Punish 'chicken' takers, ignore Raila Odinga's gripe

For the fight against corruption to be effective, there must be no sacred cows or fall guys whenever the vice is mentioned.

The anti-graft vibe must also be devoid of vindictiveness or seem to be settling personal scores.

That is why I find the valour and vigour with which CORD leader Raila Odinga is pushing for prosecution of electoral commission officials over the now infamous chicken-gate saga worrying and suspicious.

But before I argue my case, I must start with three categorical statements: One, corruption is manifestly evil, an existential threat to our country.

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Two, those found to have engaged in corruption must be punished.

Three, no one is exempt from the first two statements.

Our top electoral officers must be held responsible if indeed it is proved that they "ate chicken". Put differently, this should not be misconstrued for a defence of those at the centre of the scandal.

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Far from it, this is an attempt to expose the budding industry of raw and unashamed opportunism, which is confusing political and legal processes in Kenya.

Mine is an effort at unmasking the selective nature in which the masters of opportunism are pursuing their end and in so doing de-legitimising the due processes.

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Firstly, former Prime Minister Raila Odinga is neither an investigator nor a prosecutor.

The passion he seems to have in this particular matter could easily make him to be confused for a determined prosecutor or investigator.

Secondly, the chickens appear to have flown about at a time when Raila was a co-principal in the Grand Coalition Government and supervisor of the Cabinet.

He had the capacity to supervise the defunct IIEC, whose independence at the time had not yet been fully secured in the Constitution.

Thirdly, it is public knowledge that Raila has an axe to grind with the current set of electoral officials arising from the presidential election of 2013.

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After being resoundingly defeated in the first round of the contest, he trained his double dose of consternation and fury on IEBC officials.

Fourthly, and perhaps more important is the selective nature of the current push.

Selective because the CORD leader has chosen to ignore the monumental corruption issues in his home county of Kisumu and serious questions raised in Nairobi County, the seat of the national government.

He has kept mum on the grave matter of the contrived Mumias Sugar Company collapse, a matter whose details have shocked the nation.

The KPMG audit report has detailed how former senior officers oversaw rot in tendering at the sugar company that gradually brought the miller to its knees.

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Why not call for accountability from those former top managers with the same gusto as those in the chicken gate?

The CORD leader's new-found passion to fight graft can only be informed by something else other than desire to cleanse our country of the evil.

And there's the rub! There's the toxin!

Other than the fact that he is pursuing his own agenda with this campaign, he runs the risk of de-legitimising the anti-corruption war by setting up the public against investigators and prosecutors.

Basically, we now have a situation where a largely popular political leader has put the cart before the horse on this matter.

The double standards are equally dangerous, but more danger lies in the potency to confuse the process.

This is an old tactic where one throws a spanner in the works of budding investigations by creating a certain public expectation.

Kenyans should remember where we are coming from.

The least we can do, with elections a few years away, is to insist on credibility among our electoral managers.

This, again, is not to give electoral managers the blank cheque to do what they wish.

Where credibility issues are raised, like they have presently, competent authorities should be given free hand to get to the bottom of the matter once and for all without undue political pressure.

We should tone down the 'chicken' gate rhetoric and allow the EACC to get to the root bottom of the matter.

If it ends up with indictment of the IEBC chair, so be it. But the process must be clean and devoid of pressure and politics.

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Raila Odinga Corruption