scandals in Kenya: can we please have some big names behind bars??

Right now Kenya seems like the most corrupt place on the planet (sort of a hyperbole, but it’s close to that). There is the running scandal of the sale of theĀ  Grand Regency Hotel , there is that involving cheap imported maize, there is the one with the Kenya Tourism Board and then there is the giant one involving Triton and the Kenya Pipeline Company – and of course many smaller ones that never make it to the national news.

I am quite frankly disappointed by the coalition government. These old men running our country seem to have no idea of what it means for people to have trust in their government. There has to be less embarrassing ways to steal from poor people! There has to be smarter ways! That these thieves choose to steal in broad daylight and so shamelessly means that they have nothing but contempt for the average Kenyans. And for that they deserve punishment. Someone needs to be jailed for life – without parole. And they should pay heavy fines too. We must make corruption as expensive to the corrupt as it can get.

The current saga has got me thinking. May be the Kenyan model of mass movement of the 1990s has failed. Kibaki and Raila are both mass movement leaders but they are failing Kenyans almost in the same way that Moi did. May we should try a bourgeois liberation movement. May be if the middle and upper classes get politically active enough our leaders will listen to them. Because as it is it is so easy for Nairobi to dupe the millions of Kenyans who live in the rural areas and the slums in the major cities. Kibera, Mukuru, Kangemi and others prove this fact. But I don’t think that the Kenyan middle class would be so easily duped. The problem is that as a political constituency they lack the numbers and the courage. Many would rather spend their time in the many hypermarkets around town than to agitate for real change. Some might even owe their status to the corrupt ruling class.

As yet Kenya does not have leaders from the middle class – or the upper class for that matter. The little men who parade as gods around the country do not have any affiliations to any given class. It is no wonder that they usually just fight for their selfish interests. They have never been middle or upper class (not in wealth, but in their thinking) and they are in more than a rush to discard their humble roots (invariably by stealing from the public). They do not care much for the middle class, and they keep duping the vast majority of poor Kenyans (by playing on ethnicity). May be we need class conscious movements (nothing Marxist, just classist) to articulate the interests of various classes. May be then we shall have stable political parties that are based on ideas and not fleeting personalities and ethnic alliances.

The most frustrating thing about all this – African politics in general and the Kenyan corruption scandals in particular – is that our leaders seem completely oblivious. In some other place the minister in charge of the KPC would have resigned already. Just a few weeks ago the Belgian government resigned because of a scandal in the financial sector. I am not advocating for a government resignation. I just hope that someone high up there gets to pay for his mistakes. That’s all.

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