Corruption killed them by Boniface Mwangi

There is an African saying that if you educate a child, you have educated a whole village. The rationale is that the educated child will impact everyone’s life once they graduate. We live in a continent where good education can be your ticket out of poverty. However, yesterday over 200 families lost their sons and daughters in a preventable massacre in Garissa University. Entrenched corruption in the security system allows Al-Shabaab to move freely in and out of Kenya and carry out such attacks with ease.

The Kenya police is the most corrupt institution in Kenya but there is not a single police officer in jail for corruption. We have seen many police officers being vetted and they are unable to explain the source of the millions in their accounts but not a single one has been charged for illegally acquired wealth.

Police recruitment is rife with corruption. Just last year, the high court issued an injunction against the recruitment of 10,000 officers over irregularities and corruption during the recruitment process. The selection process is flawed, favouring brawn to brains as thousands of unemployed graduates languish. The working conditions are terrible and the primary motivation for many recruits joining the police force is the bribery paradise they work in. The fact that it took the police over 10 hours to contain four gunmen calls into question their standards of training as well.

The Anglo-leasing scandal was meant to modernise security surveillance systems for the police force. The money was eaten and nothing was delivered. The president fired the interior minister and the inspector general after the Mandera massacre. His replacements were not based on merit but tribal and political calculation. Police Inspector General Joseph Kipchirchir Boinet got the job largely because of his tribe, not merit. There were many more qualified than him within the police.

In the wake of the massacre, the president’s knee jerk reaction was to defy a court order and demand the rehiring of the 10,000 recruits whose hiring was stopped last year by the High Court for gross irregularities. It is the latest in a line of reactionary measures in the wake of terrorist actions. In June 2014 Al-Shabaab terrorists killed more than 60 people in Lamu County. President Kenyatta suspended all provincial administrators and security agents and accused them of abdicating their duties promising that some of them will be charged in court for negligence. No one has been charged to date. Meanwhile parliamentarians allocated themselves Sh700 million to enhance the security of MPs and Senators as Kenyans continue suffering from insecurity. Every Member of Parliament has an armed bodyguard every waking moment.

A confidential report by the U.N. accused Kenyan soldiers in the AMISOM peacekeeping force in Somalia of facilitating illegal charcoal exports from the port city of Kismayu, a business that generates millions of dollars a year for Al-Shabaab. During the Westgate attack, Kenyan soldiers looted almost every shop in the mall and then blew it up. No one is in jail for that. An investigative story by the Standard on Sunday revealed that illegal immigrants, some of whom have acquired Kenyan ID cards, smuggle more than 15,000 bags of sugar worth more than Sh72 million daily through the porous border with Somalia. The culprits also sneak illegal arms and ammunitions into the country.

In terms of response as well, Kenya seems to have learned nothing from Westgate. The police response was underwhelming and though Garissa has experienced several Al-Shabaab attacks, there was no standby Rapid Response Unit. Kenya police have one functioning helicopter and the rest aren’t working because someone bought expired spare parts. And painfully, we still have no evidence to prove the four Westgate attackers were killed.

The president has to choose what kind of legacy he will have. Are we going to wear Uhuru T-shirts proudly or shall we have his face on our tissue papers? His legacy will be determined by his actions in the coming days.

On Tuesday,4pm, we shall hold a vigil for the Garissa victims at Uhuru Park, Freedom corner.