Twice now, President Uhuru Kenyatta has invoked the name of God while vowing to end rampant corruption in Kenya. The president’s firm resolve reinforces growing hope among Kenyans that far from the perfunctory attempts to fight corruption in yester years, something tangible will come out of the current drive.
And indeed, at the pace at which the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) is progressing, there is no doubt on the serious intent to make corruption a dangerous pastime for those tempted to indulge, and those already mired in it.
At a church function last Sunday, the president admitted he had lost a number of friends who sought his intervention to stop the ongoing demolition of buildings erected on riparian land.
This is in addition to ongoing probes on corruption within society. To his credit, the president confirmed he had turned down their selfish entreaties for the good of the country.
Given the choice between working for Kenyans and leaving a lasting legacy and friends whose sole purpose is to feather their own nests, it was an easy choice for Uhuru.
At this point in the fight against corruption, there is no going back, even if it means claiming a few prominent scalps along the way. Sacred cows, ideally the ‘big fish’ who have operated with such impunity all these years, driving this country to its knees; killing the economy and adding to the ranks of joblessness across the country ought to feel the pinch as the tide turns against them.
Too many Kenyans have lived a life of penury and misery because of the greed of a few who deny them opportunities in life. Today, the once vibrant sugar industry in the country is in its death throes because of a few individuals’ greed.
While they smile all the way to the bank, the poor farmer in the sugar belt is faced with the difficulty of sustaining his family and educating his children.
Making corruption expensive is the only deterrent available; one that will work. Yet to do so, the president and the institutions charged with the task of slaying the dragon of corruption must be prepared to go beyond merely scratching the surface. In particular, even as the current DPP makes Kenyans wonder what previous occupants of that office did to warrant their retention, should not let this golden opportunity pass him by.
He must ensure that thorough investigations are conducted to deny those indicted the chance to escape retribution. Too many cases of corruption were dismissed in the past because of shoddy investigative work. Adduced evidence should make it easy for the courts to deal with the cases expeditiously.
The president has shown willingness and determination to go the whole hog, but he needs the support of all, particularly that of the legislature and the Judiciary. While the Judiciary has demonstrated it is equal to the task, parliament is a disgrace and likely to throw the spanner in the works.
It is despicable that Members of Parliament, some of the highest earners in the whole of the commonwealth should bend so low and accept bribes of as little as Sh10000 - an act of corruption - to circumvent the truth on the illegally imported sugar and one in which it is claimed there are high quantities of lead, copper and mercury. Any individual willing to sacrifice the lives of Kenyans for a few coins has no moral authority to regard him or herself as a leader.
Perhaps time has come for the recall clause in the constitution to be put to good use, if only to make Members of Parliament appreciate the fact that they are answerable to Kenyans.
The optimism among Kenyans that finally something worthwhile is being done to end corruption should not be allowed to die. In the past, a number of commissions were set up and came up with recommendations that were not implemented.
Were President Uhuru Kenyatta to act on, among others, the TJRC and Ndung’u reports, a lot of what the public lost fraudulently could be recovered. The bottom line is that corruption must end, and soon.