War on corruption is already lost, so let’s talk about something else

By: MAGESHA NGWIRI

When Senator Boni Khalwale is not goading the Jubilee leadership and sounding like just any other rabble-rouser, he can come up with very creative ideas.

This is what happened earlier in the week when he tore into the spendthrift tendencies of County governments and legislative assemblies, suggesting how this mania can best be checked and the culprits punished.

Dr Khalwale was concerned that counties were wasting money meant for development on useless baubles and junkets.

Members of these governments, he said, were fond of travelling in and outside the country, for which they claimed huge travel and subsistence allowances, and they did not submit documents to internal auditors to support those allowances.

The Senator, who has a reputation for taking an aggressive bull by the horns once in a while, has a neat solution to this: Recover the money from these fellows, and also strengthen the Public Audit Act to ensure the supporting documents are handed over to the Auditor-General.

In the same week, we learnt from the top honcho himself, Auditor-General Edward Ouko, that Nakuru County alone spent Sh40.5 million on a single trip to the United States, as well as its MCAs being paid millions more for attending meetings and bonding sessions within the county.

The solution? The money must be recovered. But who will do the job? The National Treasury?

The police? Some angel from above? Our experience is that in Kenya, money once “eaten” is rarely ever recovered.

Remember Goldenberg? Anglo Leasing? People do not steal so they can refund what they stole.

VERY HYPOCRITICAL

The second question must then be, is anyone else as tired as I am about the narrative about corruption which never seems to go away?

The issue has become ennui-inducing.

Since we all seem determined to become a nation of crooks, chiselers and embezzlers, why don’t we just collectively throw up our hands and stop wasting time on “non-issues”?

It is my considered opinion that we are going nowhere with our holier-than-thou protestations about thievery in high places when sordid economic crimes have become a culture in this country.

Let us face it; how much money is stolen in, or wasted by, government ministries every month, for instance?

It is absolutely hypocritical to single out Anne Waiguru’s ministry for censure when sleaze and profligacy permeate almost every ministry, parastatal, or constitutional organ.

When, for instance, is the last time a commissioner with one of those bodies flew economy to Mombasa or Kisumu?

When is the last time that a Cabinet Secretary flew abroad on official duty with just the number of advisers necessary?

Few of us are clean, and so we might as well admit that the war against corruption is already lost and consider starting afresh.

All this “noise” by a few journalists and civil society activists will never make a difference. Our goose is already cooked.

PAYBACK

I laughed uproariously when I read that Knut Secretary-General Wilson Sossion wants out of the giant teachers’ union because fellow leaders in the union went to meet President Uhuru Kenyatta and were convinced to drop litigation as a way of solving its dispute over wages with the TSC.

If it is true that Mr Sossion was by-passed during the negotiations at State House, then he should not be surprised.

A few months ago, during the lengthy teachers’ strike, he was behaving as though he was the President’s equal, chest-thumping and uttering all kinds of dire threats against the government.

Now it is payback time and he ought not to complain.

Whether he goes home or not, the fiery Sossion should realise that in these days of high unemployment, militant unionism can only take him so far.

He should learn something about how to wield soft power from Cotu Secretary-General Francis Atwoli.

How does he suppose Mr Atwoli has lasted so long at the helm of the umbrella union?

He has done it by being accommodating when necessary, uncompromising sometimes, and keeping in good personal terms with successive government leaders of the past two decades.

Mr Sossion has lost out and lost big. If in doubt, he should ask the teachers who finally got their September salaries.

SOURCE: DAILY NATION