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Corruption in Kenya… and the president is always watching



The story of corruption in the post independent Kenya is a long one.

Ever since attaining her independence in 1963, Kenya has suffered from widespread corruption not only in the public but in the private sector too. The ominous part of it is that the scandals have in a way or the other touched on the Presidency. This has overtime degenerated into a monster-like culture of impunity where the elite have notably whizzed their way out of obvious corruption allegations scot-free! I look back and here’s what historians have;

Mzee Jomo Kenyatta, the corruption founder and grand land thief

Kenya has many problems but land is capital and has always been the Elephant in the room.

All this land problems in Kenya emanate from one man – Mzee Jomo Kenyatta, Kenya’s 1st President after independence.

See when the white Settlers came came in Kenya, indigenous Africans were displaced and their land converted to large commercial farms. The MAUMAU led pro independence war erupted forcing the Britons to hand over power to Kenyans. Jomo Kenyatta took advantage of the confusion and awarded himself the relinquished land.

Secret papers of the late Sir Michael Blundell, the white settler leader who acted as the liaison between Kenyatta and the British government indicate that Mr. Jomo Kenyatta backstabbed his fellow war comrades and signed secret pact with the British government not to interfere with the skewed land distribution at independence. The narrative is corroborated in the secret notes of Kenya’s second vice-president, the late Joseph Murumbi, deposited at the Kenya National Archives.

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The land question haunts the country to this day, an entire generation after Jomo Kenyatta’s death. That was Kenya’s foundation – Land grabbing and corruption.

Moi the Golden-berg Kingpin

In 1978 Daniel Moi took over as Kenya’s second president. During Moi’s reign, corruption was honing. Notable enough was the 1990s Goldenberg scandal and subsequent cover-ups. The Goldenberg scandal is thought to have cost Kenya the equivalent of more than 10% of the country’s annual GDP. Half-hearted inquiries that began following pressure by foreign aid donors but they never amounted to anything substantial during Moi’s presidency.

Kibaki, the man who is thought to have rigged his way to the presidency

Kenya’s third President, Mwai Kibaki, was elected on an anti-corruption platform in 2002. During his two term regime, his regime suffered several corruption scandals, some at the heart of the presidency and earlier than imagined.

We all recall in 2007, when Kibaki was declared a victor in the presidential elections amidst unending allegations of electoral manipulation and bribery involving the election officials. What followed was a historic violent turmoil causing the deaths of more than 1000 people.

I will not go into other scandals that followed suit.

Uhuru Kenyatta – The president who even knows that Kenyans are corrupt

In 2013, another regime change was beckoning and another round of presidential elections were held. This time under a new constitutional dispensation. Relative peace was experienced but again, there were further allegations of vote- rigging. Notable enough are the allegations that the Supreme Court Judges accepted bribes to rule against Uhuru Kenyattas close rival, Raila Odinga in 2013 Presidential Petition.

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More than a dozen corruption scandals have dogged Uhuru’s regime. All at the heart of the presidency.

“experienced in stealing and perpetuating other crimes”

Kenya’s President Uhuru Kenyatta seems to be fully aware of this shameful and damaging statistics. His recent public rebukes say it all; During an address in Israel while on a state visit, Mr. Kenyatta himself said that Kenyans are “experienced in stealing and perpetuating other crimes” in an address during a state visit to Israel. From the speech in Israel, many argued that the president’s speech was rhetoric, and the comments were seen as an attempt to encourage Kenyans to develop their country like Israel.

In a renewed attack, this time during a burial ceremony of former MP and Assistant Minister George Ndung’u Micigi in Muranga County, Mr. Kenyatta accused Kenyan leaders of going against the wishes of their people.

This are just two instances I have selected indicating that he knows the corruption levels in a country he is leading. The worrying bit is that Mr. Kenyatta is just talking about it hence concerns that even the president is not serious about tackling corruption.

So what can be done?

The president needs to realise that he has been doing a lot of mouth service. His first term is almost over and there is still no effort that convince anyone that he is ready to swipe against corruption!

The president needs to stop talking and instead let the actions speak for themselves. Everybody is tired of the empty talk. Somebody needs to take out the vultures devouring Kenya before it too late.

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