Sunday, December 31, 2006

Corruption Expected to Dominate News in 2007 Again

As 2006 fades away and 2007 ushers in, the war against corruption in Kenya is still in abeyance. Has the war against corruption been lost? That is the question many will be asking themselves. Since 2007 is an election year, allegations and counter-accusations on corruption are expected to dominate the media and political arena again. As we review the events that shaped the war against corruption in 2006 we expect 2007 will be no different.

As a summary, the year 2006 was characterised by high voltage political rhetoric but very little action to eradicate corruption. Opposition politicians were as usual the most outspoken condemning the government for inaction and spread of corruption among its ranks. Angloleasing scandal was the main corruption baggage the government could not get rid off and it gave President Kibaki’s government the most unwanted label of corruption. The government did not hesitate on its part to throw a few salvos to the opposition politicians reminding them that most of them were suspect in corruption scandals of Moi government especially the Goldenberg scandal and even the new Angloleasing scandal. This culminated with the publishing of the Anglo-Leasing and Kitale Prison Land lists of shame by the government.

The year 2006, however, started with the damning Githongo Angloleasing report, made public internationally in the late 2005 by the author. The report immediately claimed its first casualties when two ministers in the Kibaki government were forced to resign. Kenyan Finance Minister David Mwiraria and the Minister for Justice and Constitutional affairs Kiraitu Mirungi resigned after being linked to the corruption scandal. A third Minister David Murungaru, Minister for Security had been dropped from Kibaki’s government reshuffle after the ill-fated constitutional referendum vote in November 2005. The Anglo Leasing scandal also triggered the suspension of four senior civil servants. But the Vice President who was also implicated refused to budge to resignation calls claiming that he was innocent. Kiraitu has since been reinstated, as the Minister for Energy, after the allegations against him could not be supported by evidence.

The Githogo report also saw members of two public institutions, the Parliamentary Accounts Committee (PAC) led by the Official Leader of the opposition Uhuru Kenyatta and the Kenya Anti-Corruption Commission (KACC) led by the Director Justice Aaron Ringera travel to London to interview the author. The PAC report recommended prosecution of those involved. The KACC proposed charges against some of the culprits but the Attorney General returned the files to KACC for lack of adequate investigation. The year 2006 was also characterised by counter-accusations between the KACC and Attorney Generals office which only contributed to slowing down the resolve to fight corruption.

In the ending year, the investigation by an Inquiry Commission on the longest financial scandal in Kenya, the Goldenberg was handed to the government. The report claimed that the former President Daniel arap Moi must have been aware of a scam which cost some $600m. It also recommended the prosecution of Education Minister George Saitoti – the then finance minister under Mr Moi among other personalities. Saitoti was relieved his ministerial job to pave way for prosecution but he moved very fast to the court and had the prosecution against him dismissed. He has since bee reinstated to the same position an action. The reinstatement has been highly condemned national and internationally. Whether Kibaki's action deserves condemnation, when the court has given its decision, depends on the weight we put on our democratic institutions.

One institution that has been on the spotlight in 2006 is the KACC. It has been accused of impartiality, incompetence and laxity. As a consequence, some opposition leaders had threatened to demonstrate to the Directors office and remove him from office. KACC has countered these accusations by referring to cases, that it has dealt with in its website, which was not available at the time of this writing. A glimpse of site reveals a lot of activities that are not brought to the public awareness by the media or politicians.

The courts have handled a number of court cases against corrupt officials but this has not resonated well with the public. High profile candidates seem to miss from the list of the accused. Kenyans love high drama and therefore they would like to see a couple of Ministers in the dock and sentenced to prison. Whether this will happen in 2007 we wait to see. But the electorate should always remember that they have the power to hire and fire their elected leaders. Use your vote to get rid of corrupt leaders.

We take this opportunity to thank our readers for your confidence in us. We promise to continue giving you incisive commentaries and analysis on corruption the coming year.


Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Kenyan MPs' Hefty Pay Increases is an Act of Corruption!

Corruption is a serious indictment to level against our "honourable" MPs especially when the power to award themselves pay hikes is endowed on them by law. The recent pay hike that has aroused public hue and cry was purportedly made under the Statute Bill (Miscellaneous Amendment Act) 2006. It is important therefore to define what we mean by corruption here, so as to place their actions on a proper perspective.

In general life we associate corruption with bribery, kickbacks, or misappropriation of public funds and property. Merriam-Webster online dictionary defines corruption as i) impairment of integrity, virtue, or moral principle ii) inducement to wrong by improper or unlawful means, iii) a departure from the original or from what is pure correct. To what extend can we therefore say that MPs' actions fall within the parameters of this definition?

The first order of business by the current Kenyan Parliament, which was elected on 30 December 2002, was to increase their pay. They voted themselves huge increases in allowances and travelling expenses. Currently, an MP earns a gross salary of over Ksh 800,000. Recently they increased the salary of the President by 300% from Ksh 700,000 to Ksh 3,200,000. At the same time the MPs proposed for themselves a total of Ksh 1,500,000 each as a handshake at the end of the life of the current parliament. The President, however, as a result of pressure from the public has rejected the high pay accorded to him.

It is no doubt that Kenyan MPs, and Ministers are the highest paid politicians in the world. A comparison made with pay of leaders in most developed countries like USA and Britain and some African countries such as South Africa, Nigeria, Tanzania and Uganda by International Jurist Commission - Kenya leaves no doubt to the veracity of this assertion. Furthermore, the high pay compares poorly with the low per capita economic figures in Kenya and the poor performance of the MPs in the parliament. The parliament suffers from chronic lack of quorum, as most MPs do not regularly attend parliamentary sessions. According to the Guardian in 2004 MPs spent 57 days in parliament. Last year their workload was even smaller and only five pieces of legislation were passed. The huge salary awards also compare grimly with the dismal pay Kenyans get in general and the fact that most of the population lives on less than a one US dollar per day.

A recent public survey conducted in Kenya sponsored by the government cited the Parliament as the most corrupt institution. The survey conclusion was based on the general public perception that the hefty increases in pay and emoluments MPs have rewarded themselves in the recent years were unjustified and a blatant abuse of office. The Kenya Times newspaper continues to say that in the case of MPs, the report says, the result could also have been based on the simple expression of general displeasure with the National Assembly or individual MPs based on particular examples of corruption in individual terms. In addition the report said that though MPs are rarely in bribery-demand situations, on the contrary they are alleged to initiate them at least during election campaigns. Others rate the lawmakers as corrupt due to the manner in which they widely buy their way into the National Assembly, the report says. Other factors such as salary levels and the motivation of personnel, the report says, may also have contributed to their lower rankings compared to those of government institutions.

The fact that one is authorised by law to perform certain duties and actions does not imply that the law empowers misuse of that power. What the MPs have done with impunity is to misuse the power granted to them (i.e. to reasonably assess and reward themselves proper pay). They have increased their pay without due regard to the general level of salaries paid to ordinary workers (it does not matter that CEOs and other senior civil servants are paid more, this are not ordinary workers). They have not also taken consideration of the general performance of the economy as well as regard of what other MPs and political leaders earn in the world. Their actions are therefore improper and unlawful. They are also an ethical because they go contrary to the expectation of the majority of the people as the survey above has indicated. The high pay increase is as such a departure from the original and from what is pure correct (reasonable assessment). Furthermore, the high pecks increase is a manifestation of pure greed, which has impaired MPs integrity, virtue and moral principles. It amounts to pure looting and plunder of public resources and economy.

It is not the objective of this Blog to condemn all MPs wholesale. It is, however, the duty of the electorate to thoroughly scrutinise every MP and to ensure that those who fail to pass the test are voted out during the next general election. The electorate has also the sacred duty to salvage the image of the Parliament from a corrupt house to a house of integrity by kicking out the rotten elements. As the ICJ-Kenya has asked "are Kenyans therefore willing to elect leaders who will reduce pay perks for MPs and other senior public servants to a level that our economy can afford?" Moreover, this Blog asks are Kenyans willing to elect persons of integrity who will serve public interest and not MPs’ personal interests first?

Related views
MPs fingured in graft
Vote All MPs Out
Cleric Fury over Kibakis Pay
Kenya Cannot Afford Hefty Salaries for Public Officials
Kenya's Costly Politics - The Guardian

Monday, December 11, 2006

Nobel Peace Price Winner 2006: Elect Clean Leaders to Public Office

Professor Muhamed Yunus the Nobel Peace Price winner 2006 said in an enclusive interview with CNN Jonthan Mann after the award of the Nobel Peace Medal in Oslo 10 December 2006 that to fight corruption it is necessary to elect clean leaders to public office. He added that electing corrupt leaders worsens the incident of corruption as these leaders will grab more and more at the expense of the people and national interest. It is very important therefore to educate the electorate on how to elect clean leaders and lock out the corrupt. The founder of micro-credit Grameen Bank (Village Bank), which gives small loans to the poor especially women, said that he is dedicating his efforts on education of the electorate rather than running for the office himself.

The Noble Peace Laurent's view on fighting corruption supports the perspective advanced in this blog that the most effective way to eliminate corruption in society is to lock out corrupt leaders from public office during elections. In this way the electorate will be sending clear message to those who hold public offices that corruption does not pay and will not be tolerated.

This blog salutes and congratulates Professor Muhamed Yunus and Grameen Bank for the award of this years Nobel Peace Price and his efforts to fight poverty in his country and the world over as the concept of micro-credit is duplicated in other countries.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Ultimate Power Lies with the Electorate

By Michael E. Ranneberger: US Ambassador to Kenya. Addressing members of the American Chamber of Commerce in Kenya at a Nairobi hotel 20.11.2006.

Bringing corrupt officials and businesspeople to justice isn’t just about changing the law. It’s about changing behaviour. The 2007 elections are a major opportunity for Kenyans to do just that by insisting that candidates delineate clear proposed courses of action to deal with corruption, tribalism, and the other challenges facing the country. I believe the electoral process in Kenya — under the watchful oversight of an independent Electoral Commission of Kenya — can be conducted in a constructive, transparent manner. Achieving consensus on electoral reforms will make the electoral process more inclusive and participatory.

During the 2007 electoral process, Kenyans will in effect be setting the agenda for the next five years. This can credibly be done only through an inclusive, candid, national dialogue that leads to development of a substantive agenda to move Kenya forward. A credible, fully participatory national electoral process is the key step forward in the fight against corruption and tribalism, and to maintain the positive momentum in Kenya.

In a democracy, the ultimate power lies not with politicians, nor with the international community, nor with the rich and powerful, but with the ordinary people. They get to decide if they are going to allow a leader to remain in office, or to send him into retirement; they get to reward good governance by extending the tenure in office of those who have lived up to their expectations; or they can — quite literally — hand over power to new leaders who have most effectively articulated a vision to which they subscribe.

Read entire speech here

Monday, November 20, 2006

A Country Divided Cannot Win A War

Abraham Lincoln said a country cannot win a war if divided. Our problem is that our country is divided. There is lack of bipartisanism among our politicians while the issues facing us (insecurity, poverty, constitution making and corruption) call for a united resolve. These are national issues that cannot be defeated if our politicians (government and opposition politicians) are pulling in different directions. Politicians should stop playing hide and seek game with these issues. Unless they stand united we all are going to drown as the country sinks to irredeemable levels.

At least I admire Americans and leaders of other developed countries. They know when to stop partisan politics and stand united to face national threats and issues. I live in Norway and we have gang crimes and security concerns, as well as corruption here too. But what I admire about the politicians here is that they do not play politics with these issues. Both government and opposition stand united, support and pass the necessary policies and laws to fight the menace.

When we look at the Kenya scene what do we see. A government and opposition that cannot agree on anything except their salaries. Recent constitutional negotiations failed because the government wanted a comprehensive constitutional reform and the opposition wanted minimum reforms. There lacked give and take. Couldn't we have both if the parties were committed to success? Similarly, on insecurity the government maintains that it is the work of criminals and the opposition says it is politically motivated without offering proof. The government bans political gatherings until the security is restored and opposition politicians defy this with Kamukunji "prayers". On corruption both parties are living in their own worlds. Both do not see the logs in their own eyes but are busy pointing at each other’s faults. While the country is recovering from economic morass of the last decades, the opposition trashes this by saying that it is a result of drug money and money laundering. After the referendum last year instead of healing both parties recoiled to their political cocoons. The winning party was full of egoism and started issuing ultimatums to the government. You cannot call for dialogue through threats and ultimatums. On the other hand, the government turned inwards to lick its wounds and had no time for dialogue.

The lack of bipartisanism is our own Achilles heel. Until our politicians learn this, politics will remain acutely competitive and destructive. They need to stop and re-examine the direction they are headed and take a different course. All that is need from our politicians (both in the government and the opposition) is to play responsible and accountable politics. They are all on watch from different positions and they should be held accountable for any destruction they occasion the country. Our duty as citizens is not to take sides in the destructive politics of our politicians but to examine and hold them responsible for their actions and omissions. Let us not be deceived by them that one party is guilty than the other. In this case, I think both have failed us.

Monday, November 13, 2006

Which Political Party Can Effectively Fight Corruption?

As the time curtains fall for the Narc government, the fight against corruption is not won yet. The next government after 2007 general election will need to fight corruption effectively if the war is to be won. It is imperative to ask therefore among the foremost political parties in Kenya, which one can effectively do the job when it forms the next government?

Since the duel for the next government is most likely to be between Narc-Kenya and ODM-Kenya, which between them can effectively fight corruption when it forms the government? ODM-Kenya, which is a coalition of some of the current opposition parties, says that it will fiercely fight corruption when it gets into power. They accuse the current Narc government and by extension Narc-Kenya (government de facto) for failing to fight corruption effectively. On the other hand, Narc-Kenya though not the party in power de jure shares in the current Narc government efforts on the fight of corruption especially the creation of anti-corruption institutions and laws. It also shares in the Narc government's claim that war against corruption is in progress and on course.

To answer the question, criteria for effective fight against corruption are needed. Before that, it is important to establish why the current government may have failed in the fight although it has declared zero tolerance on corruption. When Narc government came into power it started on the right course. It sacked 23 high court and court of appeal judges as well as numerous magistrate suspected of corruption in what the then Minister for justice and constitutional affairs Mr. Kiraitu Murungi had nicknamed 'judicial radical surgical operation against corruption'. Although the action was supported by the public, within the Narc coalition partners there were mummers of dissent. The coalition had started manifesting signs of disintegration and was not united on the war against corruption. Ministers and members of parliament associated with Liberal Democratic Party, one of the coalitions partners, defaulted the judicial surgical operation as a political witch hunt of judicial officials belonging to ethnic communities not in favour with the government. The government on the other hand maintained that the fight was not directed to any particular ethnic group but was against the corrupt elements in the judiciary. Later when the former President Mr. Daniel Moi and the former Kanu government officials were put on notice and targeted for corruption investigation, LDP joined hands with Kanu to claim that the government's actions were a political witch hunt. They resolved to defend Moi against any corruption claims. As such Narc government was divided on the war against corruption and could not henceforth effectively wage the war.

As the cracks within the Narc coalition widened and the government became weak and less effective, President Mr. Mwai Kibaki could not effectively rule and was compelled to form a government of national unity to neutralise the opposition within the government and the parliament. He incorporated former Kanu government and other opposition members of parliament into the government. This had the effect of weakening the government's resolve to fight corruption because it could not afford to antagonise its new allies especially those in Kanu. The government had to learn to walk on the tight rope between the Narc coalition and the government of national unity and this meant diluting its resolve to fight corruption. It is during this period that the rapport between Kibaki and Moi improved. The former had to accommodate the latter for the government of national unity to function. At the same time the government had to tone down allegation of corruption against Moi and his former officials.

The lesson from the Narc government informs that the war against corruption requires a united government and political will to effectively investigate and prosecute corruption among other factors such as institutions and laws. A divided government has no chance. Using the united government and political will criteria it is appropriate to ask which between Narc-Kenya and ODM-Kenya stands a better chance of effectively fighting corruption after 2007?

Taking Narc-K first, the party is an offshoot of the Narc coalition. It is formed of members of parliament from the Narc political party partners who have remained faithful to the Kibaki government and leadership. The failure by Narc constituent parties to dissolve themselves and transform into a united political party, is one of the factors that led to the distengration of the coalition as the parties retreated to their former party identities. The Memorandum of Understanding the parties’ leadership had signed at the eve of 2002 general election could not hold them together after the defeat of Kanu and assumption of political power. The MoU instead became Narc's Achilles heel. It lacked flexibility to carry the coalition into the government era after election. Even after the withdrawal of LPD from the Narc coalition, refusal by the Narc Chairperson Mrs. Charity Ngilu to midwife the transformation of the remaining parties to a unitied Narc led to MPs allied to Kibaki to look for a an alternative political outfit in anticipation of 2007 general election.

In the new political realignment in the government, Narc-K is the de facto ruling party while Narc is the de jure government. Narc-K therefore cannot escape the accusation levelled against Narc government failure to combat corruption. But can it fight corruption effectively if it becomes the next government de jure?
As regards the unity factor, I think that Narc-K has good chances of remaining united after the election. After the constitutional referendum 2005 where the government lost to the opposition, the Kibaki government, which is composed mainly of Narc-K MPs, has demonstrated unity not seen there before. The fact that it does not intended to form any pre-election coalition with other political parties may mean also that it has better chances of remaining united after the election. Even if it was to enter into a coalition with other parties in post-election government, it will do so as the stronger party. Any party that it may negotiate coalition with will be a minor party or parties. Narc-K has a further advantage that it has already purged some of its members accused of corruption. This implies that it may not hesitate to deal with corruption within its ranks. Although there are still some ministers with corruption labels hanging on their necks, it is not likely that these will be included in the future Narc-K government. Narc-K has also tried to distance itself from the corrupt members of the current government and the former government. It seems therefore that Narc-K might not carry along the corruption baggages from Narc and Kanu.

Although Narc-K is being labelled a tribal party, this does not hold much water. This also applies to ODM-K. It is true that the parties enjoys huge support from a specific province but it cannot be denied that they have support from other provinces. The referendum vote indicates that there were more than 1 million votes from other provinces voting Yes and therefore supporting the government position. The fact that the parties will also need to form coalitions with other parties outside their province and ethnic sphere punctures the tribal label myth.

Narc-Kenya will on the other hand need to demonstrate the "political will" to fight corruption. The political will is not evident in the current Narc regime and could become the main obstacle in Narc-K. The unity factor, however, could work to its advantage and the political will may not be a big issue after all.

ODM-K origin is the No Vote alliance between the Narc government dissenters in LDP and Kanu the official opposition party during the constitutional referendum 2005. The alliance easily defeated the government on the referendum vote and the current ODM-K is trying to build on that success to challenge the government in the general election. ODM-K is also looking back to the Narc coalition success in 2002 election and hopes it can pull a surprise against the government. But conditions and circumstances have changed from the 2002 election and 2005 referendum. The hatred the electorate had against the Moi Kanu regime may not be there against the Kibaki Narc regime. The poor state of the economy, the Narc government inherited from Kanu, has also shown clear signs of improvement, which is an advantage to the Kibaki government. The referendum vote and election are different and the unity that was there during the referendum may not exist during the general election. Kanu united support was decisive in the referendum but such unity is not expected during the election.

In case ODM-K forms the next government after the general election 2007, can it effectively fight corruption? The unity factor is going to be crucial for ODM-K than it is for Narc-K. ODM-K is a coalition of three parties Kanu, LDP and the little known Labour Party of Kenya. The parties are signing a Memorandum of Understanding among themselves on political power sharing once in the government. The leaders are telling Kenyans that they learnt the lesson in 2002 and this time the MoU is well crafted. That notwithstanding, the MoU could still end up being ODM-K Achilles heel also. The MoU would only work effectively if the parties dissolved themselves into ODM-K. The idea of individual members being supported by LDP and a section of Kanu is aimed at dissolution of the parties into a single party, ODM-K. A section of Kanu and LPK are opposed to individual membership and instead would like corporate membership where the parties retained their identities. A compromise, which allows for both individual and corporate membership is being seen as the way out of the dilemma. This is, however, a postponement of the problem. The same problem that drove Narc to disintegration would plague ODM-K. Unity would be always at risk.

A number of ODM-K top leaders are among the politicians named in corruption scandals. Kanu as a party is also associated with the corruption during Moi reign. As such, Kanu will be liability as fighting corruption is concerned. ODM-K government unity will be put to great test when the issue of fighting corruption arises. The war against corruption by ODM-K would have to start with the coalition's top leaders and number of members of Kanu. ODM-K may end up being really a corruption baggage which would be difficult to off-load without threating the unity of the government.

ODM-K is exuding massive political will to fight corruption as long as it is not in the government. Whether the same enthusiasm will be there, once they form the government, is difficult to say. Narc government portrayed the same political zeal when it got into power but as the political party coalition reality dawned down the enthusiasm waned. ODM-K political will, unlike Narc-K's, has yet to be tested on this line.

Of the two, I think Narc-K stands a better chance of effectively fighting corruption if they form the next government than ODM-K. On a scale of 1-10, 1 being the worst and 10 the best mark, on unity of the government factor, I would give Nark-K 7 and ODM-K 3. As regards political will I would give Narc-K 6 and ODM-K 4.

But as I have maintained in this blog the war against corruption can be decisively won if those allegedly involved in corruption are locked-out of public and elective offices. The time to fight corruption is not after general elections. It is during the general election. It is during the election that the corrupt elements should be stopped from ascending to elective and public office. After the election the government, which is not weighed down by corruption baggages, can effectively investigate and prosecute the corrupt without endangering the government's unity. This is the lesson learnt from the Narc government efforts to fight corruption.

Thursday, November 02, 2006

Let Us Think and Talk About Kenya

In the fight against corruption it is important also to take some time out to think and talk about the nation of Kenya. Sometimes our talk and discussion are focused much on personalities. I am not saying that it is bad and useless to discuss personalities. But when the discussion concentrates on individuals it loses the big perspective of the country. What I would like us to do is to take a mental and conversational switch. Let us change the frame of our thought and talk from personalities to Kenya - the nation of Kenya.

We can start by asking and answering two simple questions.

1) What symbol do you associate with Kenya (Country)?

2) What does this symbol tell you about Kenya? What qualities and emotions does it evoke in you?

I think I will need to define what a symbol is to help others focus on the issue.

A symbol is something that represents something else, esp. a material sign or object that stands for a complex or abstract concept.

For example a rose is a symbol of love.

So what symbol do you associate with Kenya? Is it the Kenyan flag, the national anthem, Kenyan long distant runners, the wild life, the beuatiful landscape etc. Once you choose your symbol you may associate it with qualities and emotion it evoke in you.

For me the symbol that represents Kenya is the Kenyan flag. When I see it, it evokes emotions of respect and pride to be a Kenyan. The flag represents the nation of Kenya, its many different peoples, a country which fought for its independence, the positive culture of Kenya and bastion of peace in Africa. It evokes the emotions expressed in the national anthem, of peace, security, posperity, cultural richness, justice, unity and the strength in unity, liberty and freedom, thanksgiving, nation building, heritage, wealth etc.

Just to remind ourselves the national Anthem here it is,

O God of all creation
Bless this our land and nation
Justice be our shield and defender
May we dwell in unity
Peace and liberty
Plenty be found within our borders.

Let one and all arise
With hearts both strong and true
Service be our earnest endeavour
And our homeland of Kenya
Heritage of splendour
Firm may we stand to defend.

Let all with one accord
In common bond united
Build this our nation together
And the glory of Kenya
The fruit of our labour
Fill every heart with thanksgiving.

I think we need to revist the message in the national anthem and dedicate ourselves to the values envisaged therein. It encapulses the Kenyan DREAM and perhaps this is what as a nation we have forgotten. The dream of Kenya and the founding fathers. We have drifted away from this dream and that all we now see, hear and feel is negativity, evil, corruption, immorality, hatred, tribalism, betrayal, poverty and so on.

I think it is necessary now as a nation to refocus to the positive values in the national anthem and build a new Kenya based on these values. Kenyans need to DREAM again. We have forgotten how to dream. We need much bigger, more challenging and more inspiring dreams. I think the Kenya Vision 2030 is a good dream and we should visualize and work towards it. But we need also political dreams of unity, security, peace etc. The values inscripted in the national anthem should give us the desire, strength and commitmentto fulfil vision 2030.

I know that currently there is a lot of hopelessness and despair among the people and in the nation because of the difficulties the people are facing but we cannot overcome hopelessness and despair by losing hope and despairing. We need to regenerate hope and courage. Just as we cannot fight poverty by focusing on poverty. Instead we must focus on prosperity, wealth and abundance.

Wallace D Wattles says that "if you want to become rich, you must not make a study of poverty. Things are not brought into being by thinking about their opposities. What tends to do away with poverty is not getting of picture of poverty in your mind, but getting pictures of wealth, abundance and possibility into the minds of the poor."

Our leader, writers, artists, media, schools, singers and everybody should endeavour to paint positive pictures of wealth, peace, unity, prosperity, freedom, liberty etc. Not the negativity that has enslaved us for the last decades.

We need a positive thinking.

Friday, October 27, 2006

The Third Political Force Should be Founded on Anti-Corruption Alliance

As the race in the next general election 2007 appears will be a two horse fight between Narc-Kenya and ODM-Kenya, the call for a third political force has intesified. Unfortunately, the shape and form of such a force is not clear yet. Its leadership is also not obvious. Musikari Kombo and Charity Ngilu have been speaking loudly about a third force but I don't think they have what it takes to lead a formidable third force. They are part and parcel of the current crop of politicians who have let Kenyans down . There is therefore a sense of urgency for the formation of a third political force in Kenya to safeguard people's interests and democracy. The two mainstream parties, Narc-Kenya and ODM-Kenya, as they are currently composed, can only perpetuate Narcism and Kanuism.

In the current political landscape, there isn't a clearly organised third political force. But that said, it does not mean that it does not exist. There are many Kenyans who think that the current political elite has betrayed the expectations of Kenyan people, through their corrupt ways and unhealthy political competition and confrontation. As such, they have not been working for the interest of the nation and its people and they are there only to advance their political and parochial agendas.

If present democratic and developmental achievements are to move to the next level, the current political elite should not shepherd that process. The infighting witnessed in Narc, which was entrusted with Kenyan's hope, is evidence of the inherent contradictions facing this group of leaders. ODM-Kenya is now positioning itself to reap from Narc's contradictions just as Narc benefited from Kanu's political mistakes. But in reality handing leadership to ODM-Kenya would mean recycling Kanu back. It is this awareness that makes the need for a third force urgent.

The challenge facing realisation of a third force is that of organisation. The third force exists but it is not organised. Professor Makau Mutua has given pointers to the sectors where the third force can be found. The problem is that these people are there as individuals. To become a formidable force, they need to be organised. Recently, a political party Chama Cha Mwananchi (CCM) was registered and little has been heard of them since. For me, their vision has all the trappings of a third force and goes to confirm the existence of this force.

A third political force should be organised around a dear aspiration of the people of Kenya. Today, the people enjoy a measure of democracy, human rights, social and economic development. They are enjoying these within the current political dispensation. In that case, a third force has to promise something bigger in order to capture the imiginations and hearts of the people. They have to promise higher level of democracy, human rights, social and economic development but also something the others cannot deliver - "a corruption free Kenya". As such, the third force should be formed on anti-corruption alliance.

Promising a corruption free society is not saying that elect us first and then we shall fight corruption. That is what the current Narc regime promised but has failed to deliver. Promising a corrupt free society is saying elect us because we are not corrupt. It is saying don't elect corrupt leaders. It is locking-out the corrupt from any elective and public office. The battle is not a future duel, it is a now war. It is war to be fought and won during the general election. It is only through anti-corruption clarion, that the current corrupt Narc and former Kanu politician can be sent packing out of political and public arena. The people of Kenya should not entrust this task to the government and courts again. It is their task and it should be completed during the election.

The third force has to realise that the only weapon it has is a clean record. They should use it in full against corrupt Narc-Kenya, ODM-Kenya and other politicians. These politicians have to be shown the anti-corruption "red card". They have to be sent out of the political and public service arena.

The next question to ask is whether the third force needs its own political party. Two options may be open here. First option may be to establish their own political party. The second choice is to operate within the existing parties but sponsor their own third force candidates during the general election. Each option has its advantages and disadvantages.

The advantages of the first option is that the third force will have its own identity. They will be the owners of their political party. They will be visible. The disadvantage is whether the people are ready to change loyalty from the already established parties to a new political outfit. Again, it would be important to question whether there is enough time to popularise a new political party before the elections.

The disadvantages with the second option is that the third force will not have a clear identity from the other parties. They will not be the "owners" of the political parties they operate within. The advantage, on the other hand, is that they will not be asking the people to change loyalties from the current political parties to a new one. Instead the message will be, we are sailing in the same boat, but let us get rid of the bad and corrupt elements.

I think the second option would be the best at the moment. The creation of a third force political party may antagonise the electorate. Operating within the existing mainstream parties will not present the electorate with a dilemma of changing parties and will introduce the anti-corruption agenda in the parties. It will be offering electorates a criterion for choosing leaders. The third force will present their candidates for election to compete a longside the mainstream party candidates. The third force task will therefore be to popularise their candidates among the electorate. In that case, the third force will be offering their candidates for election both where Narc-Kenya is strong and also where ODM-Kenya is popular.

Using the above strategy, the third force may end up having the largest number of elected members in the parliament and civic seats. It will be well represented both in the parties that form the government and in the opposition. The third force could therefore have high influence in the politics, government and policies of the day.

Sunday, October 15, 2006

Anti-Corruption Alliance Needed Not Religious Parties

The current debate by some religious leaders for creation of a Religious or Theocratic state is not the right way to solve the problem facing our country. The main problem facing the country today is corruption and lack of uprightness in political leaders. Religious leaders taking over the leadership and establishing a theocratic state would not solve these problems instead it will polarise a country already ethnically divided.

At the same time Kenya is constitutionally a secular state. But this does not mean that the constitution cannot be changed. Fortunately, the constitution making experience informs that changing the constitution is not an easy business in Kenya. Rather than compound the problems facing the country the leaders need to be positively creative by building a broad anti-corruption and uprightness alliance.

Forming anti-corruption alliance is the best possible solution to the problems of corruption and lack of upright leaders. Religious leaders should rally their faithful and other Kenyans under the anti-corruption banner. Anti-corruption alliance need not be a political party but a common criteria for identifying political leaders to sponsor using exisiting political parties. For example, religious leaders can exercise great influence in the next general election by advising their faithful not to elect known corrupt persons or person of dubious moral standing into political positions. If a party nominates a corrupt or morally undesirable candidate, the electorate should be advised to reject the candidate and vote for a rival anti-corrupt and morally upright candidate. I think religious leaders can exercise political leadership and influence through their teaching rather than turning the country into a religious conflict zone by introducing divisive religious theocracy.

Anti-corruption alliance is more appealing to the majority of the people than a theocracy. Most Kenyans are tired and loath corruption especially in the high political echelons. Every ethnic group in kenya does not want corruption. Workers, christians, muslims, hindus, women, the youth, students, and every other Kenyan hate corruption. Anti-corruption is the most unifying and moblising concept in the country today. Why not use it to get rid of politics of corruption and moral decadence in our society?

Related stories:
AGANO religious party registered
Cleric opposes religious party
NCCK denounces Christian party
Agano not a religious party, say officials

Friday, October 13, 2006

Anglo Leasing List of Shame

On 20 September 2006, the minister for Justice and Constitutional Affairs Ms Martha Karua released what she termed as the Anglo Leasing list of shame. The list includes names of two current ministers in President Mwai Kibaki’s government (Narc) and eight former ministers both in former President Moi’s government (Kanu) and Kibaki’s government. It also includes names of 12 permanent secretaries in both Kanu and Narc governments.

The list of names and the type of contracts covered the period between 1997 and 2002 when Kanu was in power and 2003 to 2004 when Narc was in charge. The current sitting ministers are Vice-President and Minister for Home Affairs Moddy Awori and Minister for Roads Simeon Nyachae. The former ministers in the Kanu government are Musila Mudavadi, William Ruto, Chris Okem, Julius Sunkuli, Chris Obure and William ole Ntimama. Those in the Narc government are David Mwiraria and Dr. Chris Murungaru.

The government seems to have changed tactic and is now willing to hold ministers, in whose watch the Anglo Leasing contracts were signed, accountable. Prior to this, only permanent secretaries were charged in court in relations to the corruption contracts. Ms Karua said she was making the names public in order to stop the Opposition from blaming the Government over all the fraudulent deals. According to her some of the opposition politicians shouting corruption loudest were heavily implicated and the public was entitled to know this.

The permanent secretaries mentioned in relation to Anglo Leasing corruption contracts are Sylvester Mwaliko, sammy Kyungu, David Mwangi, Joseph Magari, Ali Korane, Margaret Chmengich, Zakayo Cheruiyot, Mwaghazi Mwachofi, Simeon Lesirma, Moses Obudo and S. K. Bondotich (financial secretary).

Anglo Leasing corruption scandal involves a total of 20 shady government contracts. They began during Moi’s era and continued during Kibaki’s rule. Unearthed in 2004, the contracts involved dubious, multi-million dollar contracts for supplying Kenya with a system to produce tamper-proof passports, and for building police forensic laboratories among others. The deals involved Anglo Leasing and Finance Ltd -- a fictitious company.

The main contention regarding accountability of those involved has been where to place the blame. Is it on the ministers who are the political heads of the ministries and who do not have the power to sign the contracts? Or is it with the permanent secretaries who are the executive heads of the ministries and who wield the power to sign such contracts? Ministers named in the scandal exonerate themselves claiming that they are not guilty because they did not sign the contracts. The cases already brought in court have involved only the permanent secretaries but in a recent move the Kenya anti-corruption commission has recommended the prosecution of ministers.

I think the issue of accountability can be viewed from two perspectives: legal and political (ethical). Under the legal perspective, the issue of guilt is a matter of interpretation by the court. It is the court that will decide where to place the blame either on the ministers or the permanent secretaries or both.

As regards political and ethical accountability, I think the ministers named in the scandal have no choice but to resign from their public offices awaiting further investigations and determination of guilt by the court of law. It is hypocritical for any minister or politician to claim that they cannot resign until evidence is adduced. Similarly, it would also be hypocritical for any politician named in corruption scandal to vie for any public office elective or otherwise. Corruption allegations are serious and they should be treated with due seriousness.

Friday, October 06, 2006

Kitale Prison Land List of Shame

On 4 Octobe 2006 the Vice-President and Minster for home affairs Moody Awori tabled in Parliament the list of 204 people said to have been allocated the controversial Kitale Prison land measuring 2,094 acres two decades ago. The beneficiaries were mainly top officials in the former President Moi's administration. The land was subdivided into 204 parcels of land and distributed to the beneficiaries. The release of this list of shame is welcome.

The allottees, Mr Awori said, include politicians, former diplomats, an ex-judge, military and police officers, parastatal heads as well as provincial and district commissioners.

The main beneficiaries were named as former Chief of General Staff Daudi Tonje, who is said to have been given 20.23 hectares, civil aviation director Chris Kuto (1.67), former nominated MP Mark Too (28), former presidential escort director Samson Cheramboss (12.14) and Mr Stanley Manyinya (eight).

Ex-judge Alex Etyang received eight hectares, former diplomat George Nadada Oimino Agoi (six hectares), senior military officer Moses Yatur (eight) and colleague Hezron Ambundo Murungu (six).

Others were former Kenya Seed Company managing director Nathaniel Tum, who got 22 hectares as well as provincial commissioners Peter Kiilu (four), William Changole (four), Amos Bore (24.23 hectares for two parcels), Nicholas Mberia (8.89) and Ishmael Chelang'a (three).

The Harambee Savings and Credit Cooperative Society was also given two parcels of six and two hectares.

Mr Awori said that the Government would act on the deal according to recommendations in the Ndung'u report on irregularly allocated public land. In the past the government has asked the beneficiaries of illegal land allotment to surrender their plots and forego prosecution.

As expected those mentioned are already daring the government to reposses their land swearing not to surrender their parcels of land. They maintain that the land was distributed to them legally. They have vowed to defend their property in court of law.

The posturing by these Kings of corruption confirms the magnitude of the task of fighting corruption facing the government. The government, however, should not relent. It should face the culprits at whatever arena they want to defend themselves. After all, just like other citizens they have a right to defend themselves in a court of law. The people should, however, give the government their support and deprive the culprits any ethnic community support and sympathy.

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Amnesty on Corruption should include a Ban from Public Office

Justice and Constitutional Affairs Minister Martha Karua offer for amnesty to corruption tainted politicians is welcome but it should not be without a caveat. It is true that corruption cases take long to be concluded. It is also true that Kenya needs unity and corruption seems to have divided the country into tribal groupings with each community defending its corrupt sons and daughters. It is also true that Kenya needs healing. But it is also true that the country needs justice. It is therefore doubtful that the return of looted money and property and forgiveness of the looters will lead to healing and justice.

Amnesty is a noble gesture from the government and should be embraced. Those who have stolen public funds and properties should return them. This is called restitution - "the act of restoring an object to the rightful owner". Here, we are talking about billions of shillings which if they were returned, Kenyans could enjoy the benefits of roads, hospitals, medicine, education and other social amenities. Restitution is not therefore foolhardy because if the court route were pursued exclusively, it could take decades to recover the monies as the Goldenberg scandal has proved. The society needs the money for development as such it is best to use the shortest possible means to get the money back.

Restitution alone, however, is not adequate as it does not compensate the loss of use of the money and properties for years. It may get the culprits out of the hook but it does not serve justice. The victims, the people of Kenya in this case, still have to bear the gross weight of loss suffered for years. Jail term for the culprits could give a sense of justice but it would be costly and consume more public resources as seen with the Goldenberg scandal where the investigating commission gulped hundreds of millions of shillings. Still, after a decade of pursuit of culprits none has been jailed yet.

In this case, I think that amnesty should not mean that the politician go scot-free by mere return of the stolen public goodies. For justice to be done and be seen to be done, a deterrent measure is required. The politicians and other culprits should also be barred from holding public office for life. It is only through such extra demand that a clear message can be sent that corruption does not pay. Otherwise, if the same people were allowed back into public life as if nothing happened, corruption will be seen as unconventional way to loan money from the public and return it when public pressure is applied or at the conveniece of the culprit.

Amnesty should also be restricted to past and known corruption incidents. New corruption should be dealt with through the normal administration of justice procedures. While the cost and delay reasons could justifiably apply for past corruption, it cannot apply to new corruption. Today, laws and institutions to deal with corruption are in place and they should be invoked in case of new corruption without inordinate delay.

See what Kenyans are saying:

Monday, October 02, 2006

A New Anti-Corruption Party Formed

This blog welcomes Chama Cha Mwananchi (CCM) as a party with a difference. In particular, it recognises with appreciation the anti-corruption stand of the party. But we must add that, the writer and this blog is not a member or mouthpiece of CCM. We just appreciate and support an idea whose time has come.

The party which draws its membership from the former political prisoners and government critics is emphatic that it would not admit people with tainted record in its rank and file. It adds that CMM is not and shall not be a den of thieves or a hideout for oppressors, dictators, murderers, Goldenberg thieves, Anglo Leasing plunderers, corrupt politicians and incitersof racial and tribal hatred."

The party leadership is composed of former political prisoners and detainees. Dick Kamau who is the sectary-general of the party is the only known official so far. The rest are not officially revealed yet.

The Kill Corruption Monster blog sees the formation of CCM as a milestone in Kenyan politics because as we have argued there is need to lock-out corrupt tainted politicians out of public office if the war against corruption is to be won. It also means that next general election will be fought on an anti-corruption agenda and not a fight between Narc-Kenya and ODM-Kenya.

Parties that fail to lock-out corrupt tainted politician out of the election race should know that anti-corruption is bound to influence voters opinion in the election. We hope that CCM will become a formidable party given its focus on corruption and other political impropriety. Especially, we hope the message to lock-out those politicians that are linked to corruption out of political arena will hit resonant note with the electorate and the public.

Friday, September 29, 2006

Lock-Out Corrupt Politicians from Parliament and Public Office

Corruption is endemic in Kenya. The slow fight on corruption experience of last few years indicates how difficult it is to kill the corruption monster rampaging our country and society. It has also revealed that, entrusting the task of eradicating corruption to a corrupt political elite does not work. A shift of paradigm - a radical surgical war on corruption is required. In the new paradigm, new anti-corruption crusaders and a new focus are required.

New anti-corruption crusaders

The war on corruption has been lost because it is led by corrupt politicians. They are the persons shouting corruption loudest. They are the ones pointing to us who is corrupt and who should be kicked out of public office. But do we need persons on Anglo-leasing list of shame, Goldenberg list of shame, Land Grabbing list of shame, or any other corruption list of shame lecturing the public on corruption or standing on gates and fences shouting others out of office? Is'nt it time to put a stop on these corrupt elites?

The new anti-corruption crusaders should be the people of Kenya. It is the people who can kill the corruption monster perpetuated by the politicians. I say this because i believe 99% of the Kenyan people are not corrupt. Corruption is perpetuated by 1% of the population led by corrupt leaders. So if the anti-corruption crusade is led by majority of the population it will surely win against corruption. In that case, the anti-corruption crusade should be championed by uncorrupt leaders. That is uncorrupt politicians, uncorrupt civil society and church leaders, uncorrupt women leaders, uncorrupt youth leaders, uncorrupt community and local leaders, uncorrupt civil servants and teachers, uncorrupt policemen and policewomen, uncorrupt judges etc. The corrupt should be removed from the arena.

A New Focus

The war on corruption can only be won by change of focus. In the past the focus has been shaped by corrupt political elites. But in the new war, the focus should switch to the corrupt politicians themselves before it moves to other sectors of society. Justice Minister Martha Karua has already changed the focus paradigm by casting the corruption spotlight on the corrupt. As such, we need efforts of more daring and youthful uncorrupt political leaders like Martha Karua to champion the crusade. It is high time the politicians stood to be counted. It is time to separate the corrupt from the uncorrupt. The corrupt should be rejected by the people and be locked-out of parliament and public office.

2007 General Elections Golden Opportunity

The 2007 general election is a golden opportunity for the people of Kenya to eradicate corruption in Kenya for all times. Voters should be educated that 2007 election is anti-corruption election, in which all corrupt leaders civic, parliamentary and presidential will be thoroughly scrutinised and locked-out of public office if found corrupt.

To assist the public to differentiate the corrupt from uncorrupt more lists of shame should be released. But the lists should not be arbitrary. They should be based on evidence of commission or omission but need not be conclusive such as required by court of law. The anti-corruption war is a moral, political and social war and cannot wait for the anti-corruption commission, the attorney general or the courts to investigate, prosecute and convict. To do so, war against corruption will never be won.

Corruption war is about perception we have been told many times by our leaders. The electorate should apply the perception principle in the 2007 election and lock-out the leaders perceived to be corrupt either in the governement or opposition. Perception principle was applied when leaders called for the resignation and firing out of office of corrupt government officials and ministers namely Murungaru, Kiraitu, Saitoti, Mwiraria, etc. The perception principle requires that those named, mentioned and associated with corruption or those who corruption took place during their watch to step aside for the investigations to be carried out. If the electorate apply the perception principle most of the current crop of politicians will be locked-out of civic, parliamentary and presidential races in 2007. As such, Kenya would be saved from the grip of corrupt politicians and regain its moral respect and integrity.


In the next general election, the fight is not between Narc-Kenya and ODM-Kenya (corruption v. corruption) as we are told by the corrupt political elite. The fight is about corruption (anti-corruption v. corruption). It is about eradicating corruption in the country starting with the elective public offices. Electorates will be voting for corruption if they elect corruption tainted leaders or anti-corruption if they elect uncorrupt leaders. In most civilised societies a mere allegation of corruption or other impropriety is enough to cast doubt about a politician's election candidature. Kenyans need to civilise the country by locking-out those tainted by corruption from public office.