According to advertisements that appeared in the press at the end of last week you are cordially invited to apply for ‘amnesty’ by the Kenya Anti-Corruption Commission (KACC) if you make a ‘full and true disclosure [within 60 days] of all material facts relating to past corruption and economic crime including all property irregularly or illegally acquired’. All you’ve got to do then is pay back the money and add an interest rate of 12% per annum from the date the money or property was improperly obtained. Just us a minute, just seen a pig fly passed the window…
It was The Standard’s ‘Palaver’ column on Thursday 21 July that got it about right: ‘Even as every four-year old knows, no Kenyan is going to queue outside PLO Lumumba’s office to return tainted cash, land title deeds, log books, or real estate’.
The Star’s editorial on the following day also took issue with KACC’s ‘amnesty’ idea. Under the headline Lumumba, prosecute the ‘big fish’ first, The Star declared that the decision ‘dims any hopes that Kenyans may have that the “big fish” who have for decades plundered the national coffers will finally be made to answer for their crimes’.
The Star continued: ‘We have not seen any prosecution of the many “big fish” responsible for the grabbing of public land, theft of public funds and outright abuse of office’.
Well The Forum pretty much agrees with The Star: catch the ‘big fish’, gut them and grill them we say. But, and there is a ‘but’, will dealing with the ‘big fish’ end the daily encounters with corruption suffered by the mass of our fellow Kenyans?
The Forum would make these, hopefully thought-provoking points: isn’t it the bribe of Sh2,000 to pass a driving test that blights the daily life of a Kenyan? What about the fee that is sought at every police bribery point, sorry, check point? How about the un-receipted fee paid to Nairobi City Council officials to get a friend or loved-one out of a cell? What about the Sh50,000 paid to get selected in to the police force? Or what about the extra fees needed to get a passport, goods through Mombasa port, land registry documents, etc, etc, etc?
On these, and many, many other examples of day-to-day graft that blight the lives of wananchi, PLO Lumumba also stands accused of inaction. He needs to act effectively and soon for some degree of confidence in him to be restored.
Back to The Star. Some months ago the newspaper appointed a ‘distinguished American editor’ Karen Rothmeyer as its ‘Public Editor’ to ‘adjudicate independently on any issues that readers want to raise over the editorial style or content of the Star’. Apparently Ms Rothmeyer ‘will write a regular column for the Star where she will respond to the issues raised after investigating herself and speaking to the individuals concerned’.
Well Ms Rothmeyer and dear readers, The Star is part-owned by the Radio Africa Group that also owns the radio stations Kiss FM and Classic FM. It is reported widely in the advertising agency world that Kenya’s radio stations are daily involved with receiving ‘payola’ and the payment of kickbacks to agencies to put advertising and paid-for promotions their way.
Any reader with information on this point is invited to write to Karen Rothmeyer at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Forum looks forward to Ms Rothmeyer’s article on the subject and we will report what she says. Remember Ms Rothmeyer, ‘Smart People Read The Star’… and they will want answers.