If someone duped Kinoti, he must exact painful vengeance on them

George Kinoti

Director of Criminal Investigations George Kinoti addresses some survivors of the 2007-08 post-election violence who had gone to record statements at the DCI headquarters in Nairobi on November 23.

Photo credit: Evans Habil | Nation Media Group

What you need to know:

  • An outraged President Uhuru Kenyatta appeared to strongly suggest that Kinoti’s dramatic performance was wholly unsupported by thought. 
  • First of all, Kinoti is hardly the first public official to land in hot soup after moving with exemplary enthusiasm to execute instructions which later turn out to have come from improper quarters.

George Kinoti, the Director of Criminal Investigations, appears to have had quite a torrid week. Then again, perhaps he didn’t. When Kinoti held his momentous press conference earlier in the week, he left no doubt in the observant mind that he spoke directly for the highest level of executive authority in the land.

The DCI was in his spectacular element, oozing vehement resolve to finally put the spectre of 2007/2008 post-election violence to rest. He displayed implacable commitment to grabbing evasive perpetrators and doyens of impunity by the scruff of the neck, and making them face the music.

Except that many people perceived Kinoti’s zealous intervention to be ill-conceived and highly insensitive of its highly charged sociopolitical context. Not only that, Kinoti’s conference was seen as providing an emotive backdrop for the launch of pro-BBI signatures, only two days hence.

Sadly for Kinoti, the BBI event took a typical Nairobi turn. An outraged President Uhuru Kenyatta appeared to strongly suggest that Kinoti’s dramatic performance was wholly unsupported by thought. Hardly the sort of feedback a hyper-motivated servant expects from an appreciative boss.

Legitimate authority

If we were to consider how matters reached this uncomfortable point, one inference is inescapable: George Kinoti might have operated out of a severe misapprehension of his instructions, or had acted in good faith pursuant to instructions he wrongly believed to emanate from legitimate authority. I suggest that we work with the latter hypothesis, and proceed quite carefully to examine the thing.

First of all, Kinoti is hardly the first public official to land in hot soup after moving with exemplary enthusiasm to execute instructions which later turn out to have come from improper quarters.

During the Goldenberg Scandal inquiry, many civil servants attributed their culpable actions to “pressure from everywhere” and the usual culprit, “orders from above”. Accurate accounts are hard to come by, but it has been estimated that this scandal caused the country to lose up to Sh65 billion in the early 1990s.

Kinoti is not a slobbering idiot. No one rises to his rank and office by being a clueless lout or mediocre knucklehead. The public officers who have displayed infuriating gullibility and exasperating incompetence in office are often highly qualified individuals of exceptional competence.

So, what gives?

The closest clue is the apparent bogey everyone in public service fingers, from besieged governors to bewildered Cabinet secretaries, and everyone else in between. It goes by various identities: cartels or “deep state”— spectral and amorphous entities which nevertheless are highly co-ordinated schemes through which wheeler dealers and power brokers extract billions of public funds. Of course, these brokers operate in the shadowy margins of the public sphere, doing brisk business in the strategic optics of association and access.

 Profiling themselves as formidable operatives whose wishes carry tremendous weight in the corridors of power, these colourful characters incorporate into informal hubs of political influence.

By leveraging the notorious orality and informality of our public sector’s principally off-record procedures and processes, cartels create the plausible yet entirely illusory impression of impregnable legitimacy.

Because they are utterly non-existent within any formal framework, they are also insulated from responsibility. Thus, they pressure anxious and eager public officials to escalate unwholesome escapades to the very top of organisational agenda at the expense of genuine public needs.

The basic typology is as follows. Cartels are mainly privately instigated coordination of delinquency to exploit weaknesses in the public sector. When powerful bureaucrats are co-opted into cartel activity, the Kenyan iteration of the “deep state” manifests.

When high-profile, self-styled associates of serious power come calling at a state office, they hardly need to declare, “Nimetumwa!” Swaggering confidently and blustering arrogantly, their errands are invariably urgent.

The entire purpose of this fraudulent industry known as the “deep state” is to entice officers to circumvent formal structures and the clarity, transparency and accountability they require. The cartels are also powerful catalysts of the socialisation, normalisation and institutionalisation of corruption and impunity. They are the classic wolves in sheep’s clothing.

On Wednesday, Kinoti’s eyes were opened; the Deep State was stripped. Whoever had set him up on this fiasco was badly exposed. Fortunately, Kinoti’s embarrassment is nothing compared with Anglo Leasing or Goldenberg, to name but a few historical clangers.

What’s more, he has an opportunity to exert the considerable power of his office to investigate them thoroughly and forward an airtight dossier to the public prosecutor. Giving false information to a public officer is a serious offence, even if it is only a lowly civil servant.

Deceiving Kenya’s top sleuth is a totally different kettle of fish. I strongly submit that the DCI is entitled to, and must exact wrathful vengeance in full. We can retire these cartels and the diabolical “deep state” for good.

DCI Kinoti,  cheza kama wewe!

  @EricNgeno

Welcome!

You're all set to enjoy unlimited Prime content.