Tuesday, July 8, 2008



By Jerry Okungu
Dar es Salaam, Tanzania
July 8, 2008

Amos Kimunya has resigned without dying! However, his departure has not been like that of former Prime Minister Lowasa of Tanzania or any Tanzanian leader who has been recently disgraced. Tanzanian leaders still possess a little of that conscience that differentiates human beings from other animal species. When a Tanzanian leader is caught with his fingers in a candy-can, he either flees the country to die in exile like the late Central Bank Governor, Daudi Balali or quickly resigns from the cabinet like Prime Minister Edward Lowasa or Finance Minister Zakia Meghji. They don’t wait to be pushed away like Amos Kimunya.

The Kenyan story is unique and the only person I know to have diagnosed this obstinacy among Kenyan leaders is Prof. Aduol of the University of Nairobi.

Aduol has this interesting theory that human beings rarely listen to persuasion to change their positions. They never see the biblical light voluntarily unless they are threatened with fire! According to him, that was the reason the pioneer missionaries to Africa resorted to promising burning hell to non- believers in Christ after preaching heaven for decades without much response from heathens. The moment they heard of eternal hell for non-believers, they trooped to churches in droves!

For Kimunya to have resigned, someone must have put the heat under the feet of Amos Kimunya at Treasury Building to make him take to his heels. All the noises from parliament could not have moved brother Amos. They could not have pricked his conscience.

Amos Kimunya could not have resigned from government just because he was alleged to have stolen. He comes from a generation of Kenyans who have grown up to worship thieves that have over the decades plundered Kenya’s national resources.

He was definitely born about the same time Jomo Kenyatta was about to assume the leadership of this country and at the time Kenyatta died, Amos Kimunya had identified his role models. They were the President’s men who went to the government in rags and left in opulence. These were the men who ran banks and state corporations but either turned them into personal property or plundered them to the bones. They were the president’s men.

This is the generation that is now lauded to own old money. It is the generation that grabbed tracks and tracks of land in the Rift Valley under the guise of land buying companies. It is the generation that the Amos Kimunya group must play catch-up with at this moment in Kenya’s tumultuous political history.

Kimunya must have remembered when Kenyatta went to Bildad Kaggia’s constituency in 1966 and insulted the old man for being poor while his colleagues in government were getting wealthier by the day.

With this memory in mind, Amos Kimunya could not fathom being in the President’s inner circle and leave the scene a pauper! He must surely have been terrified of returning to Kipipiri a poor man. For how would he face his wife, children and constituents who expected him to grab something from the big government office? They would probably think he was an idiot to have come home empty-handed.

The reason Amos Kimunya could not have resigned earlier was due to the nature of our system. In Kenya, the President is more powerful than Parliament and the Judiciary combined. The president appoints the Chief Justice, the Army Chief of Staff, the Governor of the Central Bank, the Head of Intelligence, the Attorney General and the cabinet. This was the reason Amos Kimunya went to State House the day he was mauled in Parliament. He must have been told to stay put until the appointing authority decided his fate. That was the reason the cabinet meeting was postponed without any plausible excuse from State House.

Because of this enormous power vested in the President, Parliament could make all the noise it liked but if the President didn’t act, nothing would have come out of all votes of no confidence passed in that house. It is in Kenya where politicians crave and lobby to be appointed to public offices but once they are there, they convert those positions in to their personal fiefdoms. For how else can anyone claim not resign from office even on pain of death unless he enjoys unforeseen powers from a higher authority?

Now that the higher authority has put the heat on; brother Amos is gone!