Corruption Is the Middle Name of Our Leaders [opinion]

A story is told of a visit by an African Minister for Health to a Latin American country. On being met at the airport by his counterpart, he was invited into a customised private chopper. Curiously, the African minister enquired from his host as they were airborne: “You must be very well paid to afford this beautiful equipment!” The host replied: “No, to the contrary, we are among the worst paid. Do you see that road down there?” When his guest replied in the affirmative, he declared: “From that road, I was able to buy this helicopter.”

The following morning, the Latino minister picked his guest up from the hotel and conducted him on a tour of development projects around the city, ending up with a dinner at the minister’s residence. Awed by the excessive luxury around him, the African minister could not help but ask how his host had acquired such an expensive mansion. “Did you see the hospital we visited this morning?” the host asked to which his guest responded in the affirmative. “From that hospital, I was able to acquire this home.”

Two years later, the Latin-American minister made a return visit. His African host picked him up in a private jet. “A nice vessel you have my brother, how did you acquire it?” the guest asked. The host responded: “Look down on the ground. Do you see that road?” The guest minister looked but there was no road. “No, I can’t see any road,” his guest confirmed and said: “You are right my brother. From that road, I bought this jet.”

The following day, the African minister took his guest to enjoy tourist attractions and African hospitality around the city. They ended up at dinner in a five-star hotel owned by the host. Bewildered, the Latino asked his guest: “How did you manage such a massive investment?” The African minister responded: “Did you see that hospital we visited this morning?’ The guest replied that they had not visited any hospital, to which his host said. “You are right. There was no hospital to visit because from that hospital, I built this hotel.”

The foregoing illustrates the shamelessness of our leaders as on matters graft. Elsewhere, it is a matter of toa kitu kidogo. Here, it is toa kila kitu. In 26 months of Jubilee administration, we have had at least 22 cases of mega scams. I recall only seven cases here. One: the flagship laptop tendering process was rejected by the High Court because it was inflated by Sh1.4 billion from Sh24.6 billion to Sh26 billion.

Two: Standard Gauge Railway project. The exiting Grand Coalition government had processed tenders for the project and awarded CRBC at Sh220 billion. This was varied to Sh334 billion when Jubilee came to power and later to Sh1.3 trillion. The subcontracting for civil works immediately went to a local company, APEC, whose directors remain unknown.

Three: Even before the Jubilee government was fully constituted, the Office of the Deputy President was caught up in an irregular expenditure of Sh100 million where the holder of that office had hired a private jet to travel to four African countries to lobby heads of State to support the President and his principal assistant in dealing with “personal challenges” at the International Criminal Court in Den Haag.

Four: Centum and Gulf Energy were irregularly awarded Lamu Coal Project worth Sh175 billion. This was in spite of the fact that the two firms had been eliminated at the preliminary Request For Proposal (RFP) stage for having absolutely no technical and financial capacity to deliver a project of this nature and magnitude. In terms of cost, they were also the highest bidder. The tender loser had a global experience of generating more than 100,000MW and lowest bidder.

Five: A Sh63.5 billion terminal tendering at JKIA signed in 2013 between the Kenya Airports Authority and Chinese firm Anhui Construction Engineering Group Ltd, was inflated with additional cost of Sh9.5 billion.

Six: A group of 40 Jubilee leaders tried to dispossess a private individual of a piece of 134-acre piece of land estimated to be worth Sh80 billion. The matter is subject of prosecution and therefore not worth further comment.

Seven: As three leading television companies were shut down over analogue-to-digital transmission tussle, it emerged that a secret 6.5 per cent shareholding by Excel Magic in PANG, one of the two foreign companies awarded exclusive content distribution rights, is registered in British Virgin Islands to faceless “Kenyan owners”. The only companies that complied were KBC and K24 (associated with President Kenyatta).

So, don’t get mad at National Youth Service and Devolution Cabinet Secretary Anne Waiguru. Corruption is the middle name of Kenyan leaders. Indeed, this is a looter’s paradise.