Thursday, February 23, 2006



The parliamentary Service Commission has been busy reviewing the perks of the MPs. Barely a year has passed since the MPs awarded themselves hefty pay hikes and allowances. The emoluments they have given themselves are to put it mildly obscene.. The increase is not commensurate with the inflation rate neither is it related to economic growth rate. We cannot even justify it on the basis of increased work load. It is therefore incumbent upon the Commission to explain to the nation, that is the employer and paymaster, the criteria used to arrive at those figures.

Just because the corruption loopholes are being sealed does not mean that they should now loot directly. Is this another political fundraising project or is it in preparation for the jail time they will not be earning anything?

The country is tired of feeding unproductive leaders. Some of them have not even made their maiden speeches? The overseas allowance is a gross abuse of reality is irresponsible expenditure of public finance. A per diem of $760 in USA? Ridiculous! Are they Donald Trump? You can get reasonable full board accommodation in Washington DC for half that amount, three meals a day and a swimming pool! Are these foreign trips fund raising ventures? What happened to the old system of imprest. I will bet my next paycheck that if you asked them to produce receipts to cover the allowance, they will be hard pressed even if they inflate the figures.

On what basis were these figures arrived at? Did the embassies in the respective countries confirm them? Let us stop the looting of public funds through giving it an aura of official approval.

Our ministers and their assistants are among the most highly paid in the world. With the bloated cabinet we have, it amounts to pampering them for political purposes. This is corruption of the first order. The perks will be jingled every time one of them expresses dissenting voices. Let us hear them say this is undeserved pay hike. Let them shoot it down and act at least reasonably if not responsibly.

When was the last time parliament debated salary increase for the common mwananchi. The annual ritual of raising the minimum wage by 5% or 7% every labor day is seen as satisfactory. The only thing is this minimum wage was overtaken by events a decade ago. You cannot live on the minimum wage, thanks to the employers they no longer consider those guidelines otherwise there would be nobody to work for you.

As the president talks of performance contracts for the ministers and civil servants, we need performance contracts for the MPs. Going to sleep in bunge for the better part of the 90 days that the house sits in a year and taking home over quarter million shillings as bonus at the end of the year, over and above all the other tax free allowances, is obscene. Bonuses are awarded on the basis of performance, profitability and value produced. Not on the basis of just being on the payroll. We need an explanation and satisfactory justification for this latest looting of our kitty. Over to you Hon. Kaparo.

Tuesday, February 14, 2006



Now that the four Ms are gone, (or stepped aside) Murungaru, Mwiraria, Murungi, and Muthengi what next? What of the other two M's Moody and Muthaura?

Let the president agonize about their replacements, as usual politics will take precedence over merit. Two Merus and a Masai are bound to join the cabinet in the endless dance of tribal balance and voter mollifying strategy. But that is not a major issue, what is at stake here are the underlying causes and consequence of the events leading to these resignations. The resignation of these fellows should open the way for accelerated investigations and arraignments of these suspects in court.

The case for Saitoti is clear. Sixteen years of investigations, denials and commissions should produce adequate materials for instantaneous prosecution. The endless charade of commissions on commissions should end. The people want to see these suspected economic saboteurs in court answering for their deeds or misdeeds. This should not be window dressing for the donors, it should be justice for the common man whose sweat was expended and whose heritage was squandered.

The stepping aside should not be a strategy to cool the tempers and ease the pressure from the people. Though it should be a sobering moment, it should not be construed that the Anglo Leasing saga is now solved. An arsonist does not go free just because the fire has been put out.

We should not have the investigations tied in bureaucratic red tape. It is true former PS Githongo has a duty to give a statement on the Anglo Leasing saga but it is not true that his statement can only be given in Nairobi. Given the magnitude of his claims against so called prominent personalities, his apprehension on his security is understandable. Regardless of the assurance by the government, Kenyans have not yet learnt to fully trust their government. Therefore if the mountain cannot come to Mohamed, Mohamed must go to the mountain. We should spare no resources in reaching to the bottom of this scandal and sealing all loopholes so that others with similar tendencies should be stopped in their tracks.

While investigations are going on the former ministers should be in protective custody as state guests in Kamiti. There is something called interfering with investigations. The owner of the collapsed building in Nairobi is a state guest at Kamiti because investigations are going on. The Anglo Leasing scandal players should be away from the public. Given their stature in society they are most likely to be intimidating any potential witnesses. Lock them up after all there is sufficient cause to suspect their complicity in the crime. We should not be going softly on some people just because they are friends with the seat of power. The president’s acceptance of their stepping aside, albeit belatedly and reluctantly, shows his willingness to distant himself from his cronies.

The resignation of Gitonga, Murungi and Murungaru has shattered the second power center that has been jostling for influence with the old guards; this clears the way for the Karume, Michuki, and Wanjui group to entrench themselves as the principle power brokers around the president. We do not moan the departure of the younger group. They had their chance to change the course of our nation but they succumbed to greed and corruption. They put self above nation, greed before thrift, arrogance before service and pride preceded their fall.

The people will not relent, the remaining two M's of Anglo Leasing remnants, Moody and Muthaura, must also step aside. If Kibaki is serious about making corruption something of the past, he must start by making sure his house is spotless. Right now, in the language of old Kanu, there are madoadoa (spots) of corruption and they will pollute the rest of the cargo. They should also step aside for the juggernaut of transparency to roll and flatten all the molehills of corruption before they become mountains.

The president’s action in the next few days will give a clear indication of his commitments. So far his language and actions do not show seriousness in the fight against corruption. This thing can not be fought through public appeals for calm and reason. The people have learnt the hard way, over a number of year, that whenever the government says the matter is under investigation, it literary means the matter is being removed from the public eye, hence being suppressed. The president should be decisive and be seen to act. The president should not sit and wait for his ministers to be pricked by their conscience and resign. Some have no conscience to prick them. Some respond by seeking to cross examine their accusers and trying to introduce extraneous issues in the debate. The president must act, after all he appointed the cabinet, if he can hire he can also fire. So what is the business of stepping aside, fire them and order a fast probe on their affairs. If not you will be sinking with them. Mr. President the time to act is now. 2007 is fast approaching. What legacy of your presidency will you bequeath your country?

Charles Wairia

Monday, February 13, 2006



Martin Meredith in his book The Fate of Africa notes that ‘for the most part, Africa has suffered grievously at the hands of its Big Men and its ruling elites.’ On Kenya he observes that ‘even when regimes have changed hands, new governments, whatever promises they made on arrival, have lost little time in adopting the habits of their predecessors.’ Three years after declaring that ‘corruption will cease to be a way of life in Kenya’, the government is seen to be doing little to combat the menace.

The western world and the donor community, to whom we constantly turn for largesse and support, are slowly exhibiting fatigue symptoms. The vast amount of aid sunk into the country is not replicated in discernible projects and programs. People are dying of hunger and thirst, yet the Cereal Board is bursting with excess storage of maize. What is there is grand evidence of avarice, greed and conspicuous consumption by a privileged few. The pampering of the politically correct cabal at the expense of the nation is something that the people can no longer condone. When Kibaki declared war on corruption, it was to be fought by all and from all the fronts. Some of his confidants took it that the war was to be fought on other fronts and at the lower levels and they expected to continue with business as usual.

Most problems of post independent Africa can be traced directly to its leaders, their caliber, their vision, and their commitment to national ideals or lack thereof. Some leaders come into the scene full of promise and determination. One such was Kibaki, but he quickly found himself in the shackles of paternalism and political maneuvers which have manipulated his power and made him a lame duck. Kibaki’s hands-off style of leadership was taken as a license to loot. He trusted his ministers to act judiciously and patriotically, they ended up being malicious and spiteful. In spite of all the damning evidence, they still continue to cling on to office and the entrapments of power. This is abuse of the people’s intelligence and abrogation of the contract between the government and its people. The people cannot continue trusting the intentions and actions of their government when their confidence in the truthfulness, integrity and honor of the key players is heavily eroded. The people cannot, and should not, be forced to wait another two years before cleaning up the mess that is in the government today. The time to take the initiative is now. As the Swahili saying goes asiyezimba ufa atajenga ukuta. Stitch in time and save nine.

Kenya has had opportunities in the past to be a political show case in Africa and the world. Beginning with the peaceful transition of power in 1978 through the various elections, rigged or otherwise, to the era of competitive politics and ascension of opposition to the seat of power in 2002, Kenyans exhibited resilience and maturity rare in African politics. The people should not allow this faith and confidence to be lost because of the actions of a few. Demand for accountability at every level should be the clarion call. We must seize the time to show the world that we can live the true meaning of our national motto harambee, that we can pull together and in the same direction and rid ourselves of the corruptor and the corrupted.. It is not enough to just sweep the floor and leave the dirt by the door side. It must be collected and deposited in the compost pit where the stench does not permeate the house.

The government should not forget the lessons of the November 2005 referendum. People united in a course are like a juggernaut that will crash all on its path. Those able to harness this force will reap the fruits that fall when the tree is shaken. The international community is watching to see whether the government will respond to the cries of its people. Only then will they come in and help to pull them out of the abyss into which they have been deposited by the gluttony and greed of its leaders. The wanton suffering in the countryside, hunger, insecurity, breakdown in the infrastructure and the attendant neglect of the various projects should be addressed forthwith. We cannot continue to blame God for all our problems. God played His part when He endowed us with the capacity to think and act proactively. That is why He does not give us rain all the time so that we can sink wells and get water. The days of Moses talking to rocks to produce water are long gone. We need action, selfless and humble service. Some are however busy digging canals to divert the river course from its natural path and denying the others their rightful share of the water. Somebody please pull us out of this mess. But they have dug a pit, thrown us into the pit, we will surely not trust them to pull us out of the pit. It is time to look for someone to pull us out of the pit.

Charles Wairia

Thursday, February 09, 2006



You do not leave your burning house to go and sift through the ashes of your burnt granary. Common sense dictates that you put out the infernal and then find out what caused the fires in the granary and main house. The government is going about the business of corruption in Kenya in reverse order. The house is burning, firemen are the arsonists and yet you are calling them to sit down and discuss not only how to put out the fire but also the causes of the fire. They cannot be trusted to put the fire out neither would they be objective in the investigation. Let’s look at the firemen:
Kiraitu Murungi, the minister for Energy seems to have expended much energy in covering up and condoning corruption. The Githongo dossier is damning enough for any innocent person to lie low and not come out fighting. It merits response and rebuttal otherwise the court of public opinion will convict on available evidence. As a lawyer, the minister knows that courts convict on the basis of the presented evidence, not the withheld evidence however convincing it would have been. That the garrulous minister has been evasive and silent in the face of the accusations is indicative of the veracity and magnitude of the indictment. Continued silence and inaction is tantamount to contempt of the people’s court. The fire cannot be put out with him in the firefighting crew. Step aside and let the fire trucks through.
The VP Moody Awori seems to have been sucked into a quagmire way beyond his mantle. But he has gone about putting out the fire the wrong way. We all can see the house is on fire yet, uncle Moody is asking us what fire, who says I lit it? He may not have lit the match but he had the match box. He may not have fanned the fire but neither did he call in the fire brigade when the fire started. The fire can only be put out if he lets the firefighters in. Step aside and them in, they’ll establish your innocence or otherwise.
There is no doubt that Professor Saitoti has been one of the most prolific and active ministers in the Kibaki government. He has undertaken his education portfolio with the vigor and energy of a man on the run. He has been trying to run away from his past but it is fast catching up. Of all the Moi era Goldenberg perpetrators he is the only one still in the cabinet. When he therefore talks of ‘they’ chasing him for political expediency, we are lost as to who he refers to. The time for accountability is here and the shifting of blame to unnamed people is long gone. Either stand up and carry your cross or get your Cyrene to help you carry it. Unlike Anglo Leasing which is a flaring flame, Goldenberg is a smoldering heap refusing to die out. We may never recover the billions but our souls will be mollified when there will be token restitution and punishment of the guilty. The professor should step aside for us to rake through the embers, he cannot sit in the same cabinet that is trying him or even discussing him.
As argued above, we must put out the burning fire of Anglo Leasing before attempting to fight the fires of Goldenberg and allied. We cannot wait another ten years for Anglo Leasing and allied to be addressed. The evils of this government must be sorted by this government. This government is under obligation, least by its own electro promises, to cleanse itself of those scandals perpetrated and those perpetuated during its watch. Yes we need to know about all the past fires, we need to convict the past arsonists but the house is on fire now and the arsonists are right here. First let us stop and then chase those who lit yester fires.

Charles Wairia

Monday, February 06, 2006


Kibaki's Silence is Very Loud

Having lived in the land of George Bush for a few years now, one of the things I have noted about the man is his indefatigable drive to sell his policies and ideas. In the run up to the Iraq invasion the man moved and rallied his entire administration to the cause, however misguided. They read from the same script and danced to the same tune. There was no question that they were united in the run up to the war. In the failed social security reforms that the president fronted, he was out in the field day and night selling his ideas to whoever would listen. The program was not rejected for lack of salesmanship but for its inherent weaknesses. But this did not stop the president fronting it with vigor and gusto.

The Kenyan president on the other hand works from a completely different script. He assumes that all Kenyans are literate enough and economically endowed enough to be able to buy and read the newspapers or own radios and televisions to be able to follow the operations of their government. Kibaki’s style of leadership assumes he has the best people in the right jobs. It ignores that his cabinet appointments are mostly based on political merit rather than professional competence. When you appoint people on the basis of political merit, you have to provide political leadership to them. Leaving them to provide professional leadership leads to embarrassment and inadequacies in good governance.

The finger pointing and loud silence of the 88 plus cabinet is indicative of lack of political leadership. There are a few voices in the wild, Koigi, Nyaga, Kombo but these are forlorn echoes in the cavernous labyrinth that is corruption in Kenya. The voice that should be reverberating and thundering is missing. Every herdsman knows that there is always a thieving goat in every herd, and a good shepherd will keep a constant eye on it. He will constantly shout at it to turn back, and the goat will know it is marked. A herdsman cannot afford to slumber when the thieving goat is loose. Kibaki’s pen is full of thieving goats, they are not tethered and the herdsman is falling asleep.

Our land is calling for political direction. The country is bleeding from the wounds inflicted by corruption. Some of the thieving goats are tethered but still bleating, while others are silently munching, and chewing the cud, awaiting the gates to open they go browsing in the neighbors maize garden. The chief shepherd needs to reassure the neighbors that their plants are safe from his marauding herd.

The press has been doing a commendable job in most peoples eyes, (except Mwakwere and co). It has pointed out the evils that have permeated the society. It has brought the people’s conscience and awareness to a level that shames the lethargic elite that has left governance and leadership to the garrulous and incompetent. The press has broken down the façade and aura of invincibility that our leaders coat themselves with. Those incubating the eggs of corruption have now known that their hatcheries will be invaded and the chicks destroyed before they reach the brooders. What we need is for the big rooster to crow and all the others will fall in line.

Kibaki is not seizing the moment to articulate his policies and give this country direction. The president had to be dragged almost reluctantly from his Christmas recess to visit the dying of North Eastern province. This is no longer an issue in the public limelight. Even when Kenyans have to go and buy water in of all places Ethiopia, and be humiliated in the process, not even a local leader sees this as a problem. The president has not bothered to comment on the Anglo Leasing saga, maybe it is too ethereal for him. The Goldenberg report had to be squeezed into his busy schedule, we need to hear his comments on the same. The nation cannot afford to wait until the next Madaraka day or Jamhuri day for the president to address the issues that are bothering his people. Murungaru laid the blame of the navy ship tender on the president’s door step. Let us hear the president say something about it. Silence will be more fodder to rumors and innuendo. You cannot wish away an itch, you have to stretch your hand and scratch it, the people are itching for truth and justice.

All those adversely mentioned in the various corrupt deals, be they Anglo Leasing or Goldenberg, should step aside for justice and fairness to take course. Political expediency should not be allowed to overshadow morality and competence. Integrity and temperance in public service must be restored. The political class should not be allowed to instill benign loyalties to a cabal that is as transient as the regime which founds it. The civil service is a solid entity whose operations and policies continue to affect the people long after the regime is gone. It should not be operational at the exigencies of a political class but should serve all the people and protect their resources and heritage. It is therefore necessary to wipe out any contaminants at every level before it starts affecting the whole cargo.

My bible tells me ‘where there is no vision, people perish’ a nation’s vision can best be articulated by its president. People are by nature forgetful creatures, they therefore need to be reminded of their vision constantly otherwise they will curve out their own. The nation must pull together and the call must come from somewhere. Kenyatta talked Harambee, shouted Harambee, instilled Harambee. Moi talked Nyayo, shouted Nyayo, instilled Nyayo. Mr president, where do you want Kenyans to rally?

Wednesday, February 01, 2006



A lot has been said about the purchase of the Kenya Navy ship which has cast aspersions on the way this tender was handled. The armed forces have developed a culture of silence about their operations and expenses as if they are not budgeted from the public funds. The era of transparency and accountability calls for all institutions of the government to open themselves to public scrutiny.

The company awarded the contract is Astilleros Gondan SA of Figueros on the Bay of Biscay in Spain. It is an old company (est.1925 current location) best known for building of small fishing boats. It has been selling small fishing vessels to such African countries like Senegal, Gabon, Liberia and Angola since 1978.

The biggest job it has ever handled is the building of the 3807 ton Cloud II, a 96 passenger three mast luxury sailing ship completed in 2000 for a German company. It has a draught of 5.03 meters and a maximum speed of 14 knots. The other big jobs are two cargo vessels for Spain each displacing 2469 tons completed in 2001. There is no record of the company having manufactured any vessel for any navy anywhere in the world. The closest are the two 622 ton search and rescue vessels for the Indonesian police in 2002. These are not very impressive statistics for a company building a fighting ship for the Kenya Navy.

The company was not a registered Defense Equipment Supplier by Spanish Ministry of Defense and Spanish Ministry of Industry as defense equipment supplier and exporter before September 2005! This was two years after the signing of the contract with the Kenyan authorities. The mentioned registration allowed the company to offer, fit on board its constructions and export defense equipment according to Spanish regulations.

Questions that arise include how did the navy decide to deal with this company when it was not even licensed in its own country for such a job? How was it evaluated and pre qualified? Is the navy buying a fishing vessel which is the specialty of this company? The technical specifications for fishing vessels are different from those of a fighting ship. There is no record of this company having ever made any naval ship. Why is the Kenya navy the guinea pig for this company? As I have argued elsewhere there is something wrong with our procurement system. Four billion shillings is not small change, and when it is channeled through processes that are unclear for purchase of goods that are suspect, the pain is excruciating. Hence the demand that this contract be laid on the table, together with those other competitors who lost in the bidding. That way we might at least be mollified and our pain placated.

Charles Wairia

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