The question has to be asked: Is Uhuru genuine in his fight against corruption? Is his purge political or is it an honest desire to see Kenya change? Many a pundit have postulated that his fight is political shadow boxing. If so then Uhuru is spending a lot of energy punching the air. It does not stand to reason that a sitting president with access to intelligence reports would make huge movements against corruption and stand to gain nothing.
We must therefore carefully study the man and see if he is serious. First thing to consider is his age. Uhuru is 56 today, when he retires he will be 60 years old. This means he will be the youngest president ever to retire in Kenya.
This makes his legacy very important to him. Simply because if he fails, the next thirty years will remind him continually of his failure. President Bush of the USA can’t quite shake off the Iraq war, President Clinton can’t shake off Monica Lewinsky and if Uhuru fails he won’t shake off the failure of his presidency. And based on his age that means 30 plus years of shame and bad looks from a disappointed citizenry.
If that is not enough, if Uhuru fails in his fight against corruption, he will have left Kenya worse than ever. It will be failure on two fronts. The first will be economic. If he fails in his fight, then the national debt will be too large for Kenya to deal with. If we lose a third to corruption today, and spend another third paying back loans for the next 50 years, we will collapse soon after 2025 and he will be alive to be blamed. We will be like Argentina facing bankruptcy for our own greed.
The cost of corruption
To further compound it all, if corruption persists, we will never raise enough money to meet our obligation to collect tax. As it goes, corruption is tax free, large sums of money lie unused as the corrupt try to launder it. This means that the tax on that money is lost as is its ability to be invested into viable aspects of our economy. This loss will soon shut us down
In case of a default on our payments make no mistake, the currency will fall sharply. The millions both the corrupt and genuine businesses hold will devalue overnight. Imagine a sudden inflation rate of just 50 per cent, this would mean that Uhuru’s wealth, my coins and your wealth would suddenly be half their value overnight. Next, you won’t be able to change your money into dollars or euros fast enough, you will lose it all.
Against this backdrop, Uhuru has also witnessed two elections that have almost led to open war in 2007 and in 2017. Ten years apart, but linked by one terrible fact that is unbeknown to many; the sparks of a revolution. Whereas for many the two incidents were about elections, to those in the know it was a bona fide class war. You see, there are places in this country where youth unemployment is at 80 per cent.
The jobless youth
The math is staggering Kenya has millions of unemployed and disgruntled youth; millions of whom are turning into adults every year. These youth have nothing to do and nothing to lose. Surrounded by Uganda, Somalia and South Sudan which are all facing military conflict it just takes one politician to be greedy enough to start a war and sure enough we will be at war. Therefore my friends, Uhuru’s handshake with Raila was not a joke-it shouldn’t be-for the alternative is unthinkable.
This brings me to my next point: counterfeit goods and smuggling. Uhuru must deal with this vice because it simply threatens to choke industry in this nation. For example,if Kabras Sugar Compound goes under, sugar manufacturing dies with it as do the hopes of 200,000 farmers and many thousands of workers who depend on the industry. The importers of sugar employ themselves and a few casual labourers to repackage the sugar. Allowing this kind of thing to continue means more unemployment, more instability and the threat of revolution becomes real.
Marie Antoinette moment
There is an apocryphal saying attributed to Marie Antoinette, in which she said “let them eat cake”. This was in reaction to the masses' demand for the government to provide bread, and on this statement the French revolution begun. Of course the story isn’t true but its lesson is real. Were Uhuru to remove himself from the “bread” needs of the people then a revolt is in the offing. The city folk may not see it, but in the slums and villages all over Kenya there is chagrin.
This chagrin can only be sorted out if all of us, poor and rich, can access food, decent housing, quality healthcare and a decent job. Uhuru’s Big Four is Kenya’s lifeline. Our economy, our life and limb all hang on what this president will do. The handshake and Big Four must stand or else in 2022 we will crumble under the weight of corruption, foreign debt and the fires of revolution based on another questioned election. Kenya, you have been warned.
Mr Bichachi is a Communication Consultant. [email protected]