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As we celebrate achievers, we should name and shame the looters

By Mohamed Guleid | October 20th 2021
Workers at Wang'uru Stadium in Mwea which has benefited from a Sh350 million upgrade ahead of 2021 Mashujaa Day celebrations [Timothy Kariuki, Standard]

Today, we are celebrating the 58th Mashujaa Day since we attained our independence. As we celebrate the heroes that brought freedom and honour to the people of Kenya, let us also learn to shame and name those who caused disrepute to our country.

Kenyans are currently going through a difficult period. The Covid-19 pandemic has affected all sectors of the economy and many people are now under duress because they cannot make ends meet. The worst affected are those who earn their livelihoods daily through hawking or performing petty trade.

Kenya’s economy is hinged on this group. The poverty gap in Kenya is wide. The gap between the richest and poorest has reached extreme levels in Kenya. Less than 0.1 per cent of the population (8,300 people) own more wealth than the bottom 99.9 per cent (more than 44 million people). The richest 10 per cent of people in Kenya earned on average 23 times more than the poorest 10 per cent. Unfortunately, the coronavirus pandemic has decided to double-punish those on who the economy of the country is hinged.

The upper strata of the richest only got wealthier. Covid billionaires and people who have amassed wealth during this pandemic have caused death to many Kenyans because people could not access the necessary equipment against the virus after the funds were stolen.

President Uhuru Kenyatta also recently mentioned casually that close to Sh2 billion of public funds was looted in Kenya daily. The office of the Auditor General sadly said approximately one third of the national budget was lost through pilferages. Therefore, the government is aware of these problems, but apparently, it is unable to contain them. I am not sure if this is by design or because of lack of capacity or maybe both. But the government can efficiently deal with people perceived to be a threat to security. I, therefore, do not know what is more dangerous to our security than the looting of money meant for purchasing medicines for the vulnerable or food for those desperate during this biting drought.

Mashujaa Day is for celebrating heroes. Those who fought for our independence need recognition. Many are honored during such an event for their contribution to nation building. However, it is also time for a separate list of people who looted public resources to be read out during Mashujaa Day. The day should be renamed Mashujaa and Mafisadi Day. This will become a deterrent softly. Those named by the president as being graft kingpins to be given different titles depending on the level of corruption. Those to be crowned as kings or queens should be those who crossed the billions shillings mark. Those at the bottom get away with certificates of recognition but with a warning. Unfortunately, those being crowned now for being heroes sometimes buy their way into such a medal. It is logical to assume that because of the level of graft in the system, the culprits are likely to bribe their way out of the list of shame.

The day will lose meaning if the good foundation by our founding fathers is undermined. The Constitution says the sovereign power is in the hands of the ‘people’. The People should rise by demanding their rights but also ensuring the leadership is held to account for any misdeeds. 

-The writer is CEO, Frontier Counties Development Council. guleid@fcdc.or.ke

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