Monday, August 01, 2016

Only children can afford carelessness

First, there was John Harun Mwau. It was the sugar barons that got him. Then there was Aaron Ringera. He said the wrong thing to John Githongo at the wrong time, in the wrong place and in the wrong tone and his ass was grass and Anglo-Leasing was the lawnmower. He managed a whole term, though. Then came PLO Lumumba. It was a family foundation that came riding in on the Citi Hoppa that ran him over. Mumo Matemu fought all manner of wars in the courts to get the job. They still shoved his ass out the door without so much as a "Thank you, kindly." Philip Kinisu is the latest deer in the headlights. The words "conflict of interest" will mean so much more when they are done with him.

If that woman had not become a Cabinet Secretary and if she hadn't fired that man (never mind all that happy talk of "transfers"), no one would have paid any mind when that organisation got an extra twenty five billion shillings from Uncle Exchequer. (On a much, much lighter note. The guy that got fired must thank the Good Lord every single morning that he was not the one left holding the bag when it all went tits up.) They really stared paying attention when that other woman who had never, ever handled sums larger than the four million she got to buy hair salon equipment, was suddenly supplying all manner of things to that organisation, eventually racking up an invoice of seven hundred million shillings. Give or take a billion.

The Banking Fraud boys of the Directorate if Criminal Investigations made a lot of noise, none f which amounted to a "Eureka! We caught the digitally-savvy crooks!" Internal auditors, both at that woman's ministry and that organisation, were no use either. When the anti-corruption boys finished their preliminary investigations, they declared the minister to be whiter than the driven snow. Then the wheels fell off the wagon and now there are hard men and women answering equally hard questions in Courtroom No. 1 at the Milimani Law Courts. (You'd better ask a friend what Courtroom No. 1 is all about in terms of prosecutions because it certainly isn't child support.)

By the time Philip Kinisu was getting his name in the Kenya Gazette on Christmas Eve, 2015, a lot of blood had been washed off the streets and bodies were already putrefying in Nairobi's unseasonably hot December heat. He came to the Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission with solid credentials. He avoided Mwau's focussed publicity-obsessed crusading zeal. He refused to take an arrogant, verbose stand about whom he'd go after. He definitely did not come across as the litigious combatant that Mumo Matemu was. He kept Lumumban verbal bellicosity out of his wheelhouse. He just forgot three key words": conflict of interest. For that he may yet have a shorter career than PLO but not as short as Boss's seven months and change.

His first mistake was to deny knowing anything about Esaki's dealings with the NYS. His second mistake was to defend his wife's connections - and, by extension, his own connections - with Esaki. Third and most egregious was to declare with finality, "I will not resign." Don't these people ever learn? They all said they would never resign unless proven guilty. Not Mwau, not PLO, not Matemu, not anyone of them has been convicted of as much as squinting in the wrong style. If Mr Kinisu is awaiting a conviction before being shoved off the hot seat, well, let's just say a guitar-playing goat is more likely to be found.

At this point no one cares whether Mr Kinisu is guilty or not (and that is a terrible flaw in our body politic) but what all can agree on is that when you declare "I will not resign," you are basically daring your enemies to get rid of you, the law be damned. No matter how many friends Mr Kinisu thought he had, they became his enemies the day he became the anticorruption czar. They won't be rushing to his aid any time soon. Some of them are looking forward to applying for his old job (once it becomes his old job), see? It doesn't matter whether Esaki's dealings with NYS were entirely above board, he and his wife should have cut all ties with all companies doing business with the Government. That is a mightily unfair rule, but if he wanted half a chance, he should have swallowed the bitter aftertaste and severed all links with Esaki.

But now it is too late. They will find out everything bad that Esaki has ever done. They will pile these bad things on Mr Kinisu's broad back until he squeals. Then they'll bury him underneath it all. He shouldn't expect mercy until he resigns. Only then will they take a step back. Not a moment sooner. Never, ever say, "I will not resign" not unless you love being the matador's muleta, used to goad the seeing-red-mad bull. And now that his colleagues have shoved him in front of the speeding Nyayo Bus, his chances of victory have effectively been halved. If he survives, Mr Kinisu will have learnt the only lesson that matters for men in his position: only children can afford to be careless.

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