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Uhuru Kenyatta needs to do more to tackle grand corruption

By Makau Mutua | March 27th 2016 at 00:00:00 GMT +0300

In a democracy, politicians seek power because they want to govern or rule. They have a vision of the society they seek to vindicate, and a roadmap to get there. A leader doesn’t run all the way to State House against great odds only to do nothing.

 Power isn’t a flower that’s put on display in the foyer. No power is an instrument of authority, coercion, and responsibility. In a democracy, power is given by the people to the ruler who must exercise it accountably, and for the public good. Power isn’t a private possession that belongs to the ruler. Which begs the question why did TNA’s Uhuru Kenyatta seek power? Why hasn’t he used it to fight corruption?

The circumstances under which Mr Kenyatta ascended to State House are vivid. At the time, the man from Gatundu was under indictment for crimes against humanity. The zeal with which he prosecuted the International Criminal Court gave one the impression that it was The Hague not he who was on trial. The first two years of his term were devoted to slaying the ICC. But the demons of the ICC have long been gone. Mr Kenyatta has had plenty of time to pivot to urgent matters facing the republic. Very shockingly, he’s disengaged. Methinks he hasn’t put in even a quarter of the energy and verve to ruling that he devoted to the ICC. He’s virtually abdicated. Why?

There is total agreement by every — and I mean every — Kenyan that corruption is the single most important enemy to the survival of the republic. Even the thieves agree with this dire assessment. At least one-third of the national budget is stolen every year. Mr Kenyatta himself is on record as calling corruption a national disaster. On a recent jaunt to Israel, he told the world that Kenyans are experts at stealing. It’s clear — and I believe him — that Mr Kenyatta is disgusted by the looting of the public purse. If so, and I have no reason to doubt him, why hasn’t he sanctioned thieves without pity? The only thing he seems happy to do is give a beautiful speech.

Some of Mr Kenyatta’s hacks have suggested that he’s powerless against the thieving cartels. They have hinted at the existence of a “deep state” that’s beyond the law. Their view is that Mr Kenyatta can’t touch the thieves without being electrocuted. In other words, they’ve suggested that there are criminal enterprises that control the state, and of which Mr Kenyatta is a slave. I find this hard to believe — and utterly incredulous.

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All Mr Kenyatta has to do is to snap his fingers and the cartels will be locked up in a nanosecond. Unless he doesn’t want to crack the whip. Perhaps he has no stomach for the fight, and simply wants to be re-elected in 2017. Tyranny of numbers.

That Mr Kenyatta is a prince can’t be gainsaid. The man was raised in State House. What boggles the mind is why he wanted to go back there — and fight to live there for ten years — if he had no plans beyond escaping the ICC? I don’t make this conclusion lightly, but Mr Kenyatta is the reluctant prince. How does he want to be remembered? Does he care about his legacy? Even if he himself doesn’t want to fight corruption, why can’t he enable others to do so? Why doesn’t he free himself from political alliances that are kept alive by looting? His closest political allies are mired in thieving scandals. This is an open secret. Isn’t he aware?

The only time Mr Kenyatta looks happy is when he’s being seen off at the JKIA for a foreign trip. He must breathe a sigh of relief every time he clears Kenya’s airspace. I can see him now kicking off his shoes and laying back. He’s glad to be rid of the momentary burdens of office and the insidious cartels that hold him hostage. He takes many of these trips — far too many to far-flung inconsequential places. I think he’s escaping the maggots that loot the state. He looks unhappy and forlorn whenever he jets back into JKIA. This is my advice to Mr Kenyatta — break free from the thieves. I guarantee this — Kenyans will back you fully.

The Good Book in Mark 8:36 says that “for what does it benefit a man to gain the whole world and yet forfeit his soul?” I am told Mr Kenyatta is a man of faith. If so, I urge that he contemplates the true meaning of that verse. Corruption is Kenya’s cancer. It’s killing the country. Even our littlest children are now corrupt. Yet no one in Kenya — but Mr Kenyatta alone — has the power to fight the vice.


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