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Unholy trinity of tribe, politics and greed the bane of Kenya

OPINION
By Henry Munene | November 26th 2016

The season of political madness is here, again. In case you have just landed from Mars, or from those rarefied climes where Nigeria is thought to be a continent and that we Africans live atop trees – let me bring you up to speed.
Every five years, Africans of Kenyan extraction go to the polls for a crucial ritual. This political ritual, which is also our version of democracy, involves voting for those who are closest to our bloodline - think family, clan, tribe, doomsday sect - to become our leaders. Call it political inbreeding, if you will.

The war drums are rolling, and the attendant carnival mood is already in the air. You’ve heard the definitive wild, hateful claims of what “our enemies” are up to. Then the ping pong on who is the worst of them all. Aden Duale is already banging the rooftops, saying Uhuru Kenyatta will wrest Coast from Raila Odinga. And we haven’t even seen any manifesto!

Not to be outdone, a senior CORD official, in an opinion piece this week, broke down for you how communities will vote, to give the Opposition an edge over the ruling Tyranny of Numbers. Yes, it is our communities that vote, and they decide even before their favourite coalition has decided on its presidential flag bearer! Hail to our heritage of splendour! In the Jubilee-CORD 2016 book of politics, what you plan to do once and if you rise to power is an abstract academic pursuit best left to our broke universities.

Enter graft. This week, the media were awash with analyses of the Auditor General’s report on spending in the counties. And it is amply clear that, while devolution was supposed to alleviate suffering in the villages, counties have become another centre at the grassroots that is as avaricious as the traditional central government that diverted all the cash in Nairobi.
And instead of a sober and objective debate on the audit report, the governors have come out with guns blazing. They are not saying no cash was misspent, but that event the national government is “eating”. Two wrongs cancel out in the land of unity, peace and liberty.

There is also the rather ludicrous excuse that money is being lost because of the Integrated Financial Management System. Now, I know there are serious questions about the much-touted system.

But surely it is people who are stealing the cash and not the system. So, as much as it’s not foolproof, we must also admit the county staff might be a wee bit too analogue to prevent theft on the system and that we have serious integrity issues in these devolved units. Most nauseating is the coalition politics surrounding theft in the counties. Jubilee factotums seem to believe they can justify theft in the national government by pointing an accusing finger at the Opposition, which does not manage my taxes. 

CORD, on its part, has been notorious for defending county chiefs accused of pilfering devolved cash. The Opposition leaders do it in such a knee-jerk manner they don’t even wait for investigations to be completed before someone shouts at  a rally that the State is harassing opposition leaders. This impunity reached its apogee when Opposition county chiefs were quoted as saying they would use public cash to mobilise voters in Opposition zones on condition that they be granted direct nomination in the next polls.

The tragedy is that we are all ruining our country. The peasants have to watch their children die over a snakebite because there are no drugs in our hospitals, yet when a governor or some senior political leader or their children suffer a scratch or mild flu, they are flown out of the country for specialised treatment. The day Kenyans will realise there is no CORD or Jubilee theft and that we all suffer when resources are stolen, we will be on the path to bequeathing a better country than we inherited. Before that, the unholy trinity of tribe, politics and greed remains the ruin of us all.

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