Kilimanian Gloria Ntazola offered free driving lessons to a Nairobi County Inspectorate officer as two government arms consulted on corruption and human rights violations this week.
It remains to be seen whether both consultations were public relations exercises, or they will address growing public anger.
Exhausted by rising police extortion on our roads, Ms Ntazola flipped her steering wheel and filmed herself lecturing the “Kanjo officer” who had unlawfully forced entry into her car.
Turned from predator to prisoner, the now frightened but still unnamed officer was treated to a civics monologue and a complimentary one way 50km road trip. Her action echoes the words of another young woman Wanjira Wawira.
Wanjira’s powerful “when we lose our fear, they lose their power” chant equally stopped two armed police officers from violating her constitutional right to picket. Viral public reaction to this latest video suggests injustice has created another heroine.
Head of Public Service Felix Kosgei hosted civic organisations specialised in public budgeting, anti-corruption and governance the very next day. Stressing presidential goodwill, he cited poor governance and corruption as vices threatening Kenya’s existence.
He thanked CSOs for holding the state accountable and invited frank conversation on how to de-normalise corruption within government, business and society. The country’s top public servant publicly promised all public officers will be held personally liable, non-executive interference in the work of independent offices and safety for whistle-blowers.
Civic leaders presented several legislative, policy, and administrative quick wins for the Presidency.
The Executive and Parliamentary Majority Leaders can stop two separate Bills seeking to amend the Anti-Corruption and Economic Crimes Act. Sponsored by MPs Peter Kaluma and Geoffrey Ruku, the two Bills seek to shield procurement officers from prosecution for stealing and allow convicted economic criminals to run for public office.
Passing the two Bills would drive new nails into Chapter 6 and Article 10 of the Constitution. Prime Cabinet Secretary Musalia Mudavadi has wisely warned against this and urged fast tracking the Conflict of Interest Bill (2023) to prevent belly interests undermining official responsibilities.
Ceasing the appointment of individuals with tainted histories would restore public faith. Over the last year, no less than 245 corruption cases have been withdrawn against presidential allies. Rather than appoint individuals with records of expanding opportunities for millions, the Presidency has repeatedly appointed individuals cited for abuse of office by legislative, criminal and oversight agencies to ministerial, parastatal and ambassadorial offices.
Public vigilance in the Sh63 billion Kimwarer-Arror dam and other graft case proceedings is also needed. The failure of the prosecution to examine ten state witnesses is already raising eyebrows among the bar and bench.
Increasing Judiciary funding up from 0.6 per cent of the public budget to the international standard of 3 per cent would reduce future delays and dangers of evidence evaporation.
Swift enactment of the Whistle-Blower Protection Act (2021) and increasing funding to the Witness Protection Agency would also signal seriousness. The government will achieve nothing more than PR, if it does not protect whistleblowers and witnesses. Could the 15 whistleblowers, witnesses and investigators left exposed by the state and assassinated over the last decade find justice in our courts or least even symbolically, could they and others be posthumously cited for their courage?
As the Presidency was listening to these suggestions, on the other side of the capital city, the Office of the Attorney General and KNCHR listened to other leaders offering priorities for the review of the 2014 Human Rights Session Paper.
This meeting also stressed operationalising the Public Benefits Organisations Act (2014) as promised in the Kenya Kwanza election manifesto as a way of rebooting State CSO relationships. Gross human rights violations are the other side of a state and society riddled with corruption and impunity.
As we celebrate the nation’s 60th and the 75th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights soon, let’s see if this week’s dialogues turn to new actions and a brighter future for Kenya.
Happy Shujaa Weekend, shujaas.