DPP should now turn his guns on this other evil
One of the most promising aspects of Uhuru Kenyatta’s second term in office is the progress made in the fight against corruption. Over the past 15 months, Kenya has seen a raft of current and former senior figures arrested and tried for graft, something that would have been difficult to imagine just a few years ago.
This has been accompanied by a new, muscular approach to private sector corruption, with over 4,000 buildings, constructed illegally on riparian land, scheduled for demolition.
So visible has this change in tack been, that analysts have argued – with good reason – that more has been done to counter corruption in the past year than in previous decades.
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“A time has come to fight impunity…,” said President Kenyatta “for every Kenyan to realise no matter how powerful you think you or how much money you have… That will not save you.” Those words needed to mean something. And sure, they have.
But the drive and implementation of the fight has come from another individual: Director of Public Prosecutions Noordin Haji.
Ever since he was appointed in March last year, Mr Haji has shown himself to be different to anything we have seen before in Kenya. Quiet, tough and some say a little aloof, Mr Haji keeps his distance, unlike the public officials we are used to.
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This has made him enemies – with MPs overheard describing him as ‘bad news’, in part because he doesn’t smile – but this has just added to his reputation.
In a country where all too many people trade in influence, Mr Haji trades in results. He lets his work do the talking.
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It is instructive then that in the aftermath of the 14 Riverside Drive Complex terror attack where 21 people were killed, Mr Haji – a former director at the National Intelligence Service in charge of counter-terrorism – has returned to the counter-terror fold, with the announcement that he has appointed a specialist team of prosecutors to investigate the attack.
He said his team had been tasked with offering technical guidance to ensure the investigations are meticulous and fast tracked and result in prosecutions as soon as possible.
He went on to assure the public that he will do everything in his power to ensure “the persons behind the organisation, planning, funding and/or execution of the terror attack are brought to book and that justice is delivered to the victims of this heinous crime.”
This announcement should give comfort and reassurance to the Kenyan public that the authorities are doing everything within their power to prosecute those responsible.
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After all, Mr Haji has proven himself to be a man of his word, and one that delivers results.
Significance and symbolism
But the significance and symbolism of Mr Haji’s involvement in this matter goes beyond his role as a prosecutor.
He is ethnic Somali and an observant Muslim. Mr Haji’s multiple overlapping identities cut to the heart of the issues Kenya is facing with home-grown terror.
After all, the attackers were young people who grew up here and were educated here – one terrorist, Ali Salim Gichunge’s, father was even a sergeant in the KDF – yet their ultimate loyalty was to something else.
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In Mr Haji’s case, there are no split loyalties. He is a proud Muslim and I suppose, a proud Kenyan and so must be fiercely loyal to both.
In this, he is a role model to the millions of young people in this country who feel a tension between competing identities – whether religious or ethnic – and question whether pride and devotion to their religion or ethnicity encumbers their ability to serve their country.
Mr Haji has shown that no such distinction need exist, and the fact he has become a key figure in the anti-terror fight should further emphasise this point.
Soon after being sworn in for a second term, Mr Kenyatta decided that fighting corruption would be a key goal of his new administration. He is banking on Mr Haji to lead the fight.
Now, with terror again rearing its ugly head, President Kenyatta has once again called upon him to deliver.
I am confident that Mr Haji will bring the same energy and drive to this equally important battle.
Mr Temba is a Communications Consultant.
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Uhuru KenyattaHajiDirector of Public ProsecutionsCorruptionEACCTerror suspects