With diplomacy, war on graft will bear more fruit

Zhou Enlain, one of the most formidable leaders of the Chinese revolution, served as the first Premier of the People’s Republic of China. Yet, he was also the country’s first Foreign minister who advocated for peaceful coexistence with the capitalist West.

Drawing upon the famous 18th-century German strategist and general Carl von Clausewitz, Enlain declared in 1954 that “all diplomacy is a continuation of war by other means”.

This is a rather pessimistic outlook on international relations, as appropriate for disciples of the realist school of thought. Yet if we closely follow current events and developments, we can see the truth in the saying.

Take the fight against terrorism. Chasing after Al Shabab criminals in and outside our country and bringing them to justice has borne fruit. We can appreciate a steady increase in general security and decrease in terrorist activities in Kenya. And the world is noticing.

But terrorism isn’t the only threat to Kenya’s future, even though it might be Kenya’s deadliest threat. Other threats, also incredibly damaging to the future of our nation, also need to be tackled head-on.

Many argue that corruption is an existential danger to the Kenyan state, suffocating development and innovation at its core, reinforcing inequality and hurting justice everywhere. A true war against corruption is needed to rid us of this all too familiar foe. This warmust be fought with the full force of the judicial system, and include the relentless pursuit of these criminals by all relevant agencies. We can see the first fruits of these efforts already, yet more remains to be done.

Yet, there is another level of fighting corruption, a global context, which is extremely helpful.

Global partners

First, we must recognise that we are living in a globalised world. In this modern world, the flow of capital is no longer bound to the territory of any single state. Thus, whoever aims to find the culprits of corruption, needs to look across borders. International cooperation is needed. Or, in other words, diplomacyagainst corruption. A true continuation of the waragainst corruption by other means.

This cooperation can only be achieved with the right partners. Little wonder that President Uhuru Kenyatta is actively building alliances in the fight against corruption with some of the strongest players in the global financial market.

Think of last year’s deal the President signed with Switzerland, which facilitates the repatriation of funds stolen from the Kenyan people and stashed away in the European nation. At least Sh200 million are being returned from the Anglo-Leasing scam alone.

And just recently, Kenya Airways launched direct flights between Geneva and Nairobi, further proving the proximity of the two countries. A proximity which will surely yield further fruits in the fight against graft.

Indeed, the President's visit to the US, the world powerhouse, should be seen in this light. Whichever individual and organisation blacklisted by the US for financial crimes is basically cut off the international monetary system – just ask any country suffering from US sanctions.

This is why the recent meeting in Washington, DC, between the Director of Public Prosecutions Noordin Haji and the head of the Directorate of Criminal Investigations George Kinoti, and the Deputy Director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) David Bowdich is critical. The respected agency commended the efforts to punish the corrupt and pledged to support the fight.

The meeting came against the backdrop of increased cases of arrests and prosecution of suspects linked to corruption, most of whom were previously perceived as untouchable.

It is also notable that the new US ambassador to Kenya Kyle McCarter has met with the DCI and promised to back the battle to net the big fish.

And for those who feel that earthly diplomacy is not enough, the government is also supported by the representative of Pope Francis in Kenya, Archbishop Hubertus Matheus Maria van Megan in its crackdown against corruption.

Surely, an all-out war against graft, roping in global support, is what it takes to reclaim the nation and build a solid future.

 The writer is a banker