“Umoja ni nguvu, utengano ni udhaifu” (Unity is strength, division is weakness) declares the well-known Swahili saying. This wisdom from our ancestors is not something Kenyans have become so well-known for in recent years. Our tribal and religious differences have been more divisive than unifying and it has hurt us in so many ways, all too frequently, literally.
Nevertheless, we have to return to this historic unity if we will be able to move forward substantially as a people, our future depends on it. Perhaps, more than anything, we need to find a common and shared agenda that affects us all, so can become a rallying point for Kenyan unity.
I personally believe that there is no more divisive issue that cuts across tribal and religious lines, than corruption. It has brought so much angst and feelings of helplessness.
I believe that our feelings towards corruption are shared in every corner of the country.
However, our anger should be refocused for the positive rather than merely wailing about the negatives.
In fact, we have a great role model in our president on this very issue. President Uhuru Kenyatta has ensured that the war on corruption has become a clarion call for the nation. Rather than dwell on the divisions it has caused, he has tried to focus on the unions it can create.
Only a few months ago, all the major players in the political and anti-corruption arena were at each other’s throats and passing the buck on who was to blame for the lack of arrests and prosecution for corrupt or fraudulent actions.
In March, The Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission (EACC) had refused to take blame on the fact that there has been no conviction from the 404 ongoing corruption-related cases, the so-called ‘List of Shame’, and instead pointed a finger at then Director of Public Prosecutions Keriako Tobiko.
Politicians from across the political spectrum appeared to use the issue of corruption as a political football, one they would hand off to others to distract from their lack of involvement.
A few months on and everything appears and feels different.
Tobiko has been replaced by the no-nonsense approach of Noordin Haji, who has already gained the public trust with his high-profile arrests and prosecutions.
Additionally, President Kenyatta, knowing that there is strength in unity called on Raila Odinga, his fiercest opposition, to join him in the war on corruption. Other opposition leaders, like Kalonzo Musyoka, soon followed.
With so many moving parts over the last couple of months, one would think, especially with politicians involved, that it would be impossible for President Kenyatta to keep everyone singing from the same hymn sheet.
Nonetheless, this unity is lasting and standing the test of time regardless of those who have tried to place spokes in the wheels.
Some have argued that the EACC should be sidelined, but President Kenyatta has reasoned correctly that it is better to have them in this big tent working with the other relevant bodies than creating bad blood and division.
This strategy appears to be working as the almost daily reports of high-level political and business leaders allegedly involved in corruption arrested piles up.
Like a good coach, President Kenyatta hasn’t rested on his laurels and merely congratulated the team; rather he has called on those like the EACC to go to even greater lengths to end corruption.
Meeting with the heads of the EACC the other day, President Uhuru Kenyatta today assured them that they have his full support and urged them to step up the fight against corruption and economic crimes in the country.
At the same time, the president advised the EACC to work closely with other agencies mandated to fight the vice, adding that the war against graft should not be a source of competition within Government.
President Kenyatta said the anti-corruption fight will bear more fruits if it is conducted through the multi-agency framework which brings together the Directorate of Criminal Investigation (DCI), the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions (ODPP) and the EACC as well as other security agencies.
The president is basically calling for good teamwork, unity and accord in order to fight corruption. It is a clearly laid out strategy that encourages rather than strong-arms, encourages rather than hinders, and unites rather than divides.
This is the central strength of the president’s policy.