Time to deliver the knock-out blow on rampant corruption

The great Muhammad Ali was a wonder in the boxing ring. He floated like a butterfly and stung like a bee. 

His boxing matches were a cross between mortal combat and a game of chess, sizing up his opponents before dealing them a crushing hammer blow. 

He always knew where to lay the punches so as to use his energy in the most effective and punishing manner

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Ali, however, was also a wordsmith, and his quotes and sayings have been eternalised around gym walls across the globe. 

When I look at these quotes, I can’t help but think about the current boxing match going on between President Uhuru Kenyatta and corruption.

Ali once quipped; “Don't count the days, make the days count.” Well, Uhuru and the Director of Public Prosecutions are certainly making the days count. In fact, the last few months have seen a no-nonsense attitude and an ever growing desire to bring all sorts of characters into the boxing ring.

The corruption arena is a busy one. It is not just the National Youth Service or the Kenyan Bureau of Standards that were jammed full of corrupt officials. As punches have been thrown by DPP Noordin Haji, more and more crooked Kenyans have been caught by the jabs and upper-cuts.

Super heavyweight

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Indeed, sticking with the analogy, some heavyweights have already been knocked down. We have seen governors and former governors charged in court. CEOs and MDs of parastatals and other big organisations are coming face to face with the wrath of the law.

More recently we have seen a blow delivered to a super heavyweight. Deputy Chief Justice Philomena Mwilu was arrested on suspicion of corruption, tax avoidance, and improper financial dealings with a Kenyan bank.

Muhammad Ali once said, "I'm so mean, I make medicine sick." It appears that the DPP has taken a leaf out of Ali’s book. 

He is being appropriately mean while applying the correct medicine to the sick sectors of society. When the SGR, our most prestigious project, is brought into the fight, you know it is serious.

In addition, there is the issue of the riparian land. For decades, buildings have been illegally constructed too close to river banks and other water sources. This leads to water pollution, blockages, sewage flow and lethal floods. We cannot afford such chaos.

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So the DPP, with the backing of the President, has decided to up the fight. Bulldozers! In a demolition campaign which Mike Tyson would be proud of, we have seen the destruction of a multi-million dollar shopping mall, a petrol station and a coffee shop in Nairobi. These are bold moves in the face of a powerful business community.

The fight

Indeed, the President wanted his legacy to be one of development and building, not destruction. But he also understands that sometimes a leader needs to make tough decisions that may bring pain in the short-term, but guarantee real gain in the long run. 

For who would doubt that Kenya needs cleaning up? Who would argue that we need some lessons in the rule of law? As Mohammad Ali said, “He who is not courageous enough to take risks will accomplish nothing in life.”

As the Government enters the next round of this historic boxing match against corruption, let us all heed the warnings of that bell; the bell that signals that the fight is not over yet.

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We should encourage each other and the President to keep progressing with this fight. We have all seen it for too long and said nothing. We are all guilty. For silence in the face of a crime is to be a party to it. We must now get firmly in the corner of the President, the Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission and the DPP. Their battle is a just one.

While some people will complain that the measures are too harsh, we must send a clear message to them and our leaders. 

Perhaps, again, we can take inspiration from the words of Mohammad Ali. Mr President, “Don't quit. Suffer now and live the rest of your life as a champion.”

Ms Munuhe studies International Relations at the University of Nairobi

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CorruptionWar On CorruptionUhuru Kenyatta