Top Stories / National
Friday, 23 Jun 2017 16:47 EATdkiraka@kenyafreepress.com
With the elections barely a month away, politicians fighting for the top seats have gone full throttle wooing Kenyans. Surprisingly even candidates who have been soiled by scandalous pasts are leading in making most of the publicity afforded to them by their checkered past to launch a political career.
Ann Waiguru, of the NYS scandal infamy, who is running for Kirinyaga Governor, was in Kimbimbi and Mathanguata villages, Mwea, where she addressed rallies.
At the rallies, Ms Waiguru, who was the Devolution cabinet secretary before the NYS scam hounded her out of office, paradoxically called out on land grabbers, putting them on notice, promising the residents of Mwea their land back once she assumes office. “Let me assure you that whether the grabbers have developed it or not, we will revoke such illegal transactions.” She promised.
This is ironic considering that Ms Waiguru was at the centre of one of the biggest corruption scandals to rock the Jubilee administration and to a large extent, Kenya, where over Sh1 billion was lost. That she would now be one to preach integrity is an interesting turn of events. People do change, no doubt about that, but first, come clean on all the past misdeeds.
Just last year, Mr James Mugo Ndichu, alias Mugo wa Wairimu, a fake gynecologist who burst into the limelight owing to rape allegations levelled against him in 2015, decided to dip his hands into politics too after being the centre of focus in the Kenyan media for a while. Mr Mugo expressed interest in the Roysambu MP seat and even held press conferences in which he declared that the allegations would not deter him from running for office, calling them ‘challenges I have to face for my fearless and tireless crusade.’
However, the law is clear that those running for political office are required not have any pending court cases nor have integrity issues dogging them. However, Mr Mugo seemed to have taken a lot of lessons from current sittting MPs and President Uhuru Kenyatta and his deputy, William Ruto, who ascended into leadership while the dark cloud of the ICC court cases hang over their heads (their cases have since been dropped due to lack of evidence).
“President Kenyatta and Ruto ascended to office in spite of the grave allegations they were facing. A number of MPs currently have criminal cases but they still retain their seats.” Wairimu pointed out.
It is not surprising that many people who run for political office in Kenya often bank their popularity on, not development-oriented ideologies but on the sympathies of the public, taking full advantage of our blind loyalty to ethnic groups to build a following. A scandal does provide a perfect platform to both gain publicity, then later, sympathy.
It seems in Kenya, having a case in court is no deterrent to one’s political ambitions. In fact, it seems to be seen as a launching pad, with the candidates in question also using Kenyans distrust of the judicial system to their advantage.
It is no doubt that when the rains started beating them, the likes of Ms Ann Waiguru and Mr Mugo wa Wairimu were busy watering their shoots, ready to sprout and flourish forth once the storm had subsided into the collective amnesia of the general public.
While not much can be said of Mr Mugo’s political career as he seems to have disappeared from the public eye (his name does not appear in the list of Roysambu MP aspirants), the likes of Ms Ann Waiguru, who is proving to be popular with the Kirinyaga public and the example of how President Kenyatta and his deputy Ruto used the media attention towards their cases to win public sympathy shows that we can expect more Kenyans embroiled in controversy to use that to launch a political career, or at least, give it a fair shot. After all, as the saying goes, there is no negative publicity.
While some might be quick to point accusing fingers at the media, considering how the media accords these people publicity, one should remember the role of the media – the watchdog, the voice of the oppressed. As such, when an issue is of public concern, the media will be there to report it and it is this part that anyone with a political ambition wedged in the midst of a controversy takes advantage of.
Whether we like it or not, the likes of Mr Mugo and Ms Waiguru will make headlines, as what they do affects the public. What fails us though, is the fact that rarely will such public figures get incarcerated.
Former Lands and Urban Development CS Charity Ngilu used the Karen land grabbing case to gain political mileage, and instead of dealing a major blow to her career, it instead, gave her a new breath of life. After being suspended from the ministry, Mrs Charity Ngilu made her way to the opposition and now is gearing up for the Kitui gubernatorial seat. Many politicians mentioned in corruption and other unsavory dealings use the found attention to either mud-sling their opponents or build sympathy for themselves.
It is not unfounded to say that while our Judicial system is flawed and rarely prosecutes high ranking officials, the fact that many scandalous public servants find their way back to office is down to us as citizens and we need to work on our collective memory and learn to be skeptical. Meanwhile, let’s watch, in humour perhaps, or sadly maybe, as the corrupt promise consequences to other corrupt people for corruption.