Why CS Linturi should resign or just be fired


Agriculture CS Mithika Linturi before the Select Committee on his Proposed Dismissal of the at the Mini Chambers, Nairobi. May 9, 2024. [Elvis Ogina, Standard]

Agriculture Cabinet Secretary Mithika Linturi should have already resigned a long time ago.

His evasive handling of the fake fertiliser scandal does not inspire confidence.

First, the ministry insinuated that the story was an opposition plant to discredit the government. Then came claims that a private distributor was the culprit.

Then the government finally admitted that farmers were, indeed, supplied with counterfeit fertiliser.  

In normal jurisdictions, Mr Linturi would have resigned even if he had nothing to do with the scam. The scale of the scam alone – hitting a sector in which the majority of our people make their living – was grounds to resign.

Yet Linturi has done much worse. He is on record claiming that the story was unfounded. This suggests that he either had no idea what he was talking about or was intentionally protecting the culprits responsible.

Either way, he should be fired.

Moving forward, it is important to be crystal clear about where responsibility lies. Parliament should impeach and fire Linturi.

Should our legislators fall for claims of “mtu wetu anamalizwa,” President William Ruto should fire him.

If Parliament does not remove him from office, every legislator who votes to acquit must be deemed to be in collusion with the scammers who supplied fake fertiliser.

If the President does not then fire him, he should be deemed to also be in cahoots with the scammers. It is as simple as that. 

Countries take off economically when those in charge adopt a mission-driven seriousness about the business of government. Which is to say that while such countries may remain corrupt, everyone understands that there are sectors that ought to be off limits.

For example, China and Vietnam routinely impose the death penalty on those that cross the line. While we do not want to emulate the barbarism of capital punishment, we should adopt the idea that certain functions of the government should be off limits to corruption.  

If someone wants to make money supplying fertiliser in Kenya, he or she should do the hard work of coming up with a viable business plan that can compete in the current market with a high-quality product at a good price.

And if they are politically connected, they should lobby the government for policy concessions. Kenyans of good faith would gladly tolerate such entrepreneurs.

What we should not tolerate are lazy hucksters and their hare-brained get-rich-quick schemes. 

The writer is a Professor at Georgetown University