E.A Should Learn From Kikwete
New Vision (Kampala)
14 February 2008
UNCONFIRMED rumour indicates that Paul Kagame is the most
sensitive East African President to issues regarding corruption.
Those in close circles are rumoured to be terrified in his
presence should some mad individual claim that such and such a
public servant is on the take on matters below the table.
The fable goes that if a government minister or public servant is
suspected to be corrupt, Paul Kagame does not have to wait for the
courts to determine the authenticity of such claims. The
individual concerned goes home immediately pending further
investigations. And even if later found innocent, there is no
guarantee that the individual will be reinstated.
Kagame believes that lack of evidence is no proof that some smart
alec never covered his tracks. In other words, if you are
interested in working with him, you had better be like Caesar's
wife- beyond reproach!
Lately, we have been treated to a rare spectacle from our
neighbouring Tanzania. There was some political upheaval of some
sorts. The Prime Minister went to parliament one morning
apparently in some foul mood. His juniors in Parliament had been
fingering him for some time over some Angle Leasing type of deal
with some energy supplying firm in America.
According to his accusers, the power deal that costs Tanzania
$160,000 a month in offshore repayments has not even worked and
that power rationing still goes on unabated. Because of this
persistent fingering, he announced his resignation as the nation's
Prime Minister, a decision that triggered off two more
resignations from the cabinet!
What followed was even least expected. For corruption-related
resignations from three members of Jakaya Kikwete's cabinet, the
President dissolved the entire cabinet! Compare this to the Kenyan
situation four years ago when the then Vice President, Attorney
General, Finance Minister, Justice Minister, Education Minister
and Internal Security Minister were the talk of the international
and local audience for nearly two years!
Instead of resigning, a number of them, including the Vice
President, defiantly stayed put in their offices despite abundant
negative publicity. When Justice, Finance and Education Ministers
finally threw in the towel, it was a technical withdrawal to let
the drums die down.
What Jakaya Kikwete, his Prime Minister and two other ministers
have done is a good thing for the region and the EAC in particular.
It may be symbolic for what it is worth but it is proof enough
that Tanzania has the political leadership that listens to its
citizens and that leadership has the courage to correct the
mistakes that the citizens of Tanzania may be crying loud for. The
reason Kenya is currently undergoing a crisis is because for years
we have nurtured the culture of impunity.
We have rigged elections for years without anybody going to jail
for it. We have looted our own treasury for 18 years without a
single individual going to jail for it. If anything we have
rewarded our looters with even better public jobs and more medals
to go with them!
We have robbed our banks left and right without the masterminds
being taken to court and instead we have gone after whistleblowers
and small fries! The big fish have remained intact.
The political class started it all to be swiftly followed by the
public service cadre. When politicians at the highest level
started condoning and succumbing to graft from crafty and shady
business men, the top civil servants joined the gravy train to
loot and plunder public coffers with abandon.
Several attempts to arrest the situation or even correct it have
been an uphill task. When President Kibaki swore to Kenyans in
2002 that he would deal decisively with the Moi era corruption
scandals, his own administration bore an even uglier scum in the
form of Anglo Leasing.
Now five years later, the demon of Anglo Leasing has refused to
die. It resides in London in the archives of one John Githongo,
the man President Kibaki recruited to deal corruption a deadly
How are Uganda and Burundi faring on the corruption index? Nobody
will never really know until bubble burst as it did in Kenya in
2004 and in Tanzania four years later.
However, for Tanzania, some public demonstration that some
semblance of accountability still remained forced the Prime
Minister and his two co-accused to resign.
This is the way to go and the rest of East Africa had better take
notice of Jakaya Kikwete and Paul Kagame's attitude towards public