(As London Terminates the Mother of all Procurement Graft Probes, the al-Yamamah Investigation, Githongo Bleats on About Kenya…)
JUST WHEN HE THOUGHT he had the total attention of the British Establishment concerning his pet project of waging a one-man war on Made-in-Kenya Corruption (and the Kibaki Administration over a barrel on the eve of a General Election year), the selfsame Anglo Saxon elite suffers a double-whammy blow of its own — total exposure of the latest Made-in-Britain Corruption.
Consider the following events of recent months and weeks culminating in the interrogation by police of Prime Minister Tony Blair in a corruption investigation, the so-called peerages-for-cash scandal, and the termination on the same day that Blair was grilled of an investigation into a Saudi bribery scheme in a UK£10 billion arms procurement deal after the Saudis threatened to procure from the French instead if the graft probe was not stopped in 10 days flat. Some 50,000 British jobs in the defence manufacturing sector would have been lost had the order gone to France.
Everyone, except Githongo, Edward Clay, and other pure-hypocrite proponents of the Nanny State, knows that arms procurement is a thoroughly tainted business, anywhere on earth at any point in history. But now how will the Anglo Saxons, with their KSh1.4 trillion thoroughly corrupt Saudi deal, be able to talk about the KSh7 billion (UK£150 million) Anglo Leasing deals with a straight face? Spot the loose change, Sir Edward! Enough to make you puke, eh?
Githongo’s memo to President Mwai Kibaki of November 22, 2005, headed “Cover letter accompanying report on my findings of graft in the Government of Kenya”, opened with the following lying words: “It has been my desire to send the attached summary report to you but I thought it wise to wait until the conclusion of the referendum-related campaigning period. The reason for this was that my report be not construed to be part of a politically-motivated action in favour or in opposition to any political formation in the Kenyan context. Indeed I concluded this dossier in September 2005 after four and half months of steady work and chose to wait until the conclusion of the referendum process to forward it for your attention.”
The hypocrisy is staggering. What the British public that Githongo was playing to did not know was that he delivered his “graft in the Government of Kenya” dossier on the very same day that President Kibaki learned that he had been defeated by a plurality of a million-plus in the key National Referendum on the then Proposed New Constitution. Githongo was actually hitting his own President when the man was down and pretending for all the world that his timing had nothing to do with “any political formation in the Kenyan context”. The truth of the matter is that Githongo was waiting to see how the referendum vote went.
This is the same split-personality mindset that sees no contradiction, no conflict of interest, in his own father’s borrowing money from wealthy Asian operatives in the Kenyan context with no intention of ever repaying it and with sonny promptly shouting “graft!” and “corruption!” from every available British rooftop when it came time for daddy to pay up. But the fact remains: Money was loaned, Sh30 million of it. Years and years ago. And it is not being repaid. Explaining his reasons for going public with the Anglo Leasing dossier, Githongo, now at St Antony's College, Oxford, told the Guardian newspaper’s Michela Wrong: “I have a personal problem of conscience. The knowledge that the stealing is still going on, while I sit quietly doing nothing, has been burning me up. I want to get this monkey off my back.”
Whatever perceptions or indices of graft one chooses to apply in the case of the Sh30 million loan to his dad and the timing of the release of the Githongo dossier, this is fundamentally corrupt — and fraudulent. It is one monkey that Githongo is not getting off his back any time soon. But does he feel the slightest twinge of conscience about it? Don’t hold your breath.
Let’s turn now to the British context and how some of its players impact on Githongo’s beloved Kenyan context. Nowadays, no member of the Blairite wing of the British Establishment comes to Kenya without spewing holier-than-thou, sickeningly sanctimonious advice concerning corruption. And nine times out of 10, they are reading from the Gospel according to Githongo. They will have been referred by a friend of a friend to the Kenyan runaway former anti-graft tsar before their visit to Kenya, they will have exchanged a number of emails, perhaps even met and talked. And then they land in Nairobi and roll out the anti-corruption spiel.
Perhaps the most egregious (to use a word much used by Githongo himself) of these political tourists is the invidious Peter Henry (Baron) Goldsmith, Attorney General of England and Wales. Lord Goldsmith visited the CLEAR and the Philemon Trust Halfway House, Nairobi, on Tuesday 21 November 2006. He was in this country to attend the conference on Justice Sector Reform in sub-Sahara Africa and toured the facility, holding a meeting with the directors.
That Tuesday Goldsmith launched a blistering attack on the Government of Kenya over its fight against corruption, saying that the Kibaki Administration had never requested Britain to freeze bank accounts and assets of individuals suspected of having looted billions of shillings of taxpayers' money.
Thinking Kenyans who are unaware of the fact will be interested to know that Lord Goldsmith had much on his mind when he swept into and out of Kenya. They will also perhaps be surprised to hear that His Lordship is up to his ears in the peerages-for-cash corruption scandal plus the Saudi arms procurement deal that make Goldenberg, Anglo Leasing and Charterhouse look like proverbial picnics.
To put it bluntly, Peter Henry Goldsmith had neither locus standi nor a shred of moral authority to sound off on accusations of corruption against the Kibaki Administration when he paid his flying visit to Kenya. He had logs embedded in both eyes when he shot off his mouth about the comparative mote in Kenya’s eye. Lord Goldsmith is but the latest of that bunch of British (and, or Britain-based) smear-merchants who have taken to blabbering about corruption as if it had been invented in Kenya, taking their cue from John Githongo.
The cash-for-peerages scandal is a scam in which a number of top businessmen who also happen to be major contributors to the ruling Labour Party’s and the one-time ruling Conservative Party’s coffers, including oiling their election campaigns, have been placed on the Queen’s Honours Lists and been ennobled (made barons or lords or other orders of the aristocracy) in breach of the Honours (Prevention of Abuses) Act.
The scandal is in fact so severe that it confronts outgoing Prime Minister Blair with the worst nightmare of his career as it threatens to bring him down in flames, destroying his legacy even as he exits No 10 Downing Street. The entire Cabinet, Blair’s closest staff and now the PM himself have been questioned by a Scotland Yard detective whom the British media has quickly turned into a national hero.
The Economist newsmagazine of London, for which Githongo has corresponded for years, including during his stint at State House, Nairobi, as anti-graft tsar, and which seems incapable nowadays of writing about Kenya without liberally using the epithets “sickening” and “corruption”, including in headlines, observed in November under the headline “A sad, bad business”, that a “toxic miasma” hangs over the Prime Minister’s last months in office.
What is Lord Goldsmith’s role in all this? Firstly, he, too, was ennobled by Blair. Secondly, his role in both scams has been such as to disqualify him completely from lecturing Kenyans — or anyone else for that matter — on the subjects of graft, conflicts of interest and the rule of law. Lord Goldsmith, among other things, supervises the Director of the Serious Fraud Office (SFO). It was the SFO that was investigating Saudi bribery of senior officials of BAE Systems, Britain’s biggest arms procurement firm, in the UK’s biggest arms overseas deal ever, the Al Yamamah arms deal, which since 1986 has earned more than £40 billion for the company and its partners.
This major anti-graft investigation has now been stopped in its tracks, with the entire British Establishment succumbing to Saudi pressure and the threat to 50,000 British jobs.
The SFO was investigating bribery in the arms deal under the 2001 Anti-terrorism, Crime and Security Act. The Saudi Royal Family caught SFO detectives trying to access its secret Swiss accounts and flew into a rage, giving the British just 10 days to stop the graft probe or the deal for procurement of war jets would go to France. French President Jacques Chirac had already offered to supply Riyadh with French jets.
The termination of the SFO investigation was brought about under the label of matters touching on “national security”, with the AG is being portrayed as having been bypassed by his political overlords. Had this happened in Nairobi under the Kibaki Administration, the high-ranking British busybodies who now routinely lecture this country on graft, reading from John Githongo’s script, would be foaming at the mouth in a frenzy of finger-pointing and hypocritical hectoring.
Will the British climb-down over the Saudi arms deal register on the radar of this year’s Transparency International perception indices on graft? The runaway Kenyan’s Blairite friends have been exposed for what they really are: The most hypocritical, double-faced corruption merchants.
Will John Githongo ever comment intelligently and proportionately on what has transpired in the matter of the al-Yamamah arms deal and the stopping of the SFO corruption investigation? He wouldn’t dare. That would amount to vomiting on the shoes of those who have given him refuge in Britain. Ironies, like wonders, never cease. But the mind of John Githongo registers neither a sense of humour nor irony…
In fact, the closest Githongo has ever come to criticizing a key Western institution on corruption was a convoluted remark on the nature of career progression at the World Bank:
"Let's face it, promotion at the World Bank comes from spending money. If you're in the field, and too many complaints about corruption interrupt the spending, it has an impact on your career trajectory.''
Today, Githongo is a special adviser to soon-to-retire-in-disgrace World Bank boss Paul Wolfowitz.