Sunday, May 18, 2008



By Jerry Okungu
Dar es Salaam, Tanzania

In Kenya you can be a Mungiki sect leader like Pastor Waruinge and preside over the deaths of hundreds of innocent Kenyans, extort cash from poor slum dwellers and matatu touts, however, if you are on the right side of the political class, you can be pardoned, join a pastoral college and graduate as a priest.

If you are moneyed like Kamlesh Pattni, you can raid the nation’s Central Bank, export fake gold, divide the loot with conspirators in the system and reveal all their names with each amount paid out at a public inquiry and still fail to go to prison! In the case of Pattni, you can fake ill health as many times as you can, get admitted in a public hospital with five star facilities, all at the tax payer’s expense. For Paul Pattni again, you freely autograph school children’s exercise books at a public inquiry because you enjoy celebrity status by virtue of being a fraudster.

In Kenya, all the land grabbers of the Kenyatta, Moi and Kibaki eras are millionaires living freely and comfortably with their ill-gotten wealth. The Golden Berg culprits are sitting pretty in the present cabinet. They have joined their later cousins of the Anglo Leasing era without as much as a whimper from the Chief Anti- Corruption czar. This is the meaning of impunity in the Kenyan political system.

For many decades, Tanzanians chided us as an incorrigible corrupt lot that only God would save from burning hell. There is this joke about a Tanzanian shaking the hand of a Kenyan in a meeting but soon after the handshake, must count his fingers to ensure that one of them is not missing!

As early as Nyerere and Kenyatta era, Tanzanians always referred to us as a man-eat-man society. We gained this distinction because of our greedy capitalist ways of Western culture where individualism was the overriding principle. For this reason, Kenyans could, steal, kill or rob to gain wealth.

For all their poverty that made Kenya’s Charles Njonjo describe them as dog-eat –dog society, ordinary Kenyans admired Tanzanians for their humanity and sense of communalism. Their ability to share made many poor Kenyans see Tanzania as a beacon of hope.

What is happening in Tanzania today would make Mwalimu Julius Kabarage Nyerere turn in his grave. He would not believe that less than ten years after his death, the Ndugu nation had not only imbibed every negative trait from Kenyans but were actually striving to overtake Kenyans in the institutionalization of graft.

Just recently, Jakaya Kikwete dropped several of his earlier ministers including the Prime Minister and Central Bank Governor on the grounds that they had been found to have fiddled with public funds. However, as the region hailed Kikwete for the bold step in letting go public officials with itching fingers, something has happened which has stunned Tanzanians.

Like their Kenyan counterparts, the culprits have retreated to their tribal cocoons and turned the tables on Kikwete. As they retreated to their villages, instead of being vilified and shunned by law abiding and upright Tanzanians, they have turned their shame into collective tribal guilt. Now they are claiming that they are targets of marginalization because of where they hail from.

They are claiming with some amount of success like their Kenyan mentors that they and their communities are being finished.

What has baffled many Tanzanians, Kikwete included is that the same bandits have been received and feted in their homes in the same fashion Kenyan ministers get feted when they are appointed to the cabinet! What is alarming is that their homecoming parties are being organized by local CCM party operatives! Looked at politically, it can only signal something; that the CCM national office headed by Kikwete is either facing a rebellion from the grassroots or Kikwete has lost the grip and loyalty of the grassroots.

If this is the case, how will Kikwete face the electorate three years from now when all these jackals form a coalition against him?
As Jakaya Kikwete ponders over this new challenge to his authority, ordinary Tanzanians who are more enlightened are baying for the blood of these looters. They are asking Kikwete to spill some blood. They want to see these people arraigned in courts and charged with stealing public funds.

Will Jakaya Kikwete accomplish the fete that eluded Daniel arap Moi for twenty four years and Mwai Kibaki for the last six years?
Only time will tell.