BY NGUNJIRI WAMBUGU
Former Minister Raila Odinga used an event in Kisumu to respond to my challenge last week on what I stated as his reasons for seeking to bring down the NYS.
In the President’s presence, he confirmed to Kenyans that he is not fighting the NYS, and fully supports its programs. He then clarified that what he is asking for is accountability. He sounded like he was backtracking after his vicious attacks on the institution the previous week but I will give him benefit of the doubt. I just hope he will explain his new position to his troops who seem to still be working on the earlier script.
But it is also time the CORD leader realised that it is not only CORD that wants transparency and accountability from public institutions. He must also know his anti-corruption rhetoric will be more credible if he started from ‘Jerusalem’; for example explained what his party does with all the money it receives from the government; but let me not divert attention from the anti-corruption fight. I also wish that he did not believe that the only way for him to stay relevant in Kenya’s politics is to criticise Uhuru’s government policies all the time. But you know what they say about an old dog and new tricks.
But let us imagine CORD was to give credit where it is due.
On 26th March 2015 President Kenyatta tabled a list of 175 individuals that he wanted investigated for corruption. Out of that list 117 individuals and three private companies have been prosecuted so far. They include, for the first time in the history of Kenya, Cabinet Secretaries, Permanent Secretaries, CEOs of public institutions, MPs, Senators and Heads of Independent Commissions. Over 40 public officers, 46 county officials, 14 directors of private companies and three private companies are also in court.
President Kenyatta’s government, again for the first time in history, is also prosecuting previous cases of what Kenyans call ‘grand corruption’; crooked transactions in amounts most Kenyans cannot comprehend. Anglo Leasing is a scandal that started under President Moi. Neither Moi nor President Kibaki was able to deal with it. Even Raila himself, a full co-principal in the Coalition government, could do nothing about Anglo Leasing. Today 10 suspects of this infamous Sh10 billion scandal; including a current Senator, former Permanent Secretaries, other former senior government officials; a head of a parastatal, former State House officials and leading international businessmen are in court to answer for it.
President Kenyatta’s government has also introduced a compulsory e-procurement system in all public institutions. A digital payment platform for key government services such as land rates, passport fees, driving licences etc has also been set up. All these interventions have not only enhanced public service delivery, they have also drastically reduced corruption in the public tendering processes.
If CORD were to be sincere they would acknowledge that what President Kenyatta has done about corruption in two years does not compare with what Moi did in 25 years, or Kibaki did in 10. It certainly does not compare with what Raila Odinga did as a Co-Principal for five years.
But CORD leaders do not know that the essence of true leadership is to accept when an opponent has done well; even if it hurts.
Last weekend I was asked to be the Patron of Kandara Central Self Help Group; a group of close to 50 mainly older men from Ngangarithi Village in Nyeri Town constituency. They are all undergoing rehabilitation for alcoholism. They meet on Sundays between 8am and 9am to encourage each other. They also contribute Sh50 a week. They have met for over a year and in the process managed to invest in a ‘boda boda’. They now plan to buy a ‘tuk-tuk’ wagon to carry hay to various farms around. They are also mentoring the ‘boy-child’ in the village; younger men struggling with alcohol.
These ‘wazees’ have been victims of the illicit brews. They know the temptations that drove them into dependence on these drinks. They understand the pain of struggling to get out of it. They live with the challenges of trying to stay out of it. They are succeeding, as well as helping others to stay out or get out. I am proud for them. I will help them as much as I can, to help as many as they can.
Central Kenya MPs spent last weekend raiding drinking dens with media people in tow; all good, but unsustainable. It also makes the President look like he supports hooliganism and use of violence to solve social issues; which he does not. What our leaders now need to do to reclaim our region back from alcoholism is use such wazees as those above; and extend their influence in their respective constituencies. This is sustainable. This will achieve what President Kenyatta has asked of us.
(Wambugu is a Director of Change Associates; a Political Consultancy)