, NAIROBI, Kenya, Jun 13 – Kenya is losing a staggering Sh800 billion to graft every year, according to the United States Ambassador to Kenya Kyle McCarter.
And this, the Ambassador said has made him a constant agitator on the need to bring those culpable to book and repossess what they have illegally amassed- statements likely to stir emotions among politicians.
The envoy who spoke on Thursday said, ironically, the amount stolen from public coffers amounts to the value of President Uhuru Kenyatta’s Big Four Agenda saying Kenyans must make a passionate decision to fight the menace.
His sentiments came on a day Treasury Cabinet Secretary Henry Rotich was expected to present budget estimates to Parliament, amounting to Sh3 trillion.
“There is a big fund available that can fix all your problems. Every year, $8 billion is stolen from this country,” the envoy said firmly. “If we can just take that fund, your problems would be solved. In Kenya, there is a choice to be made.”
Ambassador McCarter was speaking when he addressed students of Kenyatta University and this was in response to an appeal from one of the students seeking help for school fees.
He challenged Kenya’s largest population – the youth and more so university students to step up and join in the renewed war against graft, saying it is their future that is being stolen.
“Do you know how much the Big Four is worth? Sh8 billion,” he said. “This country has a big choice to make.”
The Kenya story, he said can be perfectly told through an anecdote; “Corruption is like a fat dog that comes to your house granary and eats your food. You pet it and then it goes to another house.”
If only Kenyans saw the dog (the corrupt) as a thief, he said: “they would have chased it.”
This he termed it as an outright case “thievery.”
“You still wonder why I talk about thievery?” he posed.
“We need to see this as thievery and not that something our culture has accepted. If you tolerate the thievery, you have no solution. But the solution is stopping the thievery and having integrity. That is the answer.”
He added, “you gonna have to step up as leaders and say no to this.”
The Ambassador is known of making what many terms as controversial statements, more so through his twitter handle.
He said he means every word posted there.
A case at hand was during the National Prayer Breakfast day on May 30, when the envoy said; ” Kenyan leaders are praying and asking for forgiveness for the sin of thievery at the 17th annual National Prayer Breakfast. What a good start to take the nation on the path of prosperity the wananchi deserve. We must all do our part. #stopthesethieves.”
-I mean no disrespect-
It is a platform he has committed to continue using, to address some of the shortcomings ailing the country.
“I don’t think it is disrespectful in any way. I don’t joke on twitter, what I say I mean,” he said.
“I have limited time and when I do spend my time to say something, I mean it.”
He committed to work with all leaders in fighting corruption.
“No one is perfect but that one doesn’t mean you quit,” he asserted. “We have to all do our part to address the thievery that is going on.”
-DCI, DPP visit to the US-
Director of Criminal Investigations George Kinoti alongside Director of Public Prosecutions Noordin Haji are in the United States, where they are hosted by the Department of Justice and the Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI).
The two top officials within Kenya’s criminal justice system have so far discussed with their US counterpart’s anti-corruption efforts and the formation of a Joint Terrorism Task Force in Kenya.
Those are some of the efforts, Ambassador McCarter said will help slay the graft dragon and maybe save the Sh800 billion.
While there have been tens of arrests, Kenyans are yet to witness successful litigation involving multi-million shillings scandal.
Efforts which will be complemented by the recent move by the Central Bank of Kenya to phase out Sh1,000 note by October 1.
Foreign envoys and a section of local leaders have termed the move as bold and timely, more so in the war against graft and money laundering.
Other than the deadline, those opposed to the move say the Central Bank of Kenya flouted the Constitution for using a statue of Kenya’s first President, the late Mzee Jomo Kenyatta.
They argue that this contravenes provisions of Article 234 (4) of the Constitution which provides that the Kenyan currency should only bear images that depict or symbolise Kenya or an aspect of Kenya but shall not bear a portrait of any individual.