Kenyans have been through a lot. Colonialism humiliated us, exploited us and trampled upon the rights of all our nations and tribes. Dictatorship continued in this vein, enriching the few, while impoverishing the masses.
The decades of disenfranchisement are still felt across all sectors of Kenyan society, it is neither tribe specific or geographically localized. The lack of democracy plagued our nation for too long, and the remnants are still being felt.
However, since the installation of multi-party democracy, not all of these vices have disappeared. Violence, particularly around election time still haunts our lands. 2007 is etched on our collective memory, a national trauma which cannot be forgotten with a mere handshake. Even in the recent elections, too many Kenyans, pawns in a wider political game, lost their lives for the sake of lacklustre leadership and personal aggrandisement.
Yet I come here not to complain or be bitter about past suffering. I come here today with a message of hope. Perhaps as the result of a shrewd political handshake; one of the greatest evils undermining the foundations of our society and moral fabric – corruption – is finally being taken seriously.
Once upon a time in Kenya, fighting corruption was mere lip service; election talk. However, the poetry of campaign season is firmly behind us. Today, we are in the prose of governing, the nitty gritty of every day rule. And now this issue is firmly on the table.
Uhuru Kenyatta is getting tough on corruption at all levels. His DPP, Noordin Haji and DCI head, George Kinoti, have taken a no-nonsense approach which has every corrupt leader looking over their shoulder. Officials at the Kenya Bureau of Standards, Kenya Power, the NYS and other officials from across the government have been arrested and some already charged.
Big names keep popping up. Sospeter Ojaamong, the Busia Governor has been charged with seven graft-related charges. And this is no small matter. The governor has been charged along with a host of other local government officials regarding a fraudulent scheme to the tune of Sh8 million. While this scheme was four years ago, it has taken a new administration with a very different set of tools, and a new spirit of determination to start getting results.
Such fear is there as a result of this arrest that all the other governors have united to demand immunity; a despicable demand from our elected officials, reminiscent of aforementioned less democratic eras.
Then there is Ben Chumo, who as Managing Director of Kenya Power was never a popular figure. Some used to joke that Chumo should be arrested just because of the ludicrously high (and ever growing!) electricity bills that his organisation sent us! But the corruption scandal he is accused of being involved in is far from a joke. In fact, it couldn’t be more serious. Almost half a billion shillings has gone missing under his watch. Not a laughing matter. His successor Ken Tarus too is in the dock, alongside 16 other managers and directors at the parastatal. This case could go down in Kenyan history.
The numbers are not dissimilar with the NYS scandal. Sh468 million has gone missing! Lillian Muthoni Omollo, Richard Ndubai, and nearly 50 others have been charged! Not one, not two, but 46 officials! This is no lip service, nor is this political PR, this is a real war, and Uhuru and his “generals’ Haji and Kinoti are fighting it tooth and nail.
So while we have much to be ashamed of in our past let us restore a bit of Kenyan pride. The corruption fight is real. We have leaders who are taking it seriously. From West to East, South to North, leaders are speaking up. The church and Kenyans imams are speaking in one voice. Even Raila and Uhuru are united, and when these two agree, you know it is serious!
The response of the governors too speaks volumes. The surrounding noise on social media is truly deafening. Indeed there is an old Kikuyu saying that goes, gatinyinyiraga gatari gakunye, roughly translated as ‘no one cries who hasn’t been pinched’, or ‘there is no smoke without fire’.
Corrupt officials are finally being smoked out, and it is time they feel the pinch!