It is now official. The president is frustrated and helpless to do anything about corruption in his government! In the recent Statehouse summit on corruption and accountability, an un-presidential looking and un-presidential sounding Uhuru asked a half stunned half bemused audience, “sasa mnataka nifanye nini jameeni? ”. He hoped to convince Jubilee sympathizers and apologists that he has done everything he needs to do and that he was frustrated and helpless. He and those making this argument are asking the wrong question.
I agree with Uhuru that the fight against corruption is frustrating and that he is helpless to do anything about it. But I disagree that the problem is what he has or not done. The challenge in fighting corruption is not about what Uhuru has done or not done. It is about who he is and the symbolism of his government. I would personally have been shocked if he had made a dent on the fight against corruption. Such an act is impossible given who he is, what circumstances brought him to power and what his administration stands for. I will explain.
The Jubilee government is a tribal administration founded by a self-confessed YK92 hustler and a 2002-failed-Moi project who in 2013 were fugitives from international justice indicted at the ICC for crimes against humanity. I can understand why they would want to come together. And that is the problem.
A union consummated in the bed of impunity can NEVER give birth to an accountable and corruption free administration. It is a simple fact that even a Sunday school kid will tell you. You reap what you saw. With unbelievable hubris, the duo went about demonizing anything and everything that was asking for accountability in regard to the post-election violence. It became taboo to support the victims or to ask for accountability.
Let me be clear.
Those supporting the ICC process were not asking for the conviction of the two, they were asking for accountability. The duo rubbished the process, gave Chapter 6 of the Constitution the finger, ran for the presidency on an anti-ICC tribal siege mentality , and won. (Or stole if you ask Raila Odinga). The message that this sent to the corrupt tormentors of the regime is that the end justifies the means. The greatest shield against accountability is power. Get it by any and all means necessary. They not only proved this they also showed how to use power to evade accountability.They unleashed the spirit of impunity that they are now struggling to contain.
The message that this sent to the now corrupt tormentors of his regime is that the end justifies the means. They taught the corrupt that the greatest shield against accountability is power. Get it by any means necessary and use it for impunity. It is called state capture. The use of state power to advance extra-judicial and corrupt ends.
Immediately they won the presidency came the hustler’s jet scandal. Does it surprise anyone that the first act of impropriety and impunity on the part of the jubilee government was directly related to the reason they had run for the presidency in the first place, to scuttle the ICC? Haven’t they, since then, completely scuttled the process through any and all means available to them, all of them extra-judicial? Haven’t the corrupt cartels taken a cue from them about how to use power to circumvent justice? If the fight against corruption and impunity is the political circus he called it, it is because he and his deputy wrote the script. The West Africans say the man who brings a dead rat to his house should not complain when maggots pay him a visit.
A good question to ask is. Hadn’t he been saddled with the curse of the ICC, would Uhuru Kenyatta have successfully fought corruption?
No. He wouldn’t.
First, hadn’t he been saddled with the ICC indictment, Uhuru would never have become president. He would have lacked the motivation to do so. Remember, Uhuru did not originally seek the presidency because he had the motivation, ambition or ability to. He ran for president because Moi told him so. He needed the tragedy of the ICC to see the value of the presidency for himself. Secondly, without the ICC, the tribal coalition that propelled him to power would have been difficult or impossible to form.
But let us assume that he became president without the ICC process. He still would not have successfully fought corruption. Again, because of who he is. It is not possible to find any Kenyan presently who, on his own behalf, on behalf of his family, his and his fathers’’ (biological and political) associates is more invested in the status quo than Uhuru Kenyatta. He is the poster boy of an oligarchy started by his father and entrenched by his political godfather and which he is a captive of. I have made the argument before that if Jomo Kenyatta, Daniel Arap Moi and Mwai Kibaki met to select their successor, all would agree on Uhuru.
Does the Constitution tie his hands as he claims?
There are two ways of looking at this. Uhuru is a sceptic when it comes to the new constitution and his Deputy is an apostate who opposed it. They have a healthy contempt for the Constitution. They are ready to use it as an excuse for their own incompetence. This is an incurable problem, and I suspect is emanates from the earlier discussed investment of Uhuru in the status quo. The only viable proposition was for them not to run for the presidency under a constitution they did not believe in. This is what happened to David Cameron when he lost the Brexit vote. He resigned. He knew it was futile for him to try and implement something that he had opposed. In 2013, we did the opposite, elected Uhuru and Ruto into an office where they were supposed to implement and protect a constitution they did not believe in.
But still, if the constitution is the problem, why hasn’t he proposed amendments that would enable him fight corruption? After all, he did it with the security laws. Whether such amendments would pass or not is not the point, that he has not proposed them means he has not done all he could to fight corruption.
Regardless of what he has done or not done Uhuru cannot run away from who he is. I hope he has learnt his lesson – you can use power to run away from the ICC, but how do you run away from your history, your name and your own shadow?
(Initially published by Saturday Nation on 22nd October 2013: http://www.nation.co.ke/oped/Opinion/president-Kenyatta-cannot-run-away-from-who-he-is/440808-3425506-jha4c6z/)