Money is sweet. Money obtained corruptly seems even sweeter. But it is not. Like wearing a stolen jacket, one keeps looking over the shoulder fearing that the owner might spot it and embarrass him, but keeps hoping it won’t happen.
Wealth obtained through corruption is stolen property. And like all stolen property, culpability falls on both the thief and the beneficiaries. Ever heard of a crime called handling stolen property? That is what children, spouses, relatives and friends of corrupt individuals are guilty of whenever they drive cars, sleep in houses and even eat food bought with money stolen from the public through corrupt means.
So the next time you sell that towel at Sh100,000, remember that you are making your child, wife, husband and mother an accomplice of theft. And soon, you are going to get caught. And all your beneficiaries will be exposed for who they are - beneficiaries of the proceeds of crime!
You see, that whole system of corruption is about to fall apart. The house of cards is about to start crumbling, and the hidden cogs will be exposed.
Recently, the Church sounded a warning when its officials hinted at a one-year amnesty appeal for those who had stolen public funds to confess, return the loot and seek forgiveness. But a year might be too long!
The President, who is also the Commander-in-Chief under who all investigative and security agencies in the country fall, seems to have other ideas. Uhuru Kenyatta has released a more urgent order to seek, find, arrest, prosecute and punish the thieves. And it looks like the bloodbath has begun.
During a follow-up meeting to the Eighth Presidential Round Table Forum that brought together stakeholders from Government and the Kenya Private Sector Alliance (Kepsa) a couple of weeks ago, the President said, “We are going to deal ruthlessly with corruption, both real and perceived."
Many thought it was the usual hot air associated with political talk. But clearly it is not.
Just a few days later, the multi-billion shilling National Youth Service (NYS) scandal was brought to the public’s attention. Barely a week on, another mega one was exposed - the National Cereals and Produce Board (NCPB) had been used to pilfer billions in public funds to private pockets.
I have a feeling that more scandalous enterprises will be brought to light soon and their architects exposed.
The unmasking of multi-billion shilling corruption scandals is not new. We have seen and heard so many. What is new in the latest trend is that the exposure of executives seems to be orchestrated by the Executive (pun intended).
And that is where the problem for the corrupt lies. When, for instance, the lid on the 'NYS 2' scam was lifted, a high-ranking official of the parent ministry was quoted complaining that an intelligence agency of the State had “exaggerated” the amount of money stolen.
The absurdity of the admission and seeming justification of theft aside, it was telling where the order for, and blessing of, the investigation was coming from.
Also, by the time the media highlighted the robbery at NCPB, the board’s chief executive and a few managers had already been pushed out of office, indicating that unlike in the past, the media are catching up with what the Executive is doing and not the other way round.
It looks like a strategy: Investigate, expose and punish. This strategy is effective in more than one sense.
First, it establishes facts and insulates the Executive against possible accusation of witch-hunting and crumbling of cases at prosecution level.
Second, it consolidates public support and provides the media with a base for stories, and third, it is effective in disorganising the culprits’ cover-up options.
This is why the cartels, as referred to by Nandi Hills and Moiben MPs, Alfred Keter and Silan Tiren respectively when they reacted to the NCPB scandal exposure, need to start thinking of where to hide. They are about to re-discover that it is the President, not them, running this country.
What is becoming clearer by the day is that the investigative agencies of the State have the support and goodwill from the highest office in the country and are seemingly holding nothing back in pursuit of graft peddlers.
They seem to have acquired a sense of bravery rarely seen before, and this should worry those in the stealing industry.
With the President’s resolve to slay corruption, the enthusiasm of the newly-hired directors of criminal investigations and public prosecutions to show their capability, and with public anger at boiling point, the merchants of graft are well advised to pack up and run.
The day of reckoning is closer now than ever before.
Mr Cherambos is a social commentator based in Nairobi; [email protected]