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Kenyans await Maraga’s death blow to graft

Kenyans are walking about with renewed optimism as the war against impunity gathers steam.

Apparently, years of graft, abuse of office, enrichment at the public expense and lack of accountability among public servants is about to come to an end. The mta do? (do your worst) culture is coming to a close.

Events in the last one week have been breathtaking. Former Nairobi governor Evans Kidero was arrested and whisked to court to answer corruption charges. Kidero has had all manner of accusations of corruption levelled against him for years, all the way from his days as managing director of Mumias Sugar Company.

Despite outrage over his tenure at Mumias and more recently as governor of Nairobi, Kidero brushed aside all the allegations. For a while, it seemed as if Kidero does indeed walk on water. Until last week.

Two buildings that have literally been built on rivers in Nairobi were finally brought down. The newly-constructed South End Mall in Nairobi’s South C has been the cause of outrage in the last two years, for causing flooding during rains. The mall was completed despite all the noise. It seemed nobody could do anything about it. Until last week.

The same applied to Nakumatt Ukay Building in Nairobi’s Westlands, whose owners have seemingly walked on water for over two decades.

Clearly, the impregnable fortresses of impunity has finally been breached. Now, Kenyans can await the deluge as the domino effect takes over. The Executive has demonstrated that it has finally decided to tackle corruption.

Focus now turns to the Judiciary. For corruption to be dealt a death blow, the courts must play their part. Kenyans are waiting with bated breath for this process to be completed.

It was refreshing to hear Chief Justice David Maraga declare last week that the courts will deal expeditiously with corruption cases. In fact, Maraga needs to go one better. Just like election petitions have dedicated courts and deadlines, the same should apply for corruption cases.

It is worrying that graft cases are piling up in the courts since the crackdown started, and are yet to start being heard. Delay of corruption cases in courts has been the single most abused method to frustrate hearing and determination.

The Judiciary must also not leave behind the many graft cases that have stalled for years as prosecutors and judges conspire to delay their conclusion. The CJ must join Director of Public Prosecutions Noordin Haji and Director of Criminal Investigations George Kinoti, in the clean- up drive. Kenyans want to hear convictions and long jail terms.

The third arm of government, the Legislature, is still living in the bad old Kenya. Speaker of the National Assembly Justin Muturi must drag Parliament kicking and screaming into the new Kenya.

The media has been awash with revelations of how MPs are being bribed to pursue  partisan agenda. How can Kenya rejuvenate itself when Parliament is awash with graft? Muturi, the country is looking at you, expecting the same broom that is sweeping clean the rest of the country to descend on the bad apples giving the august House a bad name.

Major challenges remain. Some corruption cases will require huge political will. The names that have been mentioned in connection with the Ruaraka school land saga present an interesting case of the Executive’s will to strike at the very core of corruption.

Further, the revelation by the DCI that he has rejected several attempts to bribe him with mind-boggling sums of money  demonstrates that danger lies in every corner. All anti-corruption crusaders must remain vigilant, accountable to each other and to Kenyans, and focussed. Corruption does not just roll over and die! And it has bags of money.

Critically, all ill-gotten wealth must be confiscated and returned to the State. Those who have been charged with corruption must have assets and cash acquired through corrupt means seized, auctioned off, and proceeds deposited in the Consolidated Fund. The lesson must be learnt that corruption does not pay.

The prevailing practice of public servants using their offices to amass wealth through corruption must die forever. — gathukara@gmail.com