State capture: The Kenyan edition

Nakuru, Kenya — A delivery of towels worth 20-million Kenyan shillings (R2.9-million) — to build a dam. A wall that costs R50.5-million a kilometre. A whopping R640 000 paid for just five 70-inch TVs — to compound the crime, only 65-inch screens arrived.

These are just a few of the corruption scandals that have rocked Kenyan politics this year, implicating some of the country’s most senior officials and laying bare the deep divisions between President Uhuru Kenyatta and his ambitious deputy, William Ruto.

It is Ruto’s chief of staff, Ken Osinde, whose name is at the centre of the biggest scandal. Some R3-billion was disbursed to an Italian firm to build two dams in Elgeyo Marakwet county. But the firm spent the money strangely, on items such as towels and tiles, leading to accusations of corruption.

The firm is now bankrupt, and the dams were never built. A hefty chunk of the misspent money — R6.7-million — was paid to Sanlam General Insurance, in which Osinde is a director. He denies any wrongdoing.

Implicated in the same scandal is Henry Rotich, the treasury secretary who allegedly rubber-stamped the dodgy deals.

He is a key ally of Ruto. He also denies any wrongdoing.

The focus on Ruto and Rotich have led to accusations that Kenyatta is selectively using corruption probes to go after his rivals in government. Ruto is famously ambitious and wants to succeed Kenyatta as president when he finishes his second term in office in 2022, but Kenyatta may prefer to install his own hand-picked successor. Kenyatta has firmly denied that he is involved in any score-settling.

Meanwhile, members of Parliament this month demanded an investigation into how a 10km section of wire fencing cost $350-million to build. The fence is supposed to run along all 700km of the Kenya-Somalia border, apparently to deter infiltration by terror groups and to discourage immigration, but construction has been halted.

As the BBC noted: “This is more than double the amount of money the Kenyan government has put aside for its strategic food reserves this year.”

But any investigation into the wall — which must be a contender for the world’s most expensive — may run up against another kind of barrier: this being a military project, the detailed accounts are classified.


Other corruption allegations implicate officials at all levels of government. Some Kenyans have had enough.

“It perturbs to see Kenyans struggling to place a single decent meal on the table, pay their bills and take their children to school, yet we hear of 21-billion shillings not being properly accounted for,” said Catholic Bishop John Obala, as reported by Nairobi News. “If we do not see the culprits of corruption being punished, then we are telling the younger generation that they do not have to work hard to earn a living but only be smart and steal from innocent Kenyans.”

These are unprecedented times, and the role of media to tell and record the story of South Africa as it develops is more important than ever. But it comes at a cost. Advertisers are cancelling campaigns, and our live events have come to an abrupt halt. Our income has been slashed.

The Mail & Guardian is a proud news publisher with roots stretching back 35 years. We’ve survived thanks to the support of our readers, we will need you to help us get through this.

To help us ensure another 35 future years of fiercely independent journalism, please subscribe.

Njeri Kimani
Njeri Kimani is a journalist based in Nakuru, Kenya.
Advertising

Zuma turns on judiciary as trial nears

Former president says pre-trial correspondence is part of another plot

High court declares Dudu Myeni delinquent

Disgraced former SAA chairperson Dudu Myeni has been declared a delinquent director by the...

SANDF inquiry clears soldiers of the death of Collins Khosa

The board of inquiry also found that it was Khosa and his brother-in-law Thabiso Muvhango who caused the altercation with the defence force members

Lockdown relief scheme payouts to employees tops R14-billion

Now employers and employees can apply to the Unemployment Insurance Fund for relief scheme payments
Advertising

Press Releases

Obituary: Mohammed Tikly

His legacy will live on in the vision he shared for a brighter more socially just future, in which racism and discrimination are things of the past

Openview, now powered by two million homes

The future of free-to-air satellite TV is celebrating having two million viewers by giving away two homes worth R2-million

Road to recovery for the tourism sector: The South African perspective

The best-case scenario is that South Africa's tourism sector’s recovery will only begin in earnest towards the end of this year

What Africa can learn from Cuba in combating the Covid-19 pandemic

Africa should abandon the neoliberal path to be able to deal with Covid-19 and other health system challenges likely to emerge in future

Coexisting with Covid-19: Saving lives and the economy in India

A staggered exit from the lockdown accompanied by stepped-up testing to cover every district is necessary for India right now

Covid-19: Eased lockdown and rule of law Webinar

If you are arrested and fined in lockdown, you do get a criminal record if you pay the admission of guilt fine

Covid-19 and Frontline Workers

Who is caring for the healthcare workers? 'Working together is how we are going to get through this. It’s not just a marathon, it’s a relay'.

PPS webinar Part 2: Small business, big risk

The risks that businesses face and how they can be dealt with are something all business owners should be well acquainted with

The best local and international journalism

handpicked and in your inbox every weekday