Sunday, July 1, 2007

Githongo-Mutua versus the World

THERE IS EMERGING EVIDENCE that John Githongo is all set to very severely embarrass a number of Nairobi-based envoys and senior representatives of donor aid agencies in the same manner that he targeted a number of President Mwai Kibaki’s key ministers and aides with his 2005 dossier and the snoop-and-snitch tapes he released to the BBC in 2006.

A number of Western ambassadors, attaches and aid agency mandarins who have spoken in confidence with Githongo, both when he was the State House-based PS for Ethics and Governance and in his loud self-exile in Britain, will soon see their confidential conversations, emails and even SMSs trotted out and paraded as evidence of being easy on (or even complicit in) Kenyan corruption. And, as usual, Githongo has a number of the most high-ranking of these men and women captured off-guard — on tape.

As in the case of the Kiraitu Murungi and other secretly tape-recorded conversations, Githongo’s intention when he set out to have these confidential conversations with the Nairobi-based foreigners was purely entrapment for future expose.

The expose on the envoys could come either as part of the book on corruption that he has been researching at St Antony’s College, Oxford, or as part of a media Special Report to be released first to the BBC and the Economist newsmagazine in yet another cheque-book journalism extravaganza and then to the Nation Media Group, also for cash to ensure exclusivity in this region. Or the media Special Report could precede publication of the book and both would feature the envoys.

Githongo has confided to a number of Britain-based Kenyans and others that he is deeply unhappy with the scepticism of some envoys and senior aid agency directors who appear to have become increasingly uneasy about the zeal and passion with which he and his legal adviser and lover, Professor Makau Mutua of the State University of New York at Buffalo, have gone about tackling the corruption question in Kenya. In late January, Githongo gave the Standard Media Group an interview that he made the senior editors to understand was “exclusive”. However, the interview was in no way exclusive, for Githongo had also spoken to the Nation Media Group’s Sunday Nation on the same subject of the Kenya Anti-Corruption Commission’s absolution of Vice-President Moody Awori, Minister Kiraitu and former Minister Daudi Mwiraria. Githongo told the Sunday Standard:

“Indeed some foreign governments have been very inconvenienced by my continued focus on graft because they feel it stops them dishing out aid money without which they cannot meet their targets and earn promotions. They would rather I shut up about corruption in Kenya, arguing that corruption coexists quite happily with high growth.”

The sceptical envoys and aid donor managers are quite right to resist Githongo-Mutua’s self-appointed crusade against graft in Kenya by pointing out the fact that in places like the South East Asian tiger economies, India, Brazil and Mexico mega multi-billion dollar corruption that makes the KSh50 billion (less than US$1 billion and less than UK£500 million) Anglo Leasing-like deals in Kenya look like loose change coexist with high growth and democracy.

An angry Githongo is now setting out to intimidate these dissenting envoys, talking ominously about their own prospects for promotion and meeting certain aid disbursement targets, a classic blackmail strategy. In the Githongo-Mutua mindset everything in Kenya and the world must come to a standstill until both Kenyans and the donor nations and agencies approximate to the Githongo-Mutua ideal of a corruption-free Utopia.

The envoys and donor agency bosses will soon discover for themselves what it feels like to be “exposed” John Githongo and Makau Mutua style. Either the confidences they shared with Githongo-Mutua will be betrayed by being taken completely out of context, thereby making them appear to be complicit in graft, or their reputations will be sullied in the manner of former Presidential aide Alfred Getonga’s — verbally and by third-person report and with no recourse to self-defence except the courts and years of litigation.

The moral in this sorry scenario is quite simple: Whoever you are, friend or foe, you talk to, email, SMS or otherwise communicate with Githongo-Mutua on sensitive matters at your own risk. The real charade in the Githongo-Mutua crusade against the Kibaki Administration is not so much that the President has refused to act on Githongo’s “revelations” but that these “disclosures” are the product of diseased minds that would do much better preoccupying themselves with something like becoming born-again religionists or Buddhist monks.

When Githongo-Mutua accuse Mr Justice Aaron Ringera and KACC of having failed in their remit because they have not brought a single big-time corruption prosecution since August 2004, a mere two years four-and-a-half months ago, one wonders who on earth they are benchmarking against. This is particularly so when one considers the fact that in Githongo’s own exile bolthole of Britain not a single anti-corruption prosecution has been brought for the eight years that the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) Convention on anti-corruption, specifically bribery of foreign officials by British companies and nationals, has been in force.

Listen to the UK Secretary of State for Development, Hilary Benn:

“In the UK, several cases are under investigation, but we have not yet prosecuted any. Indeed, only a handful of OECD Convention countries have so far brought successful prosecutions, so we all have to do more — where there is the evidence of course. We are not complacent even though Transparency International’s Bribe Payers’ Index (which ranks the likelihood of companies paying or offering bribes in their business activities) places the UK in a strong sixth place on the list of 30 developed and emerging economies. We know that there is still work to do. To enable us better to investigate cases, the UK Department for International Development (DfID) is funding a new International Corruption Group. It will bring together the experience of the Serious Fraud Office and Serious Organised Crime Agency with new capacity in the Metropolitan Police and the City of London Police to strengthen the UK’s capacity to investigate corruption occurring between developed and developing countries.”

Benn was being interviewed in 2006 by Amber Poroznuk for Transparency Watch, an organ that Githongo-Mutua are no doubt intimately familiar with. Benn was responding to a question about what Britain, as a signatory of the Convention, has so far achieved by way of prosecutions. The OECD Convention was ratified in 1999, when Mwai Kibaki was Leader of the Official Opposition in Kenya and three years before he went to State House.

And, as we have seen elsewhere, there has been no shortage of cases to investigate and prosecute in Britain, especially in the UK£50 billion al-Yamamah arms deal between the UK and Saudi Arabia. The British Government only recently halted a Serious Fraud Office (the UK equivalent of KACC) investigation into the final UK£10 billion segment of the al-Yamamah deal, citing reasons of “national security”.

Soon, Githongo and Mutua will find themselves ranged against an entire “corrupt” planet. Perhaps at that point, when they have tape-recorded the whole world and are just about to “expose” it “exclusively” on the BBC, the Nation and the Standard, they will stop and ponder just whose gallery it is that they really think they are playing to.

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