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.