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Democracy is great but not in fight against graft.

It is hardly surprising that the much vaunted fight against corruption that President Uhuru Kenyatta has publicly underpinned a large chunk of his legacy on is plodding along like a deflated ball few are willing to place a winning bet on. Neither he nor the legal structures set up to tackle the vice has the disposition, willingness or muscle to deal with it.

The leadership in China and Rwanda teaches us that you are not going to win the war against corruption by merely waving legalese at it, but by actually making those legal instruments work and be seen to be working.A key difference between Rwanda and Kenya is not lack of agencies and laws to deal with corruption.

Like Kenya, Rwanda has many laws covering anti-corruption, whistleblower protection, asset recovery, money laundering and terrorism financing. An office of the Ombudsman of Rwanda (we have one here also) is the co-ordinating organ in the fight against graft, with investigation and prosecution powers and specialised chambers dealing with corruption at Intermediate Court.

COMMITMENTA national-level advisory council against corruption and injustice exists to direct strategies and improve the sharing of information related to corrupt activity.And then there is Paul Kagame, a steely, ruthless operator who does not say things he does not mean, making his word law.

In China, leaders have long recognised corruption as the greatest threat to the Communist Party's legitimacy and sustainability. After taking office as CCP general secretary in 2012, President Xi Jinping institutionalised anti-corruption efforts and strengthened laws to punish and prevent corruption.

So far, the anti-corruption campaign has investigated more than 2.7 million officials, punished more than 1.

5 million and another 58,000 tried on criminal charges. In China, death is an accepted punishment for corruption.

In Kenya, parliamentarians, the Judiciary, the church, law enforcement and other watchdog bodies have been subdued. We are left with lone voices like John Githongo's, which is also threatened by judicial mallets.

GRAFT EVOLUTIONPresident Kenyatta has less than three years to redefine his legacy. His father, the first president of the republic, oversaw the beginnings of corruption President Daniel Moi turned it into an art form and started the process of democratising it, President Mwai Kibaki muted corruption somewhat by really not encouraging it but also not paying too much attention to tackling it.

President Kenyatta's reign, by also superintending the devolution system of government, has truly entrenched it at the top and devolved it right through the government arteries.Now that he has overseen the spread of the malignancy, he is not going to scythe it by declarations like, "even if my brother is corrupt, he should be arrested", "not even my closest political ally can stop the fight", or "we will have a lifestyle audit" and many others.

He is not going anywhere by putting trust on the Directorate of Criminal Investigations, the Directorate of Public Prosecutions or the Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission.LIFESTYLE AUDITThe well-meaning gentlemen that took office in a whirlwind of arrests have suddenly faded from the headlines as reality sinks in that arrests are the easy part, prosecuting successfully quite another.

I agree with senior counsel Ahmednasir Abdullahi that one option that will deliver a sufficiently persuasive message of seriousness and that avoids the slippery legal labyrinth is to vet public servants whose wealth does not match known or reasonable earnings. For instance, if there are indeed 120 politician-owned helicopters plying our skies, let us demand explanations on how the choppers were acquired.

The President should set up a vetting committee with powers to repossess whatever assets cannot be explained, create intermediate courts to prosecute and start biting away at the corrupt, declare an emergency, suspend the legal niceties and stop smiling at the malaise. It is your leadership that has truly buried the country in corruption.

It is you to strike the decisive blow and yes, even if it fells your relative or your closest ally.The writer is the former editor-in-chief of Nation Media Group and is now consulting.

[emailprotected], @tmshindi
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Publication:Daily Nation, Kenya (Nairobi, Kenya)
Geographic Code:6KENY
Date:May 12, 2019
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