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We 'inherited empty coffers' excuse is no longer acceptable

 President William Ruto and his deputy Rigathi Gachagua take a stroll after a Cabinet meeting in Nanyuki, Laikipia County, in January 2023. [PCS]

In his 2013 book titled, 'Unapologetically You: Reflections on Life and the Human Experience,' Dr Steve Maraboli, a behavioural science academic, says something that we should direct to the Kenya Kwanza government - “It’s time to care; it’s time to take responsibility; it’s time to lead; it’s time for a change; it’s time to be true to our greatest self; it’s time to stop blaming others.”

Before I speak my mind, allow me to give a background which is undoubtedly in the public domain. This week, a clip from July 2, 2005, was doing rounds on social media in which Uhuru Kenyatta, the then official opposition leader and Kanu chairman, was recorded castigating the Kibaki Cabinet ministers who blamed their inability to deliver on “inherited empty coffers from the former government”.

This was three solid years after Kibaki took over from President Daniel arap Moi. After watching the clip, it dawned on me, like many other Kenyans, that there is nothing new in politics and that all political decoys and abracadabra have ever been attempted.

Twenty years later, we elected a Kenya Kwanza government with more advanced technology and communication channels, blaming it all on the “inherited empty coffers from the former government.”

If the past government left empty coffers, it means that there was massive misappropriation of public funds. Fact! If that is the case, what is the government doing about it? Does it mean that there are no provisions in law to bring to book former government officials who purportedly looted our national coffers?

Are they untouchable? If they are, why did we elect a government that cannot assure us of the safety and justice of our resources?

Such a pessimistic approach was heard during Uhuru's reign when he told Kenyans, who had elected him as president, that under his watch, Kenyans were losing Sh2 billion to corruption daily. His loyalists celebrated him as an astute head of state for calling out corruption as it was. No one dared to ask him to account for this self-defeatist statement, a self-confession of incompetence in his administration.

President Ruto was sworn in and given a sword to guard our republic, resources, and citizens. So, when we hear them crying foul, for over a year now, of how it is hard to deliver citizens from the quagmire of economic hardships because they supposedly “inherited empty coffers from the former government”, we wonder.

Unless the Kenya Kwanza government acts to salvage this country and seek justice for the purported stolen money from the coffers they found empty, we will judge them harshly.

First, we will hold them accountable as accomplices to the alleged economic crimes for protecting whoever looted the country. If Kenya Kwanza honchos want to absolve themselves from this blame, they must bring to book those who allegedly emptied the coffers, if at all they were empty when President Ruto was sworn in as head of state.

The second assumption is that the Kenya Kwanza blame-game is a fabricated narrative to hide their failure to govern the nation as they claimed. If they are competent enough, they should have crafted some way out of the current economic quicksand while cushioning them from poverty.

Thirdly, over taxing poor Kenyans to cushion past economic crimes is evidence of a government that oppresses the poor to enrich the already wealthy. The Biblical Proverbs chapter 22, verse 16 warns, "Whoever oppresses the poor to give to the rich, will only come to poverty.”

To this, I say that a government that oppresses the poor to protect the crimes committed by the rich will only bring the country to poverty.

What, then, is the conclusion of this matter? Stop the blame game and deliver. Kenyans elected the Kenya Kwanza government, knowing the state of the nation. Over a year in government makes Kenya Kwanza the 'former government' they blame for the "empty coffers.”

-Dr Ndonye is a senior lecturer, Department of Mass Communication, Kabarak University


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