Kenya’s corruption purge makes women unfair targets

By: LUIS FRANCESCHI

We must weed out corruption and build a strong system of justice that the people can trust.”

When Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo (former president of the Philippines, 2001-2010) said this, she did not know she would spend the second half of her life in jail.

She was arrested on corruption charges in 2011 and remains in detention until today.

In recent times, Asia has had five prominent women heads of State, four of whom were accused of, and charged with, corruption. Among the accused, three had studied at Oxford.

Is there a correlation between education, intelligence, gender and corruption? It usually takes two to tango, but in Kenya we do it alone.

The rapid increase of widespread corruption and the evidence of complicity, complacency and well-established systems of impunity is undermining the sacred roots of our society.

It is clear that something must be done and time is running out. There has been no conclusive investigation regarding the “list of shame”, the Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission remains headless and commissioner-less, and the DPP has been numbed. The Auditor-General spoke, but it seems that we could not hear.

The disturbing bit is that whatever we are doing, we seem to be targeting only women. I wonder if the recent attacks on CS Waiguru are a sincere fight against corruption. Is this an attack on corruption or women or both?

For a while, the only victims of public media trials have been women. I’m afraid the spree will not come to an end soon, and anyone belonging to the female gender should feel threatened.

Certainly, no one should hide behind gender, race or tribe to perpetrate or justify acts of corruption, and no one should assume that all women are angels.

However, it appears women are more likely than men to be whistle-blowers. It is also a fact that most sustained, organised and successful media outcries and garment-tearing exercises against corruption in the last four years have targeted high-profile women in the public service.

First, we can bring back the late Zipporah Wandera to memory. She was Nairobi town clerk.

Nothing wrong was ever proved against her, but she was perhaps the weakest link and biggest obstacle to the then City Council corruption chain.

Her departure saw nothing more than the wholesome depletion of efficiency in what was left of the City Council.

Then it was Jacinta Mwatela, acting governor of the Central Bank. We never knew exactly what happened but she bowed to media and political pressure and left.

Then we had Nancy Barasa. The media did not forgive her. Pressure mounted to a level a mother did not want to handle and she was pushed to resign.

Nancy was followed by Gladys Boss Shollei, who was declared guilty by the press in absentia and whose removal took place before any court had time to determine the case. Gladys was succeeded by Monica Juma, whose rejection was outright unjustified.

Now it seems to be Anne Waiguru’s turn to face the media jury and be convicted, based not on evidence, but on the number of tweets.

We should not declare these women innocent; neither should we declare them guilty. It is not our job. That’s what courts are there for.

Has a legal process been started? Has any evidence been produced before the courts? Is the Director of Public Prosecutions gathering evidence and analysing its origin and veracity?

Can the massive depletion of public funds in a mammoth ministry that combined six former ministries be linked to Ms Waiguru?

Too many questions need to be answered before we continue this fuzz. Mob justice is a great injustice.

Certainly, there is a problem and it needs to be investigated; this cannot be denied. But I remain reluctant to condemn Ms Waiguru before the courts do so. For this to happen the DPP has to do his job first, then the judges.

Whatever the case, the gender imbalance in the fight against corruption remains a disturbing fact.

It seems in Kenya only women are corrupt, and even more disturbing, they are the only ones who resign, go home and vanish from the public eye.

Certainly, it would not be honest to look at gender when discussing ethical conduct, because everyone is equal.

But I wonder, are women less equal than others in Kenya, or is it that “we men” are more cunning and better at cheating?

SOURCE: DAILY NATION