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Democracy by applause shows beautiful side to our politics, resolve to fight graft

By Peter Kimani | August 7th 2015

I think “Hustler jet” is a beautiful coinage, and that’s not because it’s associated with a pretty-faced woman.

It’s an intimation of political hypocrisy where grinding poverty and opulence are reputed to live side-by-side.

But even such contradictions occasionally find traction, as they did in 2013 when our Deputy Prezzo, Man Ruto, declared himself the quintessential “hustler” to appeal to a large swathe of the youthful population.

But that was before he took to the skies, presumably to see the world, soon after his election victory that moved him to tears. None of us thought any further about the trip, although there was a gripe why anyone would have hired a private jet when Kenya Airways were running aground for lack of business.

That’s what led us to the spectre now immortalised as the ‘Hustler jet’ scandal, which I think a beautiful coinage that threw even more beautiful surprises: the person behind the illegal jet hiring was a pretty-faced woman: Marianne Kitany.

Beautiful women

Alas! Beyond the ugly political contestations was a woman whose beautiful presence would have calmed the most turbulent of waters, and I would have thought no further about this ‘Hustler jet’ business had Marianne’s pretty face not returned to the newspaper pages soon after, this time, implicated in some alleged misuse of some Sh100 million.

Once again, I was tempted to give Marianne the benefit of the doubt, considering the amount in question, which was reportedly spent in mobilising parliamentary support against, surprise, surprise!... another pretty-faced woman by the name of Anne Waiguru, the Devolution minister.

Now, now, this is interesting.

Why would two beautiful women, and whose first names are variations of the same name, be so upset about each other, enough to spend a small fortune plotting the removal of the other?

Drawing on the wisdom of Tinga, the true Baba (father) of the nation, what we needed was to urgently establish was not Marianne’s motivations but the master at whose behest she may have been was acting.

Decent allowances

But since scribes don’t ask questions these days – why bother, one might say, when their effort will end up wrapping meat by nightfall – nobody asked such searching questions.

And so we all turned to Parliament, not for confessions from those who had eaten Sh100 million like njugu karanga (peanuts) but for the full story surrounding Man Ruto’s fanciful flights on that famous ‘Hustler jet’.

For those who have forgotten, Man Ruto’s so-called shuttle diplomacy took him to Congo Brazaville, Ghana, Nigeria and Gabon.

But how exactly those countries were supposed to intervene, nobody knows since the International Criminal Court sits at The Hague.

No matter, a parliamentary committee took 15 months to complete the report, no doubt earning the 27 members decent sitting allowances – can you imagine getting paid just for sitting in an office at your work place – when you still earn a pay at the end of the month - and the report was finally presented to Parliament on Tuesday.

The matter took a few minutes to dispense. I hear some of those who had worked on the ‘Hustler jet’ investigation, and had appended their signatures to endorse the findings, ultimately voted against it. Some did not even bother to appear in Parliament.

Confronted by those odds, what the acting House Speaker – another pretty-faced woman – did, was to ask Members of Parliament to shout if they were in support of, or against, the adoption of the report.

And the grown men, some in ill-fitting suits from eating money like njugu karanga, wailed to the full volumes of their lungs: “Noooooooooooooooo!”

And that’s how it was settled: in a shouting contest.

Which affirms our remarkable progress. Only eight short years ago, we took machetes and cut each other, torched neighbours’ houses and stole their cows for milking. Now, the greatest outrage that our leaders can express against corruption is to shout down each other, denying us the right to hear the whole story.

After all, it’s yet another day with allowances to be earned, and the promise of more njugu karanga for shouting the loudest.

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