President William Ruto has pledged to have the recommendations put forward by the David Maraga task force implemented. And Kenyans must demand that he live up to his word on this one, if on nothing else.
Besides matters such as salary increment for the men, women and officers of the National Police Service, Kenya Prisons Service and National Youth Service, the team led by the former Chief Justice made proposals on wide-ranging issues but, most importantly, fresh vetting for the top brass.
If the President is committed to the implementation of the report, then he must immediately suspend Inspector-General of Police Japhet Koome, Deputy Inspectors-General Douglas Kanja and Noor Gabow, as well as Director of Criminal Investigations (DCI) Mohamed Amin.
It is obvious that an independent panel to determine if the top bosses have the necessary skills, attitude, vision and moral fortitude to remain in office cannot proceed while they are still active. The President must ask those to be subjected to fresh vetting to step aside so that the process can commence and proceed without interference, obstruction and sabotage.
This is not something to be taken lightly. The Maraga task force established that, of the three uniformed services, the police, in particular, is rotten to the core. Institutionalised corruption is deeply embedded within, right from the constable on the beat all the way up the ranks.
Every day, the public witness open graft at those traffic police roadblocks that populate virtually every inch of highway, ostensibly erected to ensure road safety but, in reality, to extract bribes from motorists, particularly matatus, buses and commercial vehicles. But police bosses do nothing about that because the proceeds filter upwards to their protruding bellies.
And that is only the most visible form of corruption: Almost every other police activity—including criminal investigations, general maintenance of law and order, routine patrols, controls of illicit liquor and narcotic drugs, border controls, checking bars and nightclubs on observance of operating hours and excessive noise—is dictated by graft.
Severe deficit of leadership
In simple language, Maraga established that the police service is itself a criminal organisation. His task force established that the biggest problem is a severe deficit of leadership, top officers who have neither the capacity nor inclination to be agents of change and reform. It then follows that those at the helm cannot be entrusted with cleaning out the rot deeply ingrained within themselves and should be let free to pursue other vocations.
One must, in fact, conclude that the recommendation for fresh vetting was Maraga’s polite way of proposing the sacking of the entire police leadership. That is the only to prepare the ground for a fresh start after sending home all those responsible for building a system that otherwise would be beyond redemption.
We must recognise, while at it, that whatever afflicts the police and other institutions is a reflection of a national malaise. If the President appreciates the need to clean up the police, it will only be a precursor to extending the broom to the entire governance, justice, law and order edifice.
And that will not be an end in itself but something geared towards rebirth of institutions that can then be trusted to lead the war against corruption, sloth, incompetence and maladministration across the entire government and the national psyche. He must understand that his ambitious programme of change and national renewal will be dead on arrival unless the people and institutions entrusted with its delivery are of unparalleled commitment and diligence.
Surrender against graft
Many years have passed since Kenyans saw on national television President Ruto’s predecessor, Uhuru Kenyatta, surrender on the war against graft. More recently, one of the most trusted advisers and strategists in the corridors of power revealed on social media that President Ruto was himself resigned to perpetual corruption in government as he didn’t have the stomach to sack everyone dipping their fingers in the till.
That was frightening, for word on the street now is that corruption is running out of control in this administration and could surpass the unbridled looting of the Moi error (sic). Nearly all the projects being sold as solutions to the cost of living are driven through opaque processes for the direct benefit of the new power merchants in town. This has become a government of cartels, by cartels, for cartels.
But there is only one president, and the buck stops with him. He can demonstrate his resolve by starting with implementation of the Maraga Report.
That is the only way President Ruto will stop the slide to a ‘lootocracy’.
[email protected]. @MachariaGaitho