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Wednesday, August 27, 2008

John Githongo: "We Have No Time To Lose"

Press statement for immediate release - 27 August 2008

John Githongo has arrived back in Europe after returning to Kenya for the first time in over three years. He has returned to Europe as planned to undertake activities relating to his current commitments outside the country. He is due back in Kenya in September.

Over the course of his week-long trip, John Githongo met the Prime Minister, Vice President and senior political figures, and held meetings with a wide range of business and civil society representatives.

Speaking immediately on return to Europe, John Githongo says:

"This has been an important and formative week for me personally. I have had the opportunity to meet and talk with those who some people call 'ordinary Kenyans', but who are in fact the real heroes of the last few months.

"I have been struck particularly by the impact of external factors such as food and fuel costs on the day-to-day life of Kenyans. The impact on the poor – those that make up over half Kenya's population – is profound. These pressures drive home the need to support national efforts to address these challenges.

"Radical changes need to take place in Kenya, and I believe passionately that the resilience, the drive and the skills of Kenyans will ensure that our country emerges stronger from this process. Most critically of all: we have no time to lose.

"I have put myself at the disposal of the people; I will promote Kenya, and I will continue to champion the beliefs and principles that I and all Kenyans share."


kalamari said...

Hey Chris, was this a sidewalk interview to a third rate radio station or was it an urgent press release?

All this man has said is that he's shocked at the high cost of living and that he wants to help. What else? I'm not sure about you but when I hear Githongo speak, it's almost as if we are back to the height of the violence. I think he's time barred.

All the same I support this fellow in all ways.

Anonymous said...


I don't know why you are fascinated by this self-seeker! You mean he had gone all the way to Kenya just to find out the cost of living. He could have opened and read a newspaper in Europe. He should be honest and say that he had gone to look for a high paying govt job so that he can live in an up-market house with a driver and servants when he comes back. The man is full of himself.

As Kalamari says, this man reminds me of yesterday. He is a shameless self-promoter. The least he can do is to stop evading the court summons and go and tell his story regarding Murungaru's corruption to the court.

The more Githongo talks, the more he exposes his "nobodiness!!"

JEFF said...


I have been here for a long time and i know if it's you who posted this then you were under some pressure. The statement is vague on a number of issues. I also feel there is some measure of arrogance. It is also a reflection of a troubled man experiencing an identity crisis.

Europe is a big place bwana, is he in London, Berlin, Prague, or Abkhazia? Was meeting the PM that important to him, akin to something to die for, or some sort of an endorsement of whatever his crusade is? What was really his mission to Kenya? Did he achieve this? Did he have to come all the way to learn about the biting high fuel prices and high food costs? Why is he evasive on the 'radical changes' that need to happen in Kenya?

And then this loaded one - Chris i know you have been promoting him as a potential presidential candidate - is this it now:

"I have put myself at the disposal of the people; I will promote Kenya, and I will continue to champion the beliefs and principles that I and all Kenyans share."

What is he really asking for? A Job? Endorsement? Empathy? Forgiveness? What services does he feel he can offer his motherland? What has changed that he sees in Kenya differently than it was 2 years ago?

I am baffled!

Kwale said...

I agree with Githongo, "Radical changes need to take place in Kenya…"

The major challenge facing us as a nation is to elevate our national life to the highest level of civilization and prosperity.

In order to achieve that, we need to have a radical movement which campaign for electoral reforms, a reform of the Poor Laws, free trade, educational reforms, social reforms, human rights reforms, prison reforms, public sanitation and housing reforms etc.

The movement should seek to replace the exclusive political power of the aristocracy with a more and proper democratic system which empowers both urban and rural areas, middle and lower classes.

papa plus said...

Yes, I agree completely. We need a movement towards RADICAL change.

The questions become though; how do we replace existing political culture in Kenya? And I mean how do we put the right people with the right ideals in public office?

I dare say not through the (flawed) ballot box. That word RADICAL has a lot of weight to it. Think NRM.

What say you?

papa plus said...

I would ask everyone to re-read the 2nd paragraph of Githongo statement and chew on it and maul it over.

What is the defination of RADICAL change?
Add that to we have NO TIME to loose.

Those are some weighty laden sentences folks...

JEFF said...


If this is what he meant by 'radical' then he is too late on the scene. We have sang this song for a long time. As in nothing new there. The thing is he should have used this opportunity to expound on the purpose and achievements of his trip, and be more specific on the king of radical changes need to happen.

To be honest i was looking for an earth-shaking moment from his visit and when this did not happen, i was disappointed. He even went ahead to embarrass his hosts by proposing 'amnesty' to economic saboteurs! By the way how can you use the words 'amnesty' and 'radical' in the same sentence?

Phil said...

I am happy bloggers and Kenyans at large are finally coming to terms with Raila Odinga's 'its time for change' slogan. Bendera hufuata upepo

That aside Chris, you and your brother Githongo are increasingly sounding desperate. Although both of you live in self-imposed exile, and Whereas its clear Githongo - like Kalonzo Musyoka - is looking for relevance, I am not so sure what your problem is Chris, because Kumekucha remains a leading and authoritative blog.

Why is Githongo talking as if he is a Briton who was on a recent spy/espionage mission in Kenya? The more Githongo continues releasing his meanlingless press statements, the more he continues to loose marks in the eye of the public.

1st - Githongo has faced 'leading' journalists in BBC and elsewhere but I still cant understand why he was unable to field questions at any press conference while he was in Kenya!? We know journalists do their homework and I doubt Githongo would have survived 10 minutes with Kenyan journalists.

2nd - Githongo (Jeff please note) had the previlege to be hosted by the Rt Hon Raila Odinga. This is a honour most Kenyan MPs can only dream of. It goes without saying, the fate of many a politician in Kenya, beginning with Kibaki, lie in the hands of Raila. Githongo was not just hosted by the PM, he was offered a chance to be part of the team the PM is assembling in an effort to build capacity in that office - which according to steadman research enjoy the confidence of more than 80% of Kenyans...I mean it is trusted more than office of the President.

3rd - what is it that Githongo has done that other Kenyans have not done. I know of some citizens who have paid with their own lives for attempting to change this country. Others have been detained without trial for close to a decade. (you know who!). Others started this 'war' even Githongo was born, so whats this 'greatness' about Githongo apart from the fact he is living in self-imposed exile?

4th - I said it here before, and I am repeating it, that the only chance of Githongo ever seeing the inside of parliament will be through a nomination ticket. I do not rate him as someone who could run a succesful campaign to be elected MP - let alone the presidency that Chris is so desperate to promote him to.

5th - apart from undermining the sovereignty of this country, Githongo's actions amount to defection/betrayal of the highest order. Kenya might be poor, corrupt and full of deceptive politicians like Kibaki, but I cannot forsake my country just to please some colonial masters. Let Githongo make sacrifices like Matiba, Odinga, Anyona, JM and others - then we (at least I) will begin to take him seriously.

6th - his failure to face Murangaru head-on is another issue. The former minister threw the challenge - let us meet in court - but Githongo chickened out. This is perhaps the only forum where citizens like us could have unravelled the ghosts behind Anglo Leasing and also determined whether indeed Murungaru is innocent or guilty. His lack of response to Murungaru only has planted some doubt in my mind about just how 'guilty' he is over the Anglo Leasing deals. It also makes me wonder whether Githongo is really telling us the truth!

Otherwise for now, I am greatly disappointed by the actions and utterances of this overrated and cowardly Briton/Kenyan called Githongo.


papa plus said...

There is a lot of subjectivity to your post, no?

You are not going to fault the man for having a higher sense of survival and self preservation by running to exile unlike Matiba who is a former shell of himself, are you?

Githongo blew the whistle and lived to tell the tale.

It's debatable whether he wants to be an MP but all indications so far is that he is not interested in parliament.

The man was given a job by the president and he did his job. Now we are vilifying him for that? Surely there is something wrong here, no?

Vikii said...

The more Githongo talks, the more he continues to lose the little credibility he has in my eyes.

Like I said, intelligence is not a requirement in figuring out the misplaced importance Mr. Githongo attaches to himself. When he issues such political statements like "I place myself at the disposal of the people.....", I pray that he hurries, comes back and joins the political world he so much cherishes. That would provide an ideal opportunity for him to wake up from the slumber of delusion.

When Mr. Githongo talks of the poverty he saw last week, I laugh. How more out-of-touch can one be? Was Githongo not born in Kenya? Has he not led 90% of his adult life in Kenya? I didnt know there was new poverty in Kenya. Someone will have to lay down for me the facts about how poorer Kenyans are than when Mr. Githongo left. He is just beginning to delve in the kind of political rhetoric we so well understand and wink at.

But I have a question; What is it that Githongo did that someone like Maina Kiai hasn't done? Githongo was hired in 2003, he worked for more than a year and all he can show for that or at least what came to characterize his tenure is a tape-recording of the Finance minister and another one about Hon.Kiraitu telling him to go slow. And that is the Kenyan definition of a hero?

"I will continue to champion the beliefs and values that I and all Kenyans share"
Well, that sounds great!

Look at Maina for example; He has been at the forefront condemning the misuse of government resources by govt ministers, he has sought colloquia with judges to deliberate on how to speed up hearings, he has been against 'extra-judicial' killings, he has reported government ministers (very powerful ones at that) to the KACC and the AG's office and he has done so many other things. Why are we not extolling his deeds here? Is it because he has refused to work with the political class? Kenyans will have to open their eyes to this kind of expediency. Mr. Githongo is both a product of and a pawn in very dangerous plitical games.

Prof. Wangari Maathai was famously called a mad woman by Prof. George Saitoti for her gallant fight against the Moi gang's attempt to loot Uhuru Park. I am told they wanted to construct a Beijing-style scy-scrapper there. They pulled off her hair, beat her up and locked her in without trial. She was not doing this for the sake of political power. Why is she the average mama mboga in our eyes?

My concerns are simple here; Why are we rushing to construct heroes from scratch just because the newspapers and the politicians want it that way?
Githongo is not the worst thing to ever happen to Kenya. He is not the best either!

papa plus said...

Aren't we being a wee bit disingenous here. I agree that there have been others who have given much for the benefit of Kenya. But give credit where it is due. By my count, fellows like the late Rev. Mugo and Ouko died for their troubles. In my lifetime, I have not seen anyone other Githongo bring a GK to its knees. What he did benefitted all of us.

Surely are we so proud we can not learn anything from him? The guy is talking about radical change. We are debating his ego...

focus guys, focus. What is the subject of his press release?

Vikii said...

Papa Plus, I will tell you the truth; I hate fanaticism more that anyhing in this world. I dont know anything that turns me off more than the worship of a human being. Since last year, Mr. Githongo has had tens and tens of posts in this blog. My question is; Why should we be so much preoccupied with the opinions of this man? He definitely must have done something that earns him this attention, dont you think? My opinion is that Githongo is a pawn. We must be awake to these cleverly played games by some people to advance their political careers.

About his press release; What is his position on what? Should we sit here and discuss whether Kenyans are poor or not? Who doesnt know that? I am surprised Githongo had to take a flight to Nairobi to find that out! It is such an ordinary statement that I am surprised there are media houses that would consider that newsworthy.

Papa Plus, you will have to understand that nobody is demonising Githongo. What we are saying is that Githongo has done what so many millions of Kenyans have. What we are confronting, Papa Plus, is the attempt to potray him as different from everybody else. He is not and I am sure you know that!

papa plus said...

Well Vikii,

fanatisism is here to stay. I dare say it makes the world go round. Our country is full of people who are fanatical about something or other, be it power, money, etc. As you saw they will even kill for it.

I can not say that I understand your point of view completely but I appreciate it. I have been used to the western culture where they uphold and value anyone who is a pioneer in whatever field. You don't have to be a politician here to show leadership in something that you are good at and have passion for. So while former president Carter had a lackluster term, he has become a leader in foreign affairs; Al Gore has become a leader in the Green movement and so on. So probably that is why I look at Githongo, see that he took on very serious issues and exposed them, and I tend to think that he should be at the forefront in forming and shaping ethics within public office in Kenya. It would be a wasted oppotunity if he is not included in this process for Kenya. It took other countries adopting our runners for us to start honering them with pride, substancial monies and stature in society.

Why can't we do the same for all kenyans who excel in other fields? Just just my opinion.

Vikii said...

No, Papa Plus. someone has to really deserve whatever recognition they get.

I will use the same example you gave; President Carter. Are you sure Carter is considered an "expert" in 'foreign matters' by Americans? Well, that is a new one. Carter, in my opinion, is considered by the majority as a loser with an unenviable habit of undermining elected governments by talking to those countries that hate his without bothering to consult the elected President of his country. He is doing it with Bush and he blackmailed President Clinton about the Haitian crisis in the 90's. His opinion on the Israeli-Pakistani debate also is not the epitome of foreign expertise.

And this is the same thing with Githongo if you really want us to talk about it.

Githongo was given a job by President Kibaki. Of course it is not in my place to say whether Kibaki meant an all-out war on corruption or he was just perfecting the Moi game of gimmickry. What is really wrong, Papa Plus, is Githongo's decision to accept to be used in little partisan games by politicians. You dont have to be a genius to understand that the tapes (whose recording is an ethical issue worth of debate) were released shortly before the referendum. You dont have to have been smart to notice the resurfacing of John Githongo (complete with threats of new tapes) towards the end of last year. That is why I am saying that inasmuch as Mr. Githongo is entitled to his opinions, we should not treat such opinions as expert opinions. We should not even treat them as authentically bipartisan without looking at them closely. My point shuould be clear; Mr Githongo has done nothing to DESERVE the glorifications he gets!

Anonymous said...


Your distaste of idolatry is not genuine. Aren't you the same character who bows, forehead touching the ground, facing the house of Kalonzo Musyoka; seven times during the day and four times during the night?

Aren't you the same man who quit his high upper six figure dollar job at the tender age of 25 to jostle for a position as Kalonzo's aide.

Kwale said...

Jeff, I don't know what Mr. Githongo meant by 'radical'. I am not his supporter neither did I follow his speech during his visit in Kenya, I couldn't give a damn who he is.

What I meant by RADICAL I detailed it down there on my comment and its not too late to implement those ideas or have a movement towards radical change. Note: I am not calling for "Orange Democratic Movement", some of us already know what they stand for.

Vikii said...

I actually meant the Israeli-Palestine debate.

11.38, you are the type I would rather not engage. I dont like fighting losing battles.

papa plus said...

Former president Carter is a noble peace prize holder. he has his imperfections but is widely respected when it comes to issues of human rights and US foreign relations. Unlike Kenya, the US is an open society with a lot more tolerance for divergent views.

Back to Githongo. It seems that we differ essentially on what merits glorification and expertise. I get the feeling that you feel he is still below a certain "standard" to be accorded such attention.

Here is where we part company. Am saying that anyone who goes through the type of experience he went through is an expert. In fact I would say that Githongo is more experienced than any college graduant in government ethics. He has lived it. What we need to do therefore is merge his experience with students of governance and ethics and other folks who have something to contribute in this very wanting aspect of Kenyan politics and governance. Look at CNN and you will see people who worked for political campaigns as talking heads becuase of their experience. I have long advocated that Moi write a book or memoir of his experiences as president so that we can all learn from his experience. That is why Kibaki consults him among other things.

Am not a Githongo fanatic. What i am advocating is for his inclusion with others towards changing political culture in Kenya. Whether he is achieving the status of a demi god is for others to debate.

Vikii said...

Papa Plus, I personally respect Carter. The mere fact that he came from being an obscure gorvernor to beat a sitting President alone warrants respect. But he is not as big as you think. Look at the Democratic Convention taking place now. Leave alone getting as much attention as his colleague President Clinton, he cannot even be compared to the likes of Hillary, Al Gore and John Kerry in the Democratic Party itself. About winning the Nobel Peace Prize, even Hugo Chavez, easily one of the worlds worst dictators, was a nominee in 2005.

Nobody has said that Githongo doesnt have a role to play in the fight against corruption. I expect him to play a way bigger role than being a 'CNN-type'corruption pundit. He definitely has a role to play.

What I will keep saying is that Githongo is not the panacea to Kenya's corruption. He is not an outright authority in the fight. He can certainly be in an anti-corruption team, but we can still have a very credible and able team without him. The Press, starting with where we are right now, has made it look like he has done so much more than everybody else and that the war cannot be won without him. That is just not true.

papa plus said...

That may be true Vikii. Two things though;

The media is a business with a bottom line of making a profit. They need to sell papers and attract viewership and sell advertising space. They do this by pushing controversy among other things.

Secondly, you have to admit that Githongo filled a role in the lives of Kenyans who felt that Kibaki had rightly gone back on his inauguration (in your face Moi) speech to fight corruption. I had high expectations for the NARC GK. Anglo Leasing was a big let down with many many sacred cows and stupid antics like "the money has been returned so it's all good...the scandal that never was..." etc. So Githongo happened onto the scene as a hero. he was standing up to BIG corruption.

Anyway, I get your point. Let us hope that he along with other patriotic Kenyans of good will seeking fundamental change will have the oppotunity to start the ball rolling towards accountability and ethics in GK.


Kwale said...


To clarify, my definition for Radical Movement is better described as favoring or trying to produce thorough political reforms which include dramatic changes to the social order of a society.

Papa Plus, for me to answer your question " …how do we replace existing political culture in Kenya? " I don't know, but its NOT impossible although we have a long way before we can get there. I think we need to study major revolutions that started out of radical reforms, for example the radical electoral and social revolution that happened in Great Britain in 18th to 20th century, the American revolution and the French revolution. I think you can agree there have been major social and economic impacts these revolutions had on those countries.

Anonymous said...


could you be a bit more specific with the radical revolutions?

Kwale said...

Anon 12:33, I don't know what you want me to specify but Radical Revolution in both Great Britain and France and maybe in America were born out of dissatisfaction amongst lower classes, especially the peasantry. The Revolutions, after all, were staged by the middle class and the wealthier members of those society but most of the reforms, especially the economic reforms, benefited only these two groups.
Agricultural enclosure threw many peasants off their farms and into the arms of starvation; economic reforms had spurred tremendous growth in industries, but had also resulted in wildly fluctuating prices and rampant inflation. And that's what fuelled the French revolution.

That's said. I think Kenya need;

1) A robust macro-economic framework that assures low inflation and sustainable budgets.

2) Dynamic, competitive and innovative product markets.

3) Sufficiently flexible labour markets (with no doubt some nuances about what is "sufficient", but most would recognise a too-rigid labour market when they see one)

4) Whatever the size and scope of government, tax bases that are as broad as possible, so that marginal rates are as low as possible.

5) Rising human capital driven by expanding and higher quality education and training

6) An efficient public administration and judiciary that delivers public services (again, on
whatever scale is considered appropriate) as effectively as possible.

Taabu said...

Vikii/Papa Plus,
Way to go chaps aand hats off for keeeping it real and tight with nothing personal nor trivia. If only such quality would be the benchmark.

Vikii said:
...We must be awake to these cleverly played games by some people to advance their political careers........

Couldn't have been more right my bro. It is all about gameswith eyes singularly trained on the PRICE, sivyo? All else is cleverly clothed pretence.

The bile and honey about JG boils down to folks spewing the former seeing a sheme to rain on their party while peddlers of the later count on the smarness to short-circuit the process for expediency. All else is grandstanding and bravado albeit masked.

JG is many things to many people. We have a void crying for filling. Whether he fits the bill is not for me to judge. But his actions and statements rubs boths wayss-sour grapes and vindication, take your pick. Just as a drowning man clutches at straws, deceptive leaders would hate the sight of a potential competitor for the trophy.

There is LEADERSHIP from the front and by example which detractors will readily brand idol worshipping or politically correct fantism. But look around you and the world and see why Anwar Ibrahim can come from prison and 10 year ban from public office only to win by landslide jana against the incumbent. Leadership folks, leadership who will bell the CAT?

Anonymous said...


just curious

those issues are covered in great detail in both the ERS 2002 - 2008and v2030.

there's never been anything wrong with the government strategic plans (short and long term). if you take care to review their strategic plans you will see such documents crafted by experts.

so hope you excuse me but i dont get what exactly is radical about that?

papa plus said...


Yes politics and leadership and in fact life is one big game. No one is disputing that.

Let's assume that Githongo is playing the game. I would have to admit that he is playing it well and inteligently. I have no problem with any Kenyan using his/her smarts to get into power as long as they recognize the responsiblity that comes with public service. Those returning officers and agents who added zeros and pulled numbers out of their asses during the last elections were also playing the game albeit in very careless manner.

I don't buy this idea that Githongo is a puppet to foreign masters simply because I have heard this song played before in 1992 when Moi labeled FORD and the entire opposition (including Kibaki and DP)as puppets of the west. In essense everyone is a puppet in politics. People killed and burned and rigged election spending small fortunes because they were beholden to someone or something.

Again I will reitarate that Githongo is essential in reforming kenya's political culture. If you believe that Africans in general need home grown solutions to their problems, then you will agree that we can not afford to dismiss our own point of view. We should be big enough to get over the fear of someone usurping support for political office because of their brilliance or hard work or charisma or whatever and instead embrace them. That is how we end up with worthy leaders who are respected by all and can therefore get things done. Look at barack Obama. It all started with a speech at the Democratic convention 4 years ago. The rest as they say is history.

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