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Wednesday, April 01, 2015

Is Kenya Serious About Fighting Corruption This Time Round?

Flashback to January 2003. President Mwai Kibaki, the very first popularly elected president in the history of Kenya repeated again and again that his new government would have zero tolerance for corruption.

Kenyans read with glee a story in the authoritative Eastafrican which said that various parastatal heads who had arrived at State house Nairobi with briefcases filled with cash had been turned away by the head of state who wondered what all the cash was for. "So this is what you used to do with Moi?"

The new dawn in the banana republic quickly spread amongst the public and a daily newspaper reported about a case where a traffic policeman asking a matatu driver for a bribe was "arrested" by wananchi and frog-matched to the police station.

It looked like the country had finally confronted the big bad wolf called corruption which had suffocated it for decades without mercy.

But then suddenly strange things began to happen in government and the Kibaki administration started looking extremely vulnerable and shaky. To cut a long story short it was corruption and going back to old habits that finally stabilized the Kibaki administration.

The terrible truth is that Kenya runs on corruption. In fact the view of a vast majority of experienced politicians is that corruption is the lesser evil because without it we would all have to contend with instability. Mwai Kibaki's intentions were good but he made the mistake of failing to find a strong alternative or "crutch" for the country to lean on for stability.

And so the question now has to be has President Uhuru Kenyatta found that alternative "crutch"? And if so what is it? What will oil the volatile political wheels in the country as dozens of public officers "step aside" to be investigated over corruption allegations?

Most analysts insist that nothing has changed and nothing will change. All we are witnessing is a massive PR exercise to clean up the image of the government. They point to the fact that we now even have tight timelines for the "stepping aside" circus which is 60 days. These analysts predict that at the end of the 60 days the said individuals will be found "clean" and will promptly return to their plum jobs and corrupt ways. There may be of course one or two scape goats who will carry the sins of all others.

Indeed who says that those charged with the investigations cannot be bribed to find their subjects "safi kama pamba" (clean as white cotton wool)?

This is Kenya my friend.

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