted in favor of specific tribes and regions – those in power or proximal to the center of power. Mr. Kirubi’s call for “partners” that “ensure that all parties get a fair share…” is thus disingenuous given some of the business deals that built his wealth. Regarding privatization of Kenya’s telecommunication sector in the late 90s and early 2000s, Charles Hornsby writes in the book Kenya: A history since Independence that “(T)he resulting dirty tricks and bribery allegation….led to a single preferred bidder, the Mount Kenya Consortium including wealthy…insider Chris Kirubi”; a “favoured son” who made his money in the 1980s and 1990s because of his association with then-president Moi. (pges. 642, 655).

http://www.ghafla.co.ke/news/music/item/9765-allegations-of-capital-fm-s-chris-kirubi-s-corruption-scandals-surface-read-the-shocking-story-here

http://www.forbes.com/sites/mfonobongnsehe/2011/11/16/meet-chris-kirubi-mr-kenya/

In a previous piece titled Liaison Dangereuse: Kenya’s new BFFs, I argue that one of the main reasons Kenya’s economy has lagged behind those of countries it was literally tied with back in the 80s despite heavy involvement of and support from western countries is the toxic cocktail of corruption, tribalism and impunity. The foregoing have all combined to create the exceedingly inefficient and wasteful culture of patronage that is at the centre of the verbal and very public circular firing squad between members of the current ruling coalition. Former president and Finance Minister Mr. Kibaki knowingly or unknowingly made the same argument in a recent speech titled Kenya @50: Of hindsight, Insight and Foresight, Reflections on the State of the Nation

The adage “to the victors go the spoils” is a common and accepted fact of electoral politics. The adage aptly describes distribution of cabinet positions by the winning Jubilee coalition after the 2012 election. It is the same here in the US where the winning party – Democrat or Republican – forms the government; staffing it with party stalwarts and loyalists, ideally from ALL subgroups within the winning coalition. In a slight digression, I will point out that most victorious US presidents make it a point to appoint one or two widely-respected individuals from the losing party to the cabinet. To this end, Democrat Barack Obama appointed former Republican Senator Chuck Hagel to be America’s Raychelle Omamo as Secretary of Defense. The foregoing digression notwithstanding and as was the case during the pre-Civil Rights era in the US, allocation of funds and resources in a fractured society with Kenya’s history should be done with an awareness befitting said history. It is this awareness that prompted the United States to develop quantitative methods such as Affirmative Action and the Standard Metropolitan Statistical Area (SMSA), a precursor to the 2000 Core-based Statistical Area (CBSA) to delineate the demographic breakdown of defined metropolitan areas and ensure that allocation of federal resources was equally distributed to ALL groups including those whose candidates lose elections and those previously shut out by the “tyranny of the majority” who always believe that it is “their turn to eat”! It is this same CBSA metric that is also used by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) to investigate employment discrimination against women and minorities.

http://www.census.gov/population/metro/about/

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Affirmative_action_in_the_United_States

While I support the expansion of Kenya’s business relationships beyond the usual western countries and corporations, it is disingenuous to offer that these new business partnerships are going to be any different than those of yesteryears: From the on-going audio-visuals of the internal machinations within Jubilee, the Chinese have simply replaced the British and Americans as the cash cow that the likes of Mr. Kirubi and other well-connected Kenyans will fatten and eat! It is this reality that Mr. Keter is calling attention to albeit in a narrow and ethnocentric way. To paraphrase Mr. Kisero in his December 22, 2013 piece titled There is more to railway contract row than Keter, the fight to inherit the patronage of yet another Kenyan presidency is intense as are the battles to supplant foreign contractors politically linked to the outgoing regime!

http://www.nation.co.ke/news/There-is-more-to-railway-contract-row-than-Keter/-/1056/2121792/-/15l20otz/-/index.html

Almost a year into their administration, the “digital” duo of Mr. Kenyatta and Mr. Ruto has offered little more than tired platitudes towards addressing the quad-evils of corruption, nepotism, favoritism and patronage; a sentiment vociferously shared by Mr. Alfred Keter.

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Equivocating Corruption and Impunity

“Combating corruption is not straightforward or easy. But it is not impossible, especially with increased public awareness of the problem.”

Dr. Gesami; Secretary, Policy Coordination Office of The Deputy President

http://www.nation.co.ke/oped/Opinion/Improved-governance-the-best-way-to-reduce-corruption/-/440808/1940350/-/item/0/-/le04bbz/-/index.html

The foregoing is quote from an article in the August 7, 2013 issue of the Daily Nation. The piece was written by a Dr. Gesami who is identified by the newspaper as a “Secretary, Policy Coordination Office of The Deputy President.” I could not believe the equivocation and rationalization of and on corruption put forth by a seemingly senior official in the DP’s office. The doctor appeared to be justifying and excusing poor governance and corruption.

Maybe I have been in America for too long, as I am often told but combating corruption, from the spectacular Goldenberg or Anglo-Leasing types to the petty “kitu kidogo” variety that Kenya and Kenyans patented a long time ago is as easy as choosing not to ask for a bribe. It is also as easy as choosing not to pay out a bribe when asked for one. I wondered aloud what was difficult or to quote Ms. Gesami; “not straightforward” about saying “NO” when asked by an officer to “ongea vizuri” after being pulled over, ostensibly because of a nondescript and benign traffic violation such as a broken tail light? If the issue is the widespread culture of corruption that is Kenya and Kenyans, then the country would have already created a professional and well-paid police force with the relevant checks-and-balances to mitigate the culture (of corruption); something it has and cannot do, in part because its leaders continue to be more interested in cementing their (tribe’s) hold on power by creating a force based on tribal/regional allegiance, not professionalism and/or competence. The recent tragedy at the Westgate Mall and the subsequent attempts by government officials to explain the botched rescue efforts not to mention charges of looting by the soldiers is a prime example of equivocation and tolerance of incompetence and corruption at and by the highest levels of the government! For good measures, I will throw in the current storm swirling around Ms. Charity Ngilu, the Cabinet Secretary of Lands and the inevitable “circling the wagons” by “her people” who pleaded with her boss Mr. Kenyatta that “to err is human” and asked that the errant secretary be “forgiven” for her transgressions!

http://diasporamessenger.com/now-ukambani-mps-defend-ngilu/

Dr. Gesami works in the office of the deputy president. She should therefore have access to the best resources Kenya has to offer: Assuming this to be the case, what, therefore, is “not easy” about surreptitiously recording an
exchange between someone attempting to obtain title to a piece of land and a bureaucrat at the Land Bureau to expose any corrupt dealings during the exchange? The US Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) recently asked by the Jubilee government to help investigate the fire at JKIA and the attacks at the Westgate Mall routinely run “sting operations” that expose and take down corrupt politicians and businessmen with ease and regularity here in America. Kenya has the Criminal Investigation Department (CID), not to mention the Kenya Anti-Corruption Commission (KACC), presumably investigative and prosecutorial bodies with adequate resources to emulate the American “feds”.

At the risk of asking the obvious: Is it difficult for the CID and KACC to run the FBI-like “sting operations” because the very people they’d be targeting for investigations are the very people said agencies report and pledge allegiance to? I will argue that the main reason Kenya and Kenyans have continued their corrupt ways is because corruption in its many mutations has existed and continues to exist at the highest level of the society with an impunity that allows the erstwhile Minister for Finance, now president of the country, to flippantly refer to a suspicious and inexplicable kshs. 9billion line item in a supplementary budget as “…a computer error, a typing error or whatever...” without being called to explain said typo or glitch to the nation: A nation that probably does not care because “ their son is being persecuted” by mischievous opponents! http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pMsRIB-6UCg

It is the same impunity that has allowed perpetrators of high crimes and misdemeanors to walk around the country with nary a care in the world…because the crimes they are accused of committing, including murder most foul, of cabinet ministers and of members of parliament (MPs), have long since been swept under the rug…forgotten by all except those affected by said crimes.

Now presiding over Kenya is the same person who was at the helm when the “computer error, a typing error or whatever…” was uncovered at the Ministry of Finance – Mr. Kenyatta – the very person trying to woo investors by “… promising drastic measures to fight corruption…http://www.nation.co.ke/news/politics/Uhuru-Kenyatta-Machakos-Investors-Corruption/-/1064/2066024/-/wdp3dn/-/index.html

Where have we heard that song before?

Oh yes…from Mr. Kenyatta’s predecessors. The current president’s father continued the politics of patronage and of divide-and-conquer when the colonizing Brits “left” Kenya in early 1960s. Jomo aka Mzee continued governing Kenya colonialist-style and in effect cementing corruption and impunity into the fabric of the country and its people. Kenyatta Pere was then succeeded by M1 or Mr. Moi, also Kenyatta Fils’ mentor. Google “Kroll Report on Kenya” for some sobering reading on corruption in Kenya during the Nyayo (Moi) era. He, whose political vision is like that of a giraffe, gave control of the trough that is Kenya to Baba Jimmy and world-renowned economist Mr. Mwai Kibaki. Successive Kenyan presidencies have at one time or another promised to “wipe out corruption”…”end impunity”…or “take stern measures against grafts”.

I remember when President Moi set ablaze a mountain of ivory tusks in late 1989. http://www.nytimes.com/1989/07/19/world/kenya-in-gesture-burns-ivory-tusks.html. Now if ever there was political gamesmanship, drama and spectacular images symbolizing a “resolute” leader taking on the threat posed by poachers who threatened to wipe out the country’s elephants along with the tourist dollars the majestic pachyderms brought into the national coffers, this was it: The ignition of 12 tons of elephant tusks, artfully arranged by pyro technicians should have signaled to all that the Moi government was serious about putting an end to the killing off of Kenya’s elephants. Alas! It did not. The country’s elephants have been poached to the point of extinction in part because implicated in the scourge was the Kenyatta family! (Pges. 312-313, Charles Hornsby, Kenya Since Independence).

The point of the forgoing digression is to illustrate how and why the efforts to stem corruption and impunity in Kenya have been ineffective. The country’s presidents have bequeathed its citizens a country ranked near the bottom (or top) by Transparency International; an international organization that monitors and publicizes political/governmental corruption throughout the world:

http://tikenya.wordpress.com/2012/12/05/kenya-still-perceived-as-a-corrupt-country-both-globally-and-in-africa/ 

Let me blunt:

Until corruption and impunity are dealt with at the very highest level of Kenya’s government, the country will continue to be a poster child for the twin evils while lurching from one scandal to the next even as its leaders “promise drastic measures to fight” the two!

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Dadi Ameleta Peremende: Daddy has brought sweets!

In a previous piece titled “Kusema Na Kutenda – To Say and To Do”, I wrote that “Mr. Kenyatta also needs to deal with the internally-displaced persons (IDPs) AND the land issue without the platitudinous and perfunctory ‘land is a means of production but not something to always fight for. Let us work together in finding a permanent solution to this problem’ line from his stump speeches.”

https://thetwoninetyonetracker.com/2013/04/26/kusema-na-kutenda/

Recent decisions by POK (President of Kenya) point to Kenyatta Son indeed attempting to deal with the country’s seemingly intractable issue of land ownership and its corollary the internally-displaced persons (IDPs). The president recently issued title deeds to over 60,000 residents of the Coast and while the move was welcomed by some, indeed long overdue, the secrecy and haphazard nature of the process does not bode well for the long-term resolution of the land issue.

http://www.standardmedia.co.ke/?articleID=2000092360&story_title=uhuru-issues-titles-as-jubilee-bets-on-land-to-woo-coast

On the surface, one can argue that the president “semad” and is now “tendaring” as in he campaigned on the issue of land and is now carrying out the (campaign) promise. While I give Mr. Kenyatta kudos for tackling Kenya’s problem of land ownership, I question the process he appears to be using to tackle the problem. To a lesser extent and not as vociferously, I also question his motives.

http://www.standardmedia.co.ke/?articleID=2000092362&story_title=celebration-as-president-issues-land-papers

The process was reportedly secretive and in my opinion, harkened back to the days of Kenyatta Pere and his successor Mr. Moi when allocation of land and approval of the loans to buy said land was done in secrecy and benefitted a select few. Mr. Najib Shamsan of the Kenya Land Alliance was quoted as warning “…that the titles being issued could attract a court battle against the commission if there are reports of discrimination in giving land in settlement schemes.”  Mr. Shamsan went on to claim that “there were serious disputes in settlement schemes such as Mwembe Legeza and Ziwa la Ng’ombe in Mombasa and Kijipwa in Kilifi and we doubt whether this has been sorted out.

The perception of “political interference” and diktats by Mr. Kenyatta’s appointee and Lands Secretary Ms. Charity Ngilu runs the risk of creating the same outcome that Mr. Kenyatta’s father Jomo created when he and those close to him interfered with the distribution of land, especially in the Coastal region of the country and in the “white highlands” of the Rift Valley.

Demand for (and issuance of) free land contravened the agreements reached with the colonizers that private property should be protected not to mention the ideological sensibilities that land should be earned not granted.” The foregoing is a quote paraphrased from Daniel Branch’s book KENYA: Between hope and despair, 1963-2011 (Pge, 91). The quote speaks to the pitfalls surrounding ownership and issuance of land that faced Kenya shortly after she attained her independence.

The following quote is from the chairman of the Commission of inquiry on Illegal and Irregular Allocations of Public Lands (2003/2004) aka Ndungu Land Commission Mr. Paul Ndungu before he gave the presentation titled “Tackling land related corruption in Kenya”: Mr. Ndungu told those gathered that “The land laws inherited from the British had literally vested the whole Country in the President, and he and his advisors naturally felt that, just as the British Monarch had the power to alienate land as he pleased, it was perfectly in order for the President to use the same powers in favour of whoever he wished.”

http://siteresources.worldbank.org/RPDLPROGRAM/Resources/459596-1161903702549/S2_Ndungu.pdf

Mr. Uhuru Kenyatta runs the risk of repeating the errant ways of his father if he continues along the monarchical path of land issuance sans consultation with others in the government and by near-royal decree.

I will generously file the fact that the National Land Commission and the Cabinet Secretariat (of Land) do not appear to speak with a unified voice under the heading “growing pains” as a result of the New Constitution. Having said that, I will also point out that the disjointed voice between the two entities underscores the import Mr. Kenyatta should attach to ensuring that the handling of this most sensitive of issues, one at the center of the country’s numerous tribal clashes, be done so in a manner that is beyond reproach and with the sensitivity deserving of an issue that is critical to the stability of the country.

Finally, Mr. Uhuru Kenyatta studied Political Economics at the exclusive and expensive Amherst College in Amherst, Massachusetts; arguably one of the best liberal arts colleges in the United States. He is neither dumb nor naive. The man affectionately referred to as “Njamba” has also demonstrated a keen understanding of history, especially Kenya’s. It would be very unfortunate were he to repeat the mistakes of his father on this very issue of land ownership by allocating or granting land to people in a manner that may be construed as favoring political supporters and with an eye towards upcoming elections.

At the risk of repeating myself, it is this approach to governance that set Kenya on the path towards the tribal animus that erupted into full-scale violence in 2007 and landed Kenyatta Son in front of Ms. Fatou Bensouda on charges of crimes against humanity.

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Filed under Corruption, Failed State, Governance, IDPs, Justice, Kenya, Land, Land Ownership, Land-grabbing

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!

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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