Kenya Catholic Bishops on Appointment of Recycled Politicians

By Fr Joachim Omolo Ouko, AJ
Kenya Conference of Catholic Bishops (KCCB) said in their statement that it is unfortunate that the Government of Kenya is appointing recycled players who lack vision to inspire Kenyans for a better future.
The appointment of former Head of Public Service Francis Muthaura to chair the board of Kenya Revenue Authority (KRA) is one of those players that has exposed lack of government’s commitment to give the youth an opportunity. Despite talk of giving the youth a chance, the old guard, some of whom have been in public service for decades, including former Vice President Moody Awuori, seem to be having an upper hand in getting the plum appointments in the public service.

In the recent Cabinet appointments, President Kenyatta also tapped former Kisii Senator Chris Obure, 74, to one of the newly created positions of Chief Administrative Secretary having lost the Kisii governor’s race on Jubilee ticket to James Ongwae (ODM). Dr Obure is the CAS in the Ministry of Transport, Infrastructure, Housing and Urban Development.
At the Mombasa-based Kenya Ports Authority (KPA), Major (RTD) Marsden Madoka, 75, chairs the board of directors. Not long ago, the former Mwatate MP was holding the board chairmanship of both KRA and KPA.  According to Bishops, the trend of recycling the old guard into public service shows that the talk about giving the youth an opportunity is all politics. On corruption, the statement of the bishops was touching on President Uhuru Kenyatta recent times when he came across as being totally determined to eradicate corruption in his second term.
In his first term, he himself acknowledged that corruption existed everywhere and particularly in the Office of the President. But he was reduced to wringing his hands, because moving against corruption then would have occasioned major political fallout that would have jeopardised his re-election. Corruption and corrupt people have become immune to all measures and continue to slide the country into a bottomless abyss of hopelessness, poverty and despair.

Efforts to fight it don’t seem to bear any fruit. And as usual, politics seems to be hijacking the discussions, finding its way into any meaningful attempt to address the evil. To fight corruption, the bishops promised to move from talk to action in a three-point plan including rejecting corrupt practices and teaching faithful to do so; pushing for rejection of bribes by ordinary Kenyans; and signing petitions to fight corruption. “We are caught up in perennial endless political bickering, maneuvers and utterances that slow our country from moving forward in a fresh direction that will bring meaningful development and national integration to the country,” they said.

The bishops also decried the trend of youth committing suicide and engaging murders. They said something has gone wrong in the society and we must face the reality of the desperation setting in.  Our young people are increasingly descending into depression out of frustration in their lives, either from lack of gainful employment or poor guidance from their families, friends and community. They attributed the greed to gambling which is common among the youth. The bishops also termed the clamour by MPs to increase their perks as insensitive to Kenyans who are already overburdened with taxes. They also raised concern over the ballooning national debt saying most of the funds are going into people’s pockets. The bishops said Kenyans have reason to worry, given our culture of corruption that a huge chunk of these loans will end up lining the pockets of corrupt officials who are seeking their own interests.

The culture of corruption is nurtured, facilitated and maintained by those at the top. At the top, therefore, is where the fight should start. Uhuru himself has said in the past that he knows that his stance against corruption will cost him many friends, but that he was willing to pay that price. Will he follow Kagame’s lead and refuse to give into this apparent blackmail? Those of us who rush to support our tribesmen when they are caught stealing, having accepted the cynical and self-serving narrative that “our tribe is being finished,” perhaps do not realise just how grave a danger corruption at its current levels poses to our viability as a nation-state. It costs Kenya upwards of a trillion shillings to service its public debt. Of the trillion or so left, a huge amount goes into maintaining the fabulous lifestyles of our MPs and other state officials. Another huge fraction is stolen, leaving a small amount for development.