Eating with spades, folks at Red Cross fork their way through Sh100m food on lockdown

Red Cross vehicle at Ol Moran area in Laikipia County on September 10, 2021. [Kipsang Joseph, Standard]

An international audit has revealed that the Kenya Red Cross Society spent nearly Sh100 million of donor funds on meetings at its own hotel. Let’s pause for a moment and digest that.

The Red Cross, of course, spends most of its waking hours soliciting donations from people of goodwill, because their work entails helping emerging crises around our republic and beyond.

But between 2018 and June 2021 - meaning most of the period audited coincided with national lockdowns and prohibition of public gatherings - those folks were tucking in day and night, perhaps because they had nothing else do.

The expression that Kenyans use when public funds are embezzled is “kula pesa,” literally translated as eating money. So, they ate money. But Sh100 million is not a small amount, so the orgy must have involved use of spades to eat, in place of regular spoons.

If it is any consolation for the donors and Kenyans of goodwill, who have come to the rescue of the Red Cross, some serious cooking was involved, if only to cook the books of accounts. Secondly, those aggrieved would justifiably withhold their future support.

Even more affirming, one can say in the hierarchy of grand thefts, the Red Cross folks are still amateurs. We have bought forestlands (that belonged to the government already) and recently invested in a valley where dam should have been erected for the princely sum of Sh21 billion.

There is no doubt money was stolen, but no one is in jail, and, as we say these days, the earth cooled down. That’s to say things have returned to normal and thieves can plot their next heist.

So, let’s be grateful for small mercies; at least we know there is a hotel and some serious cooking and eating did take place. Those interested in forensics should verify if the establishment was even licensed to operate during the lockdowns.