Maina Kiai's Column

Maina Kiai's Column

To Actually Fight Corruption Schemes, Uhuru Must First Identify the Patrons

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If President Uhuru Kenyatta is to make any gains in the war against corruption, he will need to go beyond task forces. He needs to understand the architecture of grand corruption — which is the massive corruption conspiracies designed to rip off tax payers. Yes, petty corruption — which is the bribes that the police, the immigration, the customs and others take — is important to eradicate, but that can only happen if we deal seriously with grand corruption. So here is my two cents for Mr Kenyatta. In a nutshell, grand corruption generally involves at least four players. The…
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To Fight Corruption, Uhuru Has to Deal with Tribalism in Government

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Few things bring out the worst of our tribal feelings as debates around grand corruption. It is predictable: We line up in our tribal gear to either lambast or defend the high level person who stands accused of losing funds on their watch or who can’t account for vast sums of taxpayer funds. The debates around Anne Waiguru are Exhibit 1. Some of the arguments, especially by the middle class who want to appear above tribal sentiments are incredible. We come out with lines like the person is a “pillar” of the regime, and therefore indispensable, as we saw with…
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Propaganda and Misinformation Will Not Make Country Any Better

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Last weekend, a screenshot of a purported series of e-mails was unleashed on social media, purporting to be correspondence between some human rights activists, including me, about the ongoing Assembly of State Parties (of the ICC) meeting at The Hague. The objective was to try and convince gullible Kenyans that there is a conspiracy against Mr William Ruto that civil society has engineered. But the e-mails are fake and contrived. In fact, they are criminal as they impersonate several people, which the police should now be looking into. For instance, the address that they purport to use for me does…
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Why Security Agents Need an Urgent Refresher Course on the Constitution

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After eight months, Muhuri and Haki Africa have finally been vindicated after being illegally placed on a list of so-called “supporters of terrorism.” On Thursday, Justice Emukule ordered the unfreezing of the organisations’ accounts, and nullified the Gazette Notice that started this whole mess. The regime knew from the beginning that the charges were false, but that did not matter. For their goal was to silence the two organisations, and intimidate critical voices in the country. To some extent, it succeeded for in the last eight months, the once vocal organisations have been so inundated and consumed with basic survival…
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Using Illegal Action to Threaten NGOs Will Only Drive Dissent Underground

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At the height of the Moi repression in the 1980s, the favoured tool to silence dissent, criticism and independent thinking was the use of sedition charges. Anything that was critical of the regime and of Daniel Moi was seen as seditious. Whether it was true or not was irrelevant. The charges were calculated to inculcate a culture of silence and fear. But it did not work, instead sending dissent underground. There were other tools used, too, such as detention without trial, charges of “belonging to an unregistered organisation,” and treason. It is interesting that law was used as an instrument…
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Executive Determined to Bring Back the Discredited Imperial Presidency

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It is getting out of hand. Every so often, a new Bill is published seeking to accumulate more powers and discretion in the Executive. There are the proposed amendments to the land laws that would shift powers from the independent National Land Commission to the Cabinet Secretary for Lands; the bills aimed at giving the presidency the power to hire and fire the top police echelon; the provisions to vest the hiring and firing of the members of the Independent Police Oversight Authority in the Executive and away from the Public Service Commission; the effort by “Executive-minded” Senators to restore…
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