Friday, July 4, 2008



Published on July 4, 2008

By Kipkoech Tanui
The Standard

If besieged Finance minister Amos Kimunya is Prince of Impunity, as Parliament was told on Wednesday, who is King?

Every Prince Charming has a father to whom you rush to when he breaks your daughter’s leg, leaving you crying over broken dreams, even as they smile with satiety behind the guarded iron gates where you can’t reach.

I found Kimunya uncharacteristically cool on Wednesday. Even his arrogance, emblazoned on the brickbats he threw at critics — such as ‘fish markets’ and ‘ignorant’ — has mellowed. But his language and demeanour still seemed to suggest the question: "Sasa uta do (So what will you do)?"

After the lies and contradictions, shaming and name-calling, live on television, he is still in office.

If he feared President Kibaki would force him to step aside, he would have taken the initiative himself. Is Kimunya daring someone to dare touch him? Has he got some lets-wait-and-see guarantees?

Could the plot and cast be bigger than we know? Is he his most trusted ‘watchie’ at the Treasury, the den of corruption, the one who can hold back the lid, no matter what?

Or was he plugging holes in Government departments cajoled to finance the re-election? If not, is he a key plank in the movement to enrich a certain club before 2012 hand-over? Just a thought: Could he be the chief fund-raiser for some class, or was the young man just making hay while the sun shone?

Though I would, if I could, hang this cantankerous and lying minister on a lamppost along Kenyatta Avenue, I wonder if he would have managed to operate so arrogantly and with so much success without a higher hidden face?

Are we going to hang Kimunya like we did Mr Chris Murungaru and all the other Anglo Leasing ghosts, the peripheral characters called KYM or kanda ya mooko in Kikuyu (spanner boy), and leave out the conscripting officer?

The man who would likely have some affinity with the mystery character called Judy who Parliament was told to be the kingpin of the Grand Regency saga alongside Kimunya and Central Bank Governor Prof Njuguna Ndung’u?

There is another veneer to this sad episode, straddling across Safaricom initial public offer, the De La Rue smelly money-printing deal and now Grand Regency Hotel, which couldn’t be uprooted or squeezed into the pocket. It revolves around Kimunya’s own contradictions, especially the declaration it was a deal between President Kibaki and Libya’s President Muammar Gaddaffi, too sweet to resist, only to eat his words.

Kimunya is frying in his own fat. He said Libya was given preference because no other country came forward as if it is only nations that buy hotels. Yet his ministry even invites bids for mangled vehicles that have been lying in yards for a decade.

So why not Grand Regency, or was it a grand fountain for grant? We had just yanked it away from the jaws of a thief and should have jealously guarded it! Is this privatisation fad a decoy for mortgaging Kenya to a certain club and Kimunya the dealmaker?

I was in Parliament in June 1999 when Lands minister James Orengo, who blew the whistle on Kimunya, seconded a motion similar to Wednesday’s. On the crosshairs was Internal security minister Prof George Saitoti over Goldenberg (which has mutated into Grand Regency complete with the architect Mr Kamlesh Pattni and another Treasury chief and CBK Governor!)

Piqued by argument Saitoti should not be hanged because he did not act alone, Orengo retorted: "In the rule of natural justice, which even our courts recognises, you do not let one thief go free because you did not catch the others. That is why in law, we say Mr So-and-so before court and others not before court..."

Yes, we must not let Kimunya off because we do not know the rest, and neither should we stop seeking the others. If we do not, like we did with Goldenberg, Artur saga (Did the file ever leave State House?) and Anglo Leasing, the Princes of Impunity will keep multiplying, bleeding the leeches to fatten heifers.

Now I will clap for Kimunya as he said we all should, not for any good, but for fumbling until the trouser fell off. I remind him of the great German scholar Friedrich Nietzsche: "I’m not upset that you lied to me, I’m upset that from now on I can’t believe you."

Kimunya, Ndung’u and Company: Few will trust you, probably just your families and appointing authority. But if you are not someone’s KYM, there is still time to confess you acted on "orders from above". How else could you have been on the rampage without the executive’s reprimanding eye? And just why did Cabinet members Uhuru Kenyatta, Martha Karua and Saitoti just watch as MPs mumunyad (chewed) Kimunya? Amos, please just smell the coffee!

The writer is The Standard’s Managing Editor, Weekend Editions