We have heard these threats before, and they have not stopped scourge of graft

By: KEN KAMOCHE

It is now patently clear that Kenya is losing the war on corruption. The country is rudderless, sadly lacking in leadership, and has tragically now become a laughing stock.

The global community that showed such remarkable goodwill towards Kenya when it suffered devastating terrorist attacks now sees a benighted nation staggering under the weight of its own folly.

The last time Kenya sank this low was in the darkest days of the 1980s/1990s dictatorship.

GREED AND IMPUNITY

The progress made in the past couple of decades is now being rolled back, the positive narratives drowned by the cacophony of avarice and impunity.

There was a time when people made all sorts of jokes about a sister country in West Africa, a country which has, to its credit, over the years made a serious effort to shed this cloak of ignominy.

Kenya has now stepped into that position, yet many find it easier to bury their heads in the sand than to accept that there is something fundamentally wrong with the country.

Enter the diplomatic community, a motley crew that has a hilarious history of rubbing local bigwigs the wrong way, and with good reason, admittedly because the powers that be are known to tremble in their boots when the former colonial masters bark.

KLEPTOMANIACS

What is the purpose of this latest posturing? The diplomats say corrupt leaders will be denied visas, but there are many destinations in the Middle and Far East that are delighted to welcome kleptomaniacs with open arms.

This logic has played out before: the West imposes sanctions and all manner of conditionalities on aid and trade.

The corrupt are welcomed like returning prodigal sons to banquets in Beijing and Dubai.

Therefore, the unilateral decisions by a coterie of Western diplomats, no matter how well-intentioned, remain largely symbolic, at least for now.

As for the promise to share information on corrupt individuals and help recover stolen money, not so fast! These promises have been made before.

They ring as hollow today as they did in yesteryears unless they are accompanied by genuine action.

TRACKING ILL-GOTTEN WEALTH

In this era of terrorism and money-laundering, Western powers have access to the finest intelligence on global financial transactions.

Now they admit they can “help” recover stolen money.

Why did they stand by and allow it to happen in the first place when they could have queried it, flagged it, challenged it?

If the offer is sincere, if it is to be taken seriously, the diplomats must also explain what they knew about the lengthy history of siphoning funds and ill-gotten wealth to their jurisdictions.

If they were privy to this tradition of plunder, they stand complicit and their offer to help, while welcome, must be taken with a pinch of salt.

Historically, the West has connived in and benefited hugely from the systematic rape of Africa’s financial and natural resources.

This history must now be confronted and challenged once and for all.

TOOTHLESS BULLDOG

Evidently, the current Syrian exodus to Europe has forced Europe to reassess its relationship with traditional African allies.

Targeting despots and the corrupt lends legitimacy to a general raising of entry barriers.

But there must be a genuine effort to stop facilitating the plunder of Africa.

For purposes of protocol, the West understandably opts to work with the Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission, but if you go hunting with a toothless bulldog instead of battle-hardened hounds, you might as well sit by a warm fire with a large whisky.

Ultimately, the buck stops with President Kenyatta.

Yet, for all his fine rhetoric, the President looks increasingly beleaguered and overwhelmed.

He reminds one of Emperor Nero, who allegedly played the fiddle while Rome burned.

In a country where corruption has tragically become institutionalised as a way of life, the President’s failure to crack the whip inadvertently conveys the message that everything is up for grabs. From the plunder of the Treasury to the excesses of rapacious county officials, doping among athletes and cheating in primary school exams, the story is the same.

President Kenyatta cannot do everything, but he must ask himself if he wants this Sodom and Gomorrah to be his legacy.

SOURCE: DAILY NATION