, NAIROBI, Kenya, Feb 9 – Until last Friday I reckoned myself as an informed Kenyan well-versed at least with matters legal and strategies for the detection, investigation and prosecution of fraud and corruption. I was rated otherwise by none other than the Hon. Martha Wangari Karua, EGH, M.P., Minister for Justice, National Cohesion and Constitutional Affairs.
According to official government circulars and websites, the Minister for Justice, National Cohesion and Constitutional Affairs is responsible for constitutional matters, legal policy, anti-corruption strategies, integrity and ethics, human rights and social justice as well as the development of the overall policy for the administration of justice in the Republic of Kenya. The minister’s mandate also extends to the general superintendence of the Kenya Anti-Corruption Commission (KACC), the co-ordination of the Governance, Justice, Law and Order Sector (GJLOS), the Public Complaints Standing Committee (Ombudsman) and the Kenya National Commission on Human Rights inter alia.
Even with such an elaborate and glamorous job description Minister Martha Karua does not think it is her business to fight or direct the fight against corruption in Kenya. And she put this down in writing.
Last Friday, I had the temerity to interrupt Minister Karua’s peace and remind her of her duties to the taxpayers of Kenya. In turn I got a stern response characteristic of the minister’s public demeanour. My verbatim text message to the minister read “Waziri, KACC, Police, AG & Judiciary have failed to reign in corruption under your watch as Min. for ‘Justice’. Many are losing faith in you, pse act now!” Her response was swift and stern; “You are ignorant, none is under me police are under Saitoti, AG is a Minister like me and Judiciary is independent. My Ministry formulates policy.” (The text was devoid of punctuations but I have put them to ease comprehension). Curiously the minister did not mention KACC in her response. Or has KACC been moved away from her docket? May be! To her credit, she has in the past scathingly attacked the anti-corruption outfit and even demanded the resignation of its Director and Chief Executive Justice (Rtd) Aaron Gitonga Ringeera over alleged incompetence.
I worked for KACC in 2006 and I have very strong views on the retired judge’s leadership and management style but that is a story for another day.
The import of the minister’s text message is a glaring shirking of responsibility and admission of collective lethargy in the war against corruption in Kenya. Perhaps the learned minister does not understand the plain and ordinary meaning of words and phrases like “policy on administration of justice”, “anti-corruption strategies”, “integrity and ethics”, “human rights and social justice” and “Co-ordination of the Governance, Justice, Law and Order Sector (GJLOS)”. But how can she? She is a powerful person and does not appear before apathetic magistrates, require the protection of irascible policemen and ravenous chiefs or feed on subsidized maize meal. Or maybe she is now too engaged with her ambition to become president that such mundane matters make little sense to her.
Minister Karua would like “ignorant” taxpayers like you and I to believe that her ministry is not responsible for the fight against corruption because she does not control the Kenya Police; the Attorney General is her Cabinet colleague; the Judiciary is independent and her work is just to write academic papers only fit for the shelves. She is admitting what we all know; that no single minister in the Grand “Collusion” Government has the spine to fight corruption because they are all partakers and beneficiaries of the vice. She is admitting lack of a strategic intra-government policy to fight corruption and failure to advise the President, the Prime Minister and her cabinet colleagues. This is gross dereliction of ministerial duty.
Perhaps I am just an ignorant busy body as the minister suggests. You see, I hold a Bachelor’s degree in Law from the University of Nairobi. I am an advocate of the High Court of Kenya and I have a Postgraduate Diploma in Human Resources Management. I am a Certified Public Secretary (Kenya) and a Certified Fraud Examiner and an MBA candidate at Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture & Technology.
Professionally I am the Chairperson of the Association of the Certified Fraud Examiners (ACFE)-Kenya Chapter, member of the Law Society of Kenya’s Human Rights and Ethics Committees, Assistant Politics Editor (Law) for KenyaImagine and member, Institute of Certified Public Secretaries. Privately I chair the Board of Governors, Mweru High School- Nyeri; sit on the Board of Governors, Giathugu Secondary School-Nyeri and serve as member of the Executive Committee of the Public Service Club. Yes, that is the résumé of an ignorant taxpayer according to the Member of Parliament for Gichugu. I have no idea how she rates her constituents most of who are contemporaries of my good old parents.
Minister Martha Karua needs to do one thing; climb down from the lofty tower of legalese and join the ordinary taxpayer who rides a matatu from Dandora to work in the morning and goes back home in the evening the same way. May be she will then understand what “justice” is and perhaps appreciate the role of her ministry in the eyes of taxpayers. It is a long shot, but it is possible. You can do it Waziri!
(The author is an advocate of the High Court. Views expressed in this article do not necessarily represent those of Capital Group Ltd)