What you need to know:
- Uhuru said he will not listen to his detractors and that he does not mind losing friends should push come to shove.
- The National Assembly leadership has invited the EACC to investigate the allegations of corruption against MPs.
- Raila challenged the international community to join the crusade and help the country recover the loot stashed in their countries.
The renewed vigour in the fight against corruption and the ongoing demolition of structures built on riparian land may have lost President Uhuru Kenyatta some friends, but also gained him many more.
Crucially, he has earned the necessary political goodwill he needs to establish a legacy during his final term.
The most obvious reward is the rapport this new crusade has created between the President and opposition leader Raila Odinga, the effects of which have trickled down to Nasa co-principals Musalia Mudavadi and Moses Wetang’ula, who have also lauded the efforts.
Within no time, the mood in the nation has changed.
Suddenly, there is optimism in the streets, guarded, though, by the experience of the lessons of history, when such crusades died down as soon as they started.
Still, even the President’s biggest critics have noted with considerable admiration the dedication with which his administration, in his second and last term, is going for corrupt officials and their illegally acquired wealth.
Behind the scenes, however, the President has been receiving considerable flak and, on Sunday, he stood behind the inviolable pulpit at Faith Evangelistic Ministry church in Karen, Nairobi, to reveal how some of his close friends have asked him to go slow on the graft purge.
With finality in his voice, however, he stared the congregation in the eye and said he will not listen to his detractors and that he does not mind losing friends should push come to shove.
“Over the last few weeks I have lost many friends. Many have called me to ask: ‘How could you be watching when all the destruction is going on?’
"But I have sat back and said: You know what, I am not able to stop it, because a time has come that we must fight impunity.
“Let us lose our friends and do what is right in the eyes of God. We shall gain other friends. Let us create a society that respects and treasures hard work and integrity, a nation with a conscience,” he said.
And then he wrapped his message with an ominous promise: “No matter how powerful you think you are, no matter how much money you have, it will not save you now.”
Saying it is time Kenyans united to fight impunity and create a just society where every person has an equal opportunity to get a decent job based on his qualification, President Kenyatta said nothing will hold him back now.
“For this country to succeed, we must fight corruption; we must fight impunity. These are some of things that have held us back for many years,” he said.
His sentiments were echoed by Nasa leader Raila Odinga who called on the Asset Recovery Agency (ARA) to move with speed and ensure that all corruption suspects, whether released on bail or still fighting to launder their past, do not hide their ill-gotten wealth or use it to undermine justice.
And, in an indirect reference to the allegations last week of bribery of members of Parliament to reject the sugar report on Thursday, Mr Odinga said the House must come clean on the matter, otherwise it will derail the President’s efforts to clean the nation.
“The public currently feels cheated by Parliament, which has become the weakest link in this war with reports of money changing hands for adoption or rejection of reports,” Mr Odinga said.
“This is a major shame to the nation and deserves urgent and thorough investigation by a multiagency team from the Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission, the Directorate of Public Prosecutions, and the Directorate of Criminal Investigations.”
Interestingly, it is National Assembly Minority Leader John Mbadi, one of Mr Odinga’s most active and faithful lieutenants in Parliament, who led the crusade to shoot down the sugar report on a fiery, if not amusing, Thursday afternoon last week.
At one point during his contribution to the House, Mr Mbadi said he would not be intimidated by his colleagues in declaring that the report had nothing to implicate National Treasury Cabinet Secretary Henry Rotich.
“You cannot intimidate and blackmail me, I’m a senior member of this house,” he said.
“There is nothing in this report that implicates Mr Rotich. Let us not play politics and debate.”
The National Assembly leadership has since invited the EACC to investigate the allegations of corruption against MPs.
Speaker Justin Muturi last week instructed Clerk of the House Michael Sialai to ask the MPs who openly spoke against the vice to provide more information to the Powers and Privileges Committee of the House.
“My office and the House leadership in general takes the bribery allegations within the precincts of Parliament very seriously and this must be thoroughly investigated and appropriate action taken in line with the relevant laws,” Mr Muturi said.
The MPs who lifted the lid on the bribery scam claimed that some of their colleagues had received as little as Sh10,000 to shoot down the report.
On the ongoing demolition of structures on riparian zones, Mr Odinga said the ARA must seize and return to the public all the money generated by the unlawful businesses.
The recovered wealth, he added, should be used to fill funding gaps in national development projects and repay Kenya’s huge foreign debt.
“Partly because of wanton theft of public funds, including those from donors, taxes are going up on virtually everything. Ordinary Kenyans must not continue to bear this burden while the corrupt keep their loot,” Mr Odinga said.
“Depriving corrupt actors of this ill-gotten wealth and returning it to the public will support development and economic growth and restore confidence in the current crackdown. Corruption must be made a painful crime.”
The Orange Democratic Movement party leader also challenged the international community, which has been complaining about entrenched corruption in government, to join the crusade and help the country recover the loot stashed in their countries.
“About three months ago, the DPP appealed for the collaboration of the Federal Bureau of Investigations in the fight against corruption. We are anxiously waiting for that support, preferably in more practical ways than routine capacity building and training.
"Already, Switzerland has promised to probe their banks and trace Kenya’s assets and funds hidden there. All our other partners should do the same,” Mr Odinga said.
Mr Odinga credited his political alliance with the President for the renewed effort against corruption, saying corrupt individuals who have been hiding behind the disgraceful armour of ethnicity whenever their integrity was questioned now have nowhere to run or hide.
“The political atmosphere has enabled us to look at our problems minus the usual ethnic lenses. Attempts by suspects to appeal to their ethnic bases have therefore generated near-zero support,” he said.