DP Ruto must let Rigathi Gachagua face the law, Sh7b is no pocket change
By Milan Kiplagat,
The quest to slay the dragon of corruption in Kenya has for long been politicised by those hell-bent on frustrating and defeating these efforts.
Noticeably, the onslaught against the fight has been spearheaded by a group of leaders who share something in common; most of them have been implicated in earth-shaking scandals that have robbed Kenyans of billions of shillings.
Whenever their ally is arrested to face graft charges, they careen into unhinged rants characterized by rancid tribal undertones aimed at whipping emotions and inciting one community, if not political side, against the other.
Last week, Mathira MP Rigathi Gachagua was picked up by sleuths from his palatial rural home in Nyeri and ferried to the Directorate of Criminal Investigations (DCI) headquarters in Nairobi to record a statement regarding massive shady deals and transactions that saw him acquire more than Sh7.3 billion suspected to be proceeds of crime.
The MP allegedly received over Sh12.5 billion through three accounts in Rafiki Micro Finance Bank. The source of the funds was highly suspicious.
But despite the weighty charges, the dawn raid on the home of the billionaire politician was followed by staged protests, seemingly organized by handlers of the MP who made his billions by “selling sweets and organising discos”.
Rowdy youths barricaded roads, threw stones, lit bonfires and engaged police officers in running battles for over four hours.
Politicians allied to Deputy President William Ruto came out fuming. They made unbridled sentiments directed at the DCI and the Office of the President for allegedly “targeting their members in the fight against graft”.
The usual suspects, among them Elgeyo Marakwet Senator Kipchumba Murkomen, Kapseret MP Oscar Sudi, Nandi Senator Aaron Cheruiyot and Former Agriculture CS Mwangi Kiunjuri, came out guns blazing and condemned the police for arresting Gachagua. Some of them tried to smear President Uhuru Kenyatta.
But the most appalling of all was a tweet from the DP. He consoled Gachagua and claimed the charges against him were trumped-up and politically motivated.
“My bro Gachagua, I know you are strong because we knew these politically instigated trumped-up charges were coming. This persecution on account of our friendship and political beliefs will come to an end. They have connections, networks, pedigree and godfathers but we have God our Father,” he tweeted.
Yet, this is not the first time Ruto is frustrating the president’s quest to tame corruption. When Sirisia MP John Waluke was sentenced to 76 years in prison after being found guilty of robbing the National Cereals and Produce Board (NCPB) to its knees, the Tanga Tanga team claimed their camp was being targeted.
When former governors Mike Sonko (Nairobi) and Ferdinand Waititu (Kiambu) were charged with graft and later ousted from office, Ruto’s team claimed they were being targeted.
When former Treasury CS Henry Rotich was kicked out of the Cabinet and charged with several counts of fictitious deals that saw the country lose billions of shillings in fake projects like Arror and Kimwarer dam scandals, a similar narrative was driven.
This “mtu wetu” mentality being unashamedly propagated by Ruto and his allies is backward, uncalled for and injurious to the country’s economic progress.
It is terribly worrying when such a ridiculous narrative is advanced by a Deputy President who harbours presidential ambitions.
The reason as to why he is doing it is even more disturbing. The DP and his allies from the Rift Valley are pretentiously willing to take the bullet for Gachagua solely because they are banking on him, together with some other politicians from Mount Kenya, to woo the vote-rich region to support Ruto’s presidential bid.
Otherwise, we would have heard them protest the arrest and prosecution of corruption suspects not in their camp, among them ex-Nairobi governor Evans Kidero, Migori’s Okoth Obado and impeached Wajir Governor Mohamed Abdi.
Ruto’s camp is simply playing politics with the lives of overburdened citizens who are being milked dry by graft lords. Kenyans must say ‘No’ to this.
Corruption knows no tribe, class, region, gender or religion. It is what it is and should be treated as such, without the political and tribal undertones that the Tanga Tanga group is advancing.
Theft of public resources amounting to billions of shillings is not a laughing matter. It is a serious economic crime that should be dealt with decisively to save millions of suffering Kenyans from going to bed on empty stomachs courtesy of individuals who have looted their share within a twinkle of an eye.
For your information, KSh12 billion can comfortably be used to run the affairs of Lamu County for four straight years. In the case of the populous Kiambu or Bungoma counties, the money in question can run operations for a full year.
President Kenyatta recently launched 19 out of the 24 hospitals being constructed by the Nairobi Metropolitan Services (NMS) in Nairobi's informal settlements. The cost of each health facility built from scratch was KSh 70 million.
Going by these figures, the money Gachagua is accused of having stashed in his bank accounts over a few months could put up over 171 such clinics across the country. That is the cost of corruption for you.
It is for these reasons that Kenyans must stand up against corruption and call out perpetrators of these vices regardless of their title, colour or political leanings.
The Judiciary must also jail corrupt big fish with the same zeal it condemns ordinary Kenyans to prison. For as the Indians aptly put it: A thief is a thief, whether he steals a diamond or a cucumber.
Mr Kiplagat is a regular commentator on social, economic and political affairs.