Two related events happened this week that may have some big influence on who wins the elections. One was a CTV interview where the Ruto idea man Dr. David Ndii met with the ODM CEO Oduor Ong’wen to talk about the manifestos for UDA and Azimio.
The one big thing in that discussion was the issue of fighting corruption in Kenya post August 9, 2022. Ndii was asked even by listening audience members why the Kenya Kwanza manifesto is dead silent on fighting corruption when it is such a big problem for the country that needs public money for development.
David Ndii stated that the executive government that UDA will form will not be involved in fighting corruption because that is a job that should be done by independent agencies. In fact Ndii told the audience Ruto and UDA believe that the war on corruption has been weaponized against them and they don’t want any government involvement in fighting corruption and they will just leave that to independent bodies like the Auditor General Office and others.
That is fantasy at best but largely it is a plan to protect political thieves and allow them to rob as much money and resources as they want from Kenyans.
The president of Kenya is not going to arrest corrupt thieves. That president is not going to prosecute them in court. Kenya has a lot of independent institutions to do that.
So why have those institutions failed Kenya so badly for 60 years and counting? Because the same executive branch of government that cannot arrest political thieves can very effectively protect them once they end up with legal problems after being caught stealing from Kenyans. That is exactly why a lot of those well known thieves are doing everything to form the next government.
Let’s start with the obvious. Every year there are several reports from the Auditor General about billions of Kenyan tax payer money having been misused or stolen by politicians. Once the Auditor-General tables that report they have done their job.
Look at this latest report just issued by the Auditor General:
Counties paid Sh12bn wages using manual systems, report shows
The Controller of Budget (COB) has raised concerns over counties payment of wages and salaries through manual systems, risking the loss of billions of public funds.
COB Margaret Nyakang’o, in her report of counties budget implementation in the nine months to March 2022, observed that counties processed wage bills amounting to Sh11.99 billion through the manual systems and vouchers, which are prone to abuse.
Ms Nyakang’o flagged nine counties which paid huge amounts through the unsecured systems, advising devolved units to fast track the adoption of secure payroll systems.
“This is contrary to government policy, which requires salaries to be processed through the IPPD system. The manual payroll is prone to abuse and may lead to the loss of public funds with a lack of proper controls.
“The counties that had the highest payments through the manual system were; Bomet at Sh1.06 billion, Kiambu at Sh864.22 million, Garissa at Sh746.10 million, Nakuru at Sh593.48 million, Marsabit at Sh569.40 million, Homa Bay at Sh495.19 million, Vihiga at Sh469.81 million, Siaya at Sh449.92 million, Mandera at Sh440 million, Laikipia at Sh419.32 million, and Kisumu at Sh401.27 million,” Ms Nyakang’o stated.
Now who acts to solve a problem like this? Nobody because people in government don’t care about public money being stolen. This is what has to be addressed and fixed by the next government.
The one key system to fight corruption that the next government has to put in place is that any reports for the AG or other public bodies that come public must be immediately and thoroughly investigated and resolved. Same thing with county funds and CDF. They have to be audited every year and any corruption issues arising from such independent audits dealt with. That requirement should be passed into law by the next government.
That is how you fight corruption not by some imaginary fighting against “state capture” hog wash. Once you are in the executive you are the state. Are you going to fight yourself? No. Kenyans know that so they will not buy tricks to kill the war on corruption with empty talk about state capture.
What Kenya needs urgently is to ask the institutions involved in fighting corruption to present their budgetary needs for investigators and legal experts so all cases are fully and competently investigated. It is the executive government that has to provide resources for those agencies to have enough funds and staff to do their job. Some extra funding for our oversight institutions will save the country hundreds of billions a year. It is a smart thing for the next government to take to parliament and get passed into our laws.
The Auditor has no powers to arrest the thieves so they can answer for their crimes. It is only the executive authority headed by the president and their legal experts and investigators who can take those thieves to court. So Ruto and his crew talk about state capture of investigative institutions in Kenya without any proof but what they want is the biggest state capture of all.
At the end of the day the Ruto wants to set up a regime that will disrupt and even criminalize investigative institutions in Kenya so they are ineffective and pretty much useless claiming that President Uhuru used those institutions to fight against him and his UDA squad.
Just the other day, Ruto’s running mate told Kenyans that as soon as they win power the Shs. 12.5 billion corruption cases against him will be dead and his accounts which are currently frozen will be freed for him to use. That is the state capture Ruto and his friends want.
They are going to tell the investigators and courts that they can investigate whatever they want but once the matter touches any of Ruto’s big boys like his DP Gachagua or known thieves in the UDA government it is dead on arrival. That is the ultimate state capture these guys are plotting to achieve.
According to Dr. Ndii, the State Capture they will be investigating in where state institutions have been repurposed to make policies that benefit people at the top while inflicting on those at the bottom.
“Structural cause of corruption is state capture. What we are going to do about it is to start a state capture inquiry. In Narc when we came in 2002, we tried to do it with Goldenberg issue, which was the biggest corruption issue at the time.”
“We are talking about people trying to capture our Judiciary, people weaponising corruption, people capturing power sector among others. The term of reference is can you tell us how our institutions are captured and what we need to do to insulate them from capture. It is not about an individual. We want an institutional analysis,” he explained during an interview on Citizen TV.
He added: “When you say that the President is going to fight corruption, what you are saying is that he has the power to decide who gets caught and who doesn’t get caught.”
Dismissing KKA’s proposal to tackle graft as playing to the gallery, Mr. Ong’wen says that without a commitment from the political leadership, the war on corruption cannot be won.
He argues that there is a need of changing the mindset since those being born found themselves in an ecosystem where graft is being glorified.
“Fighting corruption needs a mindset change. This means that everybody must be part of our society that is inclusive citizenship. We must be able to educate our people on the consequences of corruption. At the moment, corruption is so instilled, we start instilling it in children when they so young like stealing exams for them,” said Ong’wen adding that : “create policies, laws and plans that are able to punish corruption.”
The second issue that came up today was Ruto jumping into the debate and accusing Raila is working with KEMSA folks involved in Covid corruption.
“Wewe wacha kuongea maneno ya corruption, you have no business giving us lectures about corruption when you are dining with Covid-19 billionaires. You cannot be preaching water and taking wine,” he stated.
So if Ruto wants a discussion on corruption and how to deal with it then let’s have that discussion with all the cards on the table. All these talks about what Azimio or UDA will do to improve the lives of Kenyans starts with putting a sledgehammer on corruption in the country.
When Ndii and his UDA friends talk about using development budget to create jobs he forgets one thing. That same development money is stolen every day. Why not ask Ruto what happened with Shs. 70 billion to build dams in Rift Valley. That was all grabbed and William went all over the country telling Kenyans that just some little money got lost. The last time I checked Shs. 70 billion is not very little unless you are someone like Ruto who owns trillions worth of property in Kenya.
The question in Kenya is not about which money you are going to use whether it is development money, borrowed money or taxes from Kenyans, or even grants. Thieves in government with so many now in UDA will steal the money regardless of the source.
Right now Kenyans are paying back hundreds of billions of money that the government borrowed from foreign countries that got stolen by some friends of Ruto himself. How the next government stops that theft is the issue on the table for the country in this election.
Adongo Ogony is a Human Rights Activist and a Writer who lives in Toronto, Canada