Corruption in Kenya: Joe Khamisi has given us the history; Father Dolan reports brilliantly from the latest passing winds of  faux “war”

Corruption in Kenya: Joe Khamisi has given us the history; Father Dolan reports brilliantly from the latest passing winds of faux “war”

I do not have the stomach to blog about official high level anti-corruption conferences in Kenya any more–the whole pageant is just too twisted for a relatively simple person such as myself.

If you have not yet read Joe Khamisi’s Kenya: Looters and Grabbers; 54 Years of Corruption and Plunder by the Elite, 1963-2017 (Jodey Pres 2018) you must. It sets the stage in the colonial era and proceeds from independence like a jackhammer through scandal, after scandal after scandal upon scandal.

Read a great review by Tom Odhiambo of the University of Nairobi in the Daily Nation here:

. . . The Kroll Report, for instance is available online for those curious about the rip-offs of the 1980s into the early 2000s. The Goldenberg scam report is in the public domain. Anglo-leasing scam is still fresh in the minds of many. 

There are numerous other reports on misappropriation of public resources in parastatals, annexation of public land, seizure and transfer into private ownership of public motor vehicles, for instance.

However, for the first time a Kenyan chronicles the looting of national resources in a book, in a language, style and tone that is easily accessible to the public. This is not some report by an NGO or government watchdog, full of figures, graphs and illustrations to show the enormity of the theft. 

No, this is a collection of narratives of daring, outrageous and unbelievable self-service by the Kenyan elite at the buffet of state and non-state resources.

These are tales that highlight how the Kenyan elite – political, economic, bureaucratic or even clerical – evacuated the moral high ground long time ago and thus don’t really care about the moralising about corruption; how they have behaved as a ‘members’ only club, irrespective of tribe or religion or political leaning; how they have gradually morphed into a powerful class that will use any means at their disposal to maintain their privilege; and how they have consequently impoverished the country.

Looters and Grabbers should scare any Kenyan who reads it. For it begins at the beginning: with the land grabbing frenzy of the years after the end of colonialism. . . .

Fortunately, on latest elite public posturing and strutting we have Fr. Gabriel Dolan. His latest Sunday Standard column lays it out: “Media houses failing the graft war more than judiciary”:

The annual war on corruption has been launched with fireworks but may prove once more to be nothing more than a damp squib. For all the threats and promises, what we are witnessing appears more like passing wind in a crowded room with everyone blaming someone else for the foul smell. Those with powers and microphones are demanding accountability and justice. Every arm of government wants justice to flow down like a river, but each of them wants to decide who is going to get wet. So the battle will most likely conclude with a cease fire as the windows are opened, the stench is released and normal services resume.  

It is good to stand back and take the long view of proceedings. Most of the mega corruption scandals for the last 55 years are the handiwork of the political class and their cronies. Yet, these same individuals, families and gangs are now shouting loudest about ending corruption and bringing culprits to book. Isn’t that strange, almost funny if there were not so much at stake! But this should make you suspicious about what is really going on. 

Failure to replace petty thieves with mega looters in our institutions of correction is entirely the fault of the Judiciary according to vox populi and the ranting classes. . . . Instead of baying for the blood of the mega thieves, the anger is projected onto the Judiciary and they are the new scapegoats to blame for the looting of the nation. Therein is another reason to be extremely sceptical about pronouncements on corruption.  

What makes this all the more shameful and ridiculous is that the media have become enthusiastic collaborators in lynching the Judiciary. . . .

Yet painful as it is to admit, media houses have let the public down more than any other institution in their failure to pursue and investigate mega corruption. Investigative journalism is fast disappearing and most publications are more likely to give attention to love triangles than to the maize scandal. Entertainment is valued more than education. . . . .

Reporting truth to the masses empowers them and does more than anything else to democratise societies. However, in recent years we have witnessed editors, cartoonists and popular columnists axed from our dailies because they dared to challenge, expose and ridicule the government of the day. . . . .

If owners and editors permitted their best journalists to do proper, consistent, thorough and impartial investigations of the scandals we would rise early to buy our copies and the three arms of government would be worried. 

Ken

Took leave from corporate career as American lawyer to “assist” democracy in East Africa. After stolen '07 election in Kenya and violent aftermath I have tried to bring out truth of events for those who care in hope we can learn and do better.

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