Alarming amounts of money funding dirty game of politics

Vehicles belonging to Jubilee's senatorial candidate for Nyeri Ephraim Maina on May 31, 2017 make their way to Giakanja trading centre in Tetu to mobilise residents to verify their voter details. On the face of it, that’s fine. If you have money to burn, that’s your problem. PHOTO | JOSEPH KANYI | NATION MEDIA GROUP

What you need to know:

  • Some African leaders have constructed inappropriate relations with international mercenaries and gunrunners.
  • What is alarming are the amounts involved and the distortion of the economy caused by these criminals. 

Kenyans have worked themselves into a hole regarding the financing of elections.

By some estimates, the presidential election will cost the candidates some Sh5 billion at the barest minimum; they will most likely spend three times that figure each.

On the face of it, that’s fine. If you have money to burn, that’s your problem.

CORRUPTION

But, no one has that kind of money. And those who do might not be willing to spend it on their own politics.

Again, there is no problem. If you can find people willing to burn money on your campaign, why should anyone complain?

And there lies the problem. There is anecdotal evidence that at least some of the money fuelling our dramatic and extravagant elections is the proceeds of corruption, drugs and gunrunning.

Some African leaders have constructed inappropriate relations with international mercenaries and gunrunners.

REWARD

You may argue that it’s really their problem so long as they do not break the law.

After all, politics is a dirty game, right? And here lies the problem: The cost to our children and their future is just not acceptable.

Politicians – and I don’t mean those from only one party - are being paid by corrupt business people to forego their ambitions and support one another.

In exchange, they allow the business people to decide which projects are to be implemented, by whom and at what cost.

They also allow these “benefactors” to decide policy, and sometimes, law.

EXPLOITERS
Now, you might argue, what is wrong with smart and hardworking “business people” contributing to policy?

The truth is that these are not business people but profiteers who trade their influence and broker contracts.

In the past, they played games and forced the country into commercial debt against which they delivered nothing.

Today, their business is the wholesale export of our sweat to China.

They cook tenders on behalf of Chinese companies in exchange for a percentage of the money.

Thus, nearly all the infrastructure projects are going to Chinese companies, are built with mainly Chinese materials, using Chinese labour.

NO JOBS
In the meantime, we are spending tens of billions of shillings every year, producing engineers whom we have no work for because our construction is done by Chinese engineers.

Your beloved politician who is sweet talking you today is most probably wearing a campaign gown made in China and is handing you campaign posters printed in China and campaign T-shirts made in China.

So your son, who is a textile engineer, has no job but is expected to pay the debt incurred and squandered by some tender baron and his political friends.

What is alarming are the amounts involved and the distortion of the economy caused by these criminals. 

POLICE GEAR

This is not an entirely new phenomenon either; it’s been going on but on a much smaller scale and confined to the security sector.

Have you seen the difference between the uniforms and weapons carried by our SWAT teams and other specialised security squads and the military jumpsuits and flak jackets and helmets worn by their counterparts in America, Europe and Australia?

The average Rapid Deployment Unit service member looks like he is hanging a giant serving tray on his chest, wears boots from another century and green trousers similar to those sold in supermarkets.

I don’t know for a fact, but I am willing to bet that we pay five times more for that crap than what the London Metropolitan Police pays for their folks.

INSECURITY
I respect John Githongo. He is a strong, brave man.

He lifted the skirt so that we could see how ugly our country had become. But we did nothing about it.

How long are we going to put up with this?

The people of my generation and I have spent our lives following these politicians, fighting in the streets and in the newspapers for constitutional change, human rights, sometimes even the bad politics of our tribes.

We are generally broke, we have suffered insecurity and poor services, even though we have slaved for 20 years.

Now you want our children to go through the same thing. You must be joking.

*****
Mr Dikembe Dikembe, a blogger, was this week setting me up to be killed by publishing falsehoods on social media.

What made me sad are the many Kenyans who were excited by his drivel, excited by the prospect of a malicious person attempting to destroy an innocent and patriotic man.

Few asked him to support his incendiary postings. How evil is that!
****
Chief Maina Kiai has asked me to, and I hereby do clarify that he does not work for opposition leader Raila Odinga.

Rather, he advises friends, both in Jubilee and Nasa, on democracy and human rights, verbally and through position papers.

Mr Mathiu is Executive Editor, Print. This is his opinion, not necessarily that of the Nation. [email protected]

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