Opinion / Commentaries
Monday, 15 May 2017 09:34 EATakipchumba@kenyafreepress.com
The stormy waters of corruption in the Ministry of Health seem to be far from calming down as the U.S. government withdraws a swinging Sh2.1 billion designed specifically for the funding of some health programs like nutrition supplements, family planning, maternal and child health, HIV/Aids, diseases outbreaks, surveillances and trainings. When the US provided the money, little did they know that some politically connected, top-ranking government officials were subtly scheming to siphon the monies, by means of corruption.
In Kenya, fighting corruption that is now inherently endemic and system has proven to be some sort of a Sisyphean task. Various political regimes have endeavored to “wrestle it down” to no avail. In fact, corruption has oftentimes been made an election campaign issue. Which patently demonstrates why every politician in our tribally-charged political playing field is racking his brain with a view to come up with populist kind of narratives aimed at wooing voters into his “political base.”
Even the current Jubilee regime promised Kenyans in the last campaign trail that it would set up “foolproof mechanisms” to slay the dragon that is corruption, only to gradually and technically pay lip service to the anti-graft war.
When the civil society criticized the ruling coalition over its laxity and glaringly indifferent attitude on the graft war, the high-spirited Jubilee propaganda machine and hired spin doctors coined the terrible tag “Evil Society” with the clear intention of maligning and vilifying the foreign-funded civil society organizations. This, I am certain, was the government’s desperate attempt to run away from responsibility and accountability.
In what could aptly be described as rescuing Jubilee’s drowning political relevance, President Uhuru Kenyatta started to vent his unjustified anger towards the civil society organizations with the thinly-veiled goal of gagging the vocal and vociferous members of the organization. The Jubilee foot-soldiers and attack dogs have no kind words for the “dare-devil” members of the civil society whose primary “offence” was to hold the powers-that-be accountable and upsetting the status quo.
Well, let’s focus on why the Trump administration resorted to cutting its aid towards our health sector. It is actually within the realms of truthfulness to say that the transfer of Dr Nicholas Muraguri to another docket despite having been adversely mentioned in the notorious multibillion Afya House scandal is what enraged Washington.
Dr Muraguri, who threatened The Business Daily’s journalist who unearthed the scandal, is alleged to have been one of the key brains behind the infamous Afya House scandal that left the Jubilee government with a rotten egg on the face. The president ordered an “investigation” into the scandal. Just for formality, as usual. We waited with bated breath to see the culprits brought to book and the stolen money returned, but all went up in thick smoke.
I suppose the Kenya’s foreign development partners like the U.S., Japan, Britain and so forth were keenly following and confirming the status of the investigations. When it dawned on them that the investigation was manifestly one of the sickly jokes, the U.S. government decided to withdraw its financial assistance on the grounds of massive corruption, feeble accounting procedures and blatant dearth of accountability.
Maybe other punitive measures are on the way. This move has put the government to the defensive, with the CS Dr Cleopa Mailu dismissively saying Sh2 billion is quite insignificant amount, compared to the annual Sh65 billion budget of the ministry.
The government is a bit treading where angels dread. Some degree of seriousness is needed, away from the usual political brouhaha! Whoever diverted the amount for whatever reason must be held accountable regardless of his political connectivity, financial status and/or social status.
The concept of shielding thieves should be dead and buried. We’re all equal before the law. Nobody, under our new constitutional dispensation, is above the law. Unless the unresolved influence peddling scandal is properly addressed without sideshows, its nightmarish phantoms will forever haunt us. Our country will suffer devastating economic consequences too.
When corruption reaches a certain toxic limit, it will undoubtedly rock the economic growth of a country to its foundation and pollute the political environment, thus set the ground for potential violence. Jubilee must, in actuality, make a hay while the sun shines.
Kipchumba is a staff writer/columnist at the Kenya Free Press