FIRST DRAFT UNEDITED
Onyango Oloo Strolls Ahead of the Moral Fulminations of Clay, Bellamy et al
KDP Recontextualizes the Anglo Leasing Corruption Scandal in Nairobi
Montreal, Sunday, July 18, 2004
0.0. Before EVERYTHING ELSE:
A Happy 86 to you Comrade Madiba!
1.0. A Bizarre Linguistic Riff in Lieu of a Prelude
You are like a fish captured triumphanty by a wily mvuvi having a bonanza afternoon two miles into the Indian Ocean not too far from Mombasa.
You are hooked.
There you are, dear reader, trapped at the bottom of my dhow, writhing helplessly as you wait for your wet scaly fishy cousins to join you from the surrounding deep aqua marine.
You are intrigued by this essay already.
Because you do not know what the hell I am talking about.
And I just love it.
Gotcha dear reader!
Kenyans have a very different relationship with the Kiswahili language compared to our eloquent neighbours to the south.
In our country, the pampered and thoroughly brainwashed Kenyan petit-bourgeoisie considers it a rite of passage to underscore their erudition in clipped faux Oxbridge English and simultaneously, trumpet their open contempt and undisguised derision of the tongue we all call our national one.
Often the worst language vandals, the most notorious grammar and syntax challenged culprits, the worst linguistic criminals assaulting Kiswahili are my fellow ethnic kinsfolk- the often boisterous Luo of western Kenya.
Jokingly referred to as the “Black Englishmen of Kenya” (I call them, behind their backs,” theYorubas of East Africa”) “educated” and “sophisticated” Luos are often a very sorry sight to behold when you contemplate how clueless we sometimes are when it comes to expressing ourselves in Kiswahili.
The same mouth which will quote effortlessly and trippingly from quickly uploaded random access organic human memory seventeen straight medieval English stanzas from John Milton’s “Paradise Lost” will be hard pressed to utter the following simple and completely straight forward Kiswahili sentence without stumbling, stuttering sputtering and desperately splattering all over it:
“Shangazi Salma Binti Salimu mjukuu wa Salum yu salama salmini ijapokuwa amestaajabishwa na kushikwa na bumbwazi akishangaa na kushangilia, akimwangalia shemeji Shemegi Sharifu Seid Sayyid bin Shahibu akiyumba yumba,mlevi wa kupindukia, akizagaa zagaa kama punguani hayawani aliengiliwa na pepo ama kutemewa mate na majini akianguka na kuamka pale pale mtaa wa Mbowe ilioko huko huko ndani ndani mtaani Mikoroshini Msasani kwa mamwinyi karibu na jumba kubwa, nyumbani kwa hayati marehemu Mwalimu papa hapa jijini Dar es Salaam nchini Tanzania, Afrika Mashariki.”
“Auntie Salma Binti Salimu the grand daughter of Salum is alive and well, even though she is completely speechless and thunder struck as she gazes with rapt fascination, at her brother in law Shemegi Sharifu Seid Sayyid bin Shahibu who totters, stumbles and staggers along, totally plastered, zig zagging like a shameless half-wit possessed by demons, over there along Mbowe Road right in the middle of Mikoroshini Msasani near the palatial mansion and former home of the late President Nyerere in that leafy, posh, exclusive upper-middle class residential suburb of Dar es Salaam city, Tanzania, East Africa.”
Now, one of my Luo relatives would probably render the above Kiswahili sentence something like this:
“Sangasi Shalama Ndito ya Shalimu mujukuu wa Shalum anakwisa shalimia shalamana…”
Click Here to Listen to a Light Hearted Taarab Flavoured Response to an Online Diss Attack on Oloo
Dear readers you know WHAT:
Let me do this: I think it would be a good idea if I paused RIGHT HERE because I can spy, from a far, an enraged and seething Luo mob, frothing through their missing six lower teeth, cursing me furiously in Dholuo, armed with freshly sharpened pand nyaluo, brand new pangas, polished nyatieng’ rocks and firmly held rungus made in Kisumu Siti with impatience brimming and overflowing straight from Nyalgunga making a bee line for my one and only neck as they shriek:
“Onyango Oloo ijaneko? Onyango Oloo, ijachien? Onyango Oloo wiyi rach? Onyango Oloo, no iri? Onyango Oloo, wapenji, nene piny ogumo ni kose? Onyango Oloo, kawuono to watieki! Lam Nyasaye Were Nyakalaga ka pok wachopo kendo donjo edala maduong’ miluong’o ni Montreal kama wabiro monjie! Ja Gem wuod Kagola, Iraura! Irasihingwa! Chabla ka Baranget! Orundo rundo agulu ki twang’! Kawuono to idonjo e pier mong’am!!”
Dear beloved readers:
I do not even feel safe in translating those blood curdling DEATH THREATS – readers, let me flee for DEAR LIFE and let us meet in the next section!!!
2.0. What is Gagula, Utapeli, Ulanguzi and Mitumbaism?
I finally managed to shake them off.
Note to self:
Ask Auntie Alice if we have any Kale blood in the Oloo family, so swift was my deportment with dignified comportment from that almost certain internment.
In case you are wondering, this essay is going to take an IN DEPTH look at the Anglo Leasing corruption scandal set in the wider context of neo-colonial dependency and the abuse of the primitive state patronage system that provides a very fertile breeding ground for the kleptocratic mushrooms sprouting all over Kenya under Kibaki’s hobbled regime.
The terms “gagula” “matapeli” and “ulanguzi” despite their Tanzanian origins, are very, very germane to the Kenyan context- facetious comments in the previous section notwithstanding.
One fascinating document you should stand by for is a very detailed insider’s look at the Anglo Leasing scandal that has been camouflaged to protect some of the individuals who took some risks to set up a sting operation that blew the lid off this sordid affair in the first place.
We are going to develop the argument that the ongoing moral, political, diplomatic and financial crisis engulfing the Kibaki-NAK regime has EVERYTHING to do with the fact that Kenyans DO NOT HAVE A DEMOCRATIC CONSTITUTION that can help put in place a viable template for transparency and good governance.
But let us begin at the beginning.
What is a “gagula”?
Not too long ago, over at the Mashada forum I was trying to explain to some of my younger, more urbanized and perhaps more overseas born and raised fellow Kenyans about the phenomenon of “Jajuok, the Night Runner”:
“…some of you remind me of my grandmother. when i was a little kid there was this night runner who used to harass us. now those of you who are not from western kenya or certain mijikenda communities at the coast, a night runner is what we call a "jajuok". this is a strange nocturnal acrobat who prefers to do his aerobics in the nude while basically scaring the living lights especially out of kids or single women who are still sleeping at home by kicking doors, stoning roofs and doing very strange stuff while having a lamp perched on their naked derriere and often doing a little fire eating routine. there was this watchman my grandma always suspected. one day in order to out him, she first said very loudly at the dudi market(about two kilometres from my rural luanda doho gichagi):"ONE of you here is busy bewitching my grand-children. You better watch out. If I ever catch you..." the next day, the watchman who used to guard the school property next to our home came to our home DURING THE DAY and said: "Doris Awiti, you keep calling me a jajuok, and I resent that. I am a decent man with grandchildren." And my grandmother replied innocently: "Now (name withheld, who knows if his grandkids are mashadites incognito continuing their family tradition) when did I call YOU a jajuok?" (Onyango Oloo, from an exchange at www.mashada.com)
Well, “gagula” is essentially the Tanzanian equivalent of the same strange creature. Check out this news story from the tabloid “Kasheshe" one of the most lurid exponents of that country’s ever sensationalist, superstition ridden “alternative press”:
Use Your Discretion in Assessing this Kasheshe Story
Now, mind you, there is NO RULING OUT that the paper staged a publicity stunt to perpetuate an ages old community superstition.
What is important is get the correlation between the “gagula” of Songea, Tanzania and the”jajuok” of western Kenya.
From there when we start unraveling the characters behind Anglo Leasing, we shall baptize them as the “gagulas” of NARC.
Yes, we are more concerned at the end of the day with the political and economic “gagulas”.
So who are the “matapeli” and what is “ulanguzi”?
Again, let us be educated by a Kiswahili link- this one from Deutscheland:
The story talks of various scams using the internet, fax, SMS and so forth. A “mtapeli” is basically a conman(OR conwoman).
Another (English language) Tanzanian paper gives us the popular and musical origins of the “matapeli”:
The Origins of Utapeli
An online Swahili English dictionary hosted at Yale university :
Check Out The Kamusi Project
informs us that “ulanguzi” has to do with the so called “black market”(is there a “white market).
A Tanzanian Islamic site defines “ulanguzi” thus:
“Hili ni neno pana linalotumiwa kwa maana mbali mbali; lakini katika kipengele hiki tutalitumia neno hili kuwakilisha kitendo cha kuteka nyara bidhaa muhimu sokoni kwa kuinunua kwa wingi labda kwabei ya juu kidogo kwa madhumuni ya kuilundika (kuihodhi) na kuifanya iwe adimu ili hapo baadaye itakapokosekana sokoni iuzwe kwa bei ya juu sana na kutoa faida kubwa sana. …”
Roughly translated the above passage says” ulanguzi’ is a word which has many meanings but in the particular context the authors are referring to the act of hoarding basic commodities, creating an artificial shortage only to later unleash the same at astronomical inflationary prices.
By the way, if you want to catch up with Bongo (Dar es Salaam) slang as opposed to Nairobi’s Sheng, visit this link:
Bonyeza Hapa Kaka
Dear readers I am not being cute, nor have I just suddenly been overcome with a suffocating nostalgia for Dar es Salaam(where I last was in November 1988).
On the contrary, my seemingly irrelevant tangential linguistic anecdotes have EVERTHING to do with Anglo- Leasing, Edward Clay and Francis Muthaura, not to forget Spin Doctor Albert Mutua.
Let me explain.
As a Kenyan Marxist-Leninist I usually proceed from the assumption that there is more to phenomena than mere quirks, spurts and outbursts of individuals or sensationalists tidbits leaked to this or that section of the media. Everything not only has a history and economics to go with it, but also a sociology which accompanies it.
I am therefore trying an alternative approach to the Anglo Leasing scandal, by moving away from the names- don’t worry, WE ARE NOT SWEEPING THAT UNDER THE RAG LIKE MUTHAURA- and delving more into the circumstances that nurture the Goldenbergs and the Anglo Leasing and we do not know what else.
My central argument shall be that the neocolonial political economy of Kenya in an era of even more ruthless globalizing tendencies is producing in Kenya what is already an established social reality in Russia for example- the economy is controlled by organized criminal gangs who are represented in parliament and government. Incidentally, as we shall also see, America too, is also controlled by organized criminal gangs who have the official representatives sleeping in the White House.
But I am galloping far ahead of my own story.
Let us rewind to those Tanzanian anecdotes.
We see that Utapeli- which is what would be closest to what the Anglo Leasing hoodlums are about IS AN ENTRENCHED SOCIAL PHENOMENON in Tanzania.
Some personal reveries may be in order at this point.
I was a political exile in Tanzania between October 1987 and November 1988. As I have detailed in my iconoclastic debunking of Nyerere:
“I traveled to Dar es Salaam by bus from Moshi and eventually found myself officially claiming asylum at the UNHCR offices in the Upanga middle class neighbourhood.
I was luckier than most Kenyan refugees in Tanzania because one of my first cousins has lived in Tanzania for over thirty years after being married to a Dar es Salaam based engineer.So I was staying with them. And that is when I saw with my own eyes what the Tanzanians call “hali halisi” the concrete situation. Life was very hard. Many Tanzanians that I interacted with when I lived in Dar es Salaam during that period wished they were Kenyans. To their mind Kenya was the country where everything was available- consumer goods, jobs, a good education, business opportunities- and lower inflation. At least that is what was in their minds. As a Kenyan, I found this depiction of life in Kenya more than slightly comical. But there were certain undeniable facts: The allowance doled out to refugees every two weeks over at the Christian Council of Tanzania offices was MORE than what many middle class senior civil servants were earning in AN ENTIRE MONTH. One hundred Kenyan shillings could be exchanged for eight hundred Tanzanian ones. Life was so tough, that my cousin who lived in a comfortable middle class suburb of Dar es Salaam (in the Mikoroshini/Msasani area near the Peninsula Hotel, not too far from Oyster Bay, just behind Mbowe Road for people who know the former Tanzanian capital) she had to travel to Kenya every month to bring back mitumba to supplement the family income. I was to later learn that Nyerere also lived in Msasani, but in the more exclusive, reclusive section a little beyond the expatriate enclaves populated by NGO types from Holland, Canada, Guyana, India, Zambia, Kenya and elsewhere. The state run Usafiri Dar es Salaam public transit system was in a state of near collapse. When I first went over to the famed campus I was shocked at the dilapidation. One indication of the hard times: most Tanzanian working class families had ONE MAIN MEAL per day, and it often had to wait until 3 pm when the parent(s) had come from work. And it was usually “wali na ubwabwa”(rice and beans). I had noticed, as I was traveling by bus to Dar all the way from Moshi, school age kids as young as six years old selling eggs, peanuts, bananas and other petty wares as late as three or four o’clock in the morning- on a week day! Some, not all, ordinary Tanzanians resented all refugees because we were seen to be living in the lap of luxury (even though the majority of the Kenyans lived in very run down “guest houses” in places like Mwananyamala, Kinondoni, Manzese, Mwenge and Kariakor- hardly the equivalent of the Kenyan Muthaigas and Milimanis). What I am trying to say is that the Dar es Salaam that I lived in between 1987 and 1988 was still going through the throes of the IMF induced austerity measures. In fact I was told that THINGS HAD IMPROVED-that life was terrible in the early 1980s right up to the time that Nyerere stepped down from the Presidency…”
These were the social, economic and political conditions which produced the “matapeli” and “walanguzi” chronicled by sharp commentators like the late Chiriku Maneti of Vijana Jazz (I used to go over on Sundays to watch him play somewhere in Mikoroshini).You are looking at a neocolonial economy on the brink of virtual collapse- a state where you not only have a lumpen proletariat but a lumpenized petit-bourgeoisie, a lumpenized comprador bourgeoisies and even at the very top, a lumpenized Presidency. I am serious. In the late 1990s there was a buzz in the Tanzanian Diaspora here in Canada about reports that suggested that Mrs. Mwinyi, the then First Lady herself, WAS PERSONALLY involved in gemstone smuggling whenever she traveled abroad. Was there any truth in the matter? Given the well-known kleptocracies of Mobutu, Mugabe, Moi, Bokassa and so on, I would not rule it out. Was it not the other that we were reading in the KENYAN PRESS how some young people related to the Kenyan head of state were trying to pass themselves off as the official Kenyan business representatives in Libya….
Kamlesh Pattni’s infamous list:
With former President Daniel arap Moi at the top merely serves to illustrate my point. If our own President who happens to be among the top three richest individuals in the country would collaborate with a notorious business crook to defraud state coffers of billions, it is not just a question of moral failing.
In fact one of the side shows we should get away from for a few minutes is the moralistic hand ringing, gnashing of teeth and wailing in sack cloth.
Let us ALL get a GRIP on ourselves and see grand corruption as a NATURAL OUTRGROWTH of our VERY UNNATURAL NEOCOLONIAL ECONOMY.
The Kenyan economy is NOT geared to serving the Kenyan people- it is an appendage of the world capitalist market, but under very unfavorable terms that have only worsened since the colonial era. By its own dynamic, the neocolonial economy of Kenya while capable of reaping billions for the robber barons who misrule us is UTTERLY incapable of guaranteeing Kenyans even the basic necessities of life- Kibaki is BEGGING for food aid; there is massive unemployment; the wananchi live in hovels, shacks and huts; hundreds of Kenyans die from preventable diseases everyday; the infrastructure in the country is screwed- the educational system keeps on churning out graduates who end up as security guards needing an extra kibarua to survive. One can go on and on.
In the meantime, we know how opulently the top twenty Kenyan families live.
The Kenyan elite CAN ONLY MAKE THEIR MEGA RICHES through a political economy built on utapeli, ulanguzi, ufisadi, ugongaji and umalaya wa kisiasa.
Even the foreign aid that is used by the donors to blackmail our leaders, is ironically PART OF THE VERY PROBLEM.
My friend Mwandawiro Mghanga, currently the MP for Wundanyi and the Secretary General of the FORD-People party co-wrote a paper about three years ago where he advanced his hypothesis of ”Mitumbaism” and foreign aid:
“Mtumbaism has a parallel with the phenomena of foreign aid. Like aid, mitumba flows
are from the North to the South, from rich to poor nations and not the other way round. Decades of foreign aid to Kenya have not brought about self-reliance and development.Instead, the country has become poorer and more dependent and indebted. That is why many people in Kenya would subscribe with the views expressed by the likes of Yeebo(1985:30):'What passes off as 'aid' in the third world is nothing but a form of economic control aimed at keeping poor countries on a political leash.
It is only when this form of containment does not hold out the advance of progressive forces, as it happened in Grenada under the New Jewel Movement, that direct and crude forms of intervention are used.'
“When there are calamities such as drought, floods, famine, war, etc., it is normal for those out of the calamities to donate things, including second hand items, to the victims. Such charity is humane and is driven by the desire to reduce suffering, to save life and to help fellow human beings in need. Under these circumstances one should not be ashamed to give or accept such aid, even in the form of used things.
“However, when one becomes perpetually dependent on things used or not needed by
other people, mitumba, under all circumstances then certainly there is something wrong. A government that allows its country, economy and people to be dominated by foreign aid or imported mitumba cannot be relied upon to lead the country towards liberation and development (Yeebo, 1985:30; Babu, 1986:62-63). A global economic system that is geared towards ensuring that underdeveloped countries like Kenya remain beggars forever can neither be just nor sustainable.
“Therefore, those philanthropic individuals and charity organisations both in the North and in the South that participate in the business of perpetually flooding poor countries with imported second hand clothes and other items are, whether consciously or unconsciously, helping global imperialism to harm the economies, cultures and humanity of the poor people of the world. Such ‘aid’ cannot bring about sustainable development. What they need to do instead is to provide moral and material support to progressive forces struggling against both internal and external oppression and for freedom with a social democratic agenda.”
Other scholars have echoed these sentiments:
Interesting Study of the Zanzibar Economy and Foreign Aid
Some, like this former minister writing for the RIGHT WING libertarian think tank the Cato Institute make a compelling, CONSERVATIVE case against unbridled foreign aid infusions:
Click Here for the Article from the Cato Institute
To sum up the thoughts in this section:
Globalization has worsened the crisis of neocolonial states such as Kenya. The end of the Cold War and restructuring of the capitalist project away from the welfare state meant that the West started relying less and less on “foreign aid” as a tool of imperialist control leaving the Mois, Gumos, Nyachaes, Maalim Mohammeds, Hezekiah Oyugis, Mwangales, Biwotts, Rutos and Maithas with few options except to grab public toilets, plunder national forests and engage in mad schemes like Goldenberg.
Jacqueline Klopp has given us an important inkling- at least as far as land grabbing is concerned:
I am always amused when I hear people like Moi, Biwott, Nyachae, Okundi, Njonjo, Pattni, Sajjad and so on being referred to as “capitalists”.
First of all,TRUE CAPITALISTS, by definition can hardly exist ANYWHERE in Africa during this time when globalization threatens the VERY VIABILITY of the state and will certainly NOT countenance a Southern capitalist ATTEMPTING to make it to the level of say, a Michael Dell or a Bill Gates.
One of the few examples of true African entrepreneurial spirit in our local region- the ill fated attempt of Somalia’s al Barakat to weave an international empire of interlocked banking, internet, communication, trading and affiliated firms was abruptly nipped in the bud when none other than George W Bush used the hysteria of the post 911 anti-Muslim fear mongering to shut the al Barakat conglomerate totally down. I wrote about al Barakat almost exactly a year ago to the day:
When I did write about the interests of the Kenyan comprador bourgeoisie earlier this year, I underscored its common class interests. Please go half way into my essay on the CNU and scroll down to the part where I am talking about Kenya’s top twenty richest families:
Click Here to Read Onyang Oloo's "What Are We to Make of the CNU, January 18, 2004
I was therefore listed among the totally UNSHOCKED when Pattni’s list came out.
It must be understood that in a bastardized neocolonial pseudo capitalist economy such as Kenya’s what passes for so called “ free enterprise” and allegedly “business activities” are often little more than state sponsored, politically coordinated organized thefts in which the various crime families are led by a different tribal linchpin or war lord.
It you look at the likes of Moi, Pattni, Biwott, Njenga Karume, Dalmas Otieno, Kamlesh Pattnis as Kenyan Don Corleones, then Goldenberg and Anglo Leasing quickly to make sense, in fact common sense.
Not too long ago, Kenyans watched as Kipng'eno arap Ngeny openly pillaged K PT&C. And by the time it was discovered that a number of heavy hitters were involved in the illegal rerouting of international phone calls, fortunes had been built by the powerful and politically connected.
In one of my earliest stinging attacks on the LDP (“On The Storm in the Kibaki Cabinet Tea Cup”, January 5, 2003), I offered my view as to why Kenyan businessmen venture into politics:
“…The fact that the first public act of the LDP 26 was to gripe about being left out is very telling and should be an early clue at the future road of opportunism and disruption that they are likely to pursue in the coming months. I remember, over three months ago criticizing, not NARC, but its earlier incarnation NAK for the way it was obsessed with dishing out ministerial positions EVEN BEFORE the December elections. I felt then and I feel now that this was the wrong focus for a movement that should have been concentrating on its skills and abilities on routing KANU and putting in place a concrete action plan to govern the country when and if they took over.
“In this sense, therefore, the seeds of the current LDP factional disaffection had been sown back in those days late last year when the DP, the NPK and its other allies were horse trading and jockeying for future positions in a post-Moi Kenya. The fact that DP was the largest party in the NAK outfit all but guaranteed a future mnunguniko and kinyanganyiro (murmurs of discontent, a scramble for power, for the Kiswahili challenged) irrespective of whether or not the LDP ever came into the picture. The other junior partners were bound to feel a little bit left out when DP scooped the bulk of the plum appointments.
“Ideally, in a functioning democracy, these things should not even occur in the first place. In the United States for example many of the appointments are made by President of un-elected technocrats, professionals, business people, and of course, the old stand by- fawning cronies looking for payback for all their past loyalty. In the United Kingdom’s two party see-saw alternating game between the Tories and Labour, the official opposition usually has a shadow cabinet in place throughout its stint in the backbenches and therefore the actual cabinet appointments are often a minor anticlimax as people bite their fingernails to the bone waiting for the first address by the Chancellor of the Exchequer.
“Neo-colonial and post-colonial governments in Africa are a different kettle of fish altogether. Since we really do not have the economic basis to have a full-fledged bourgeoisie in the sense that Canada has a bourgeoisie and Australia has a bourgeoisie and Germany has a bourgeoisie and so on, the rich people in our continent owe their wealth to their access to the organs of state power, because the post-colonial African state, almost everywhere without exception is the source of all the patronage and division of spoils that allow these fat cats to prosper and to seek to become elected politicians so that they can prosper even further.
“In this respect, Kenyan politicians are no different from their other African colleagues. Elections to them are not about trifling distractions like “promoting democracy, good governance, transparency, the rule of law, accountability “and other annoying little things like that. Oh no. Nor is it even about making even the slightest pretence of serving the millions of women and men who braved foul weather to make sure your ass was elected to the august house. Of course not.
“What do elections mean to these politician-businessmen of Kenya?
“Elections to these wafanyibiasharawakisiasa is all about how they can accumulate more wealth if they already have it, or how to get their hands on their first billion if they have been locked out by other fat cats choking at the national trough.
“So, their plan is very simple.
“Do anything, say anything, try anything, sleep with anybody, pay anything as long as you are announced the winner of the contest at the end of the long evening of voting. Mission accomplished? Phew! At least you are in. Now for….
“Camp outside the house of the President-elect promise the hand of your unborn daughter, send flowery congratulations or whatever is needed to impress the king makers enough to include you in the very final short list of the shortest list of five short lists that made it past the seven round of previous shortlists. And then spend hours at your local temple, church, synagogue, Masonic lodge, favourite mgangas, and personal astrologer and palmist praying and hoping that the next occupant of the State House invites you to the first cabinet breakfast meeting at his new digs. You wait, and you wait and you wait. Then you hear that there will be a press conference in 72 hours. They rush you to the ICU or VIP ward at Nairobi Hospital complaining of irregular palpitations of the heart. Your doctor sternly warns you to take it easy or you will croak. After what appears to be an eternity, the Presidential wheelchair appears on a lawn infested with the formidable gadgetry of the local and international media. This guy seems to take his time. Wait. Wait! There! He has fished out the sheaf of paper. Looks like a bunch of lists. Could your name be in one of them? You can only wait and pray. And curse. And pray. And wait, and curse. And almost wet your pants. Finally! The names are being trotted out. You are waiting for the sweetest sound in the entire universe-the sound of your name being uttered. Bingo! Jackpot! Give me five! You have just been named the new minister wa kusanya, kusambaza and kurekebisha mikokoteni nchini, but you do not care! You know nothing about hand carts, how to collect and distribute them, let alone how to repair them! You don’t care because you achieved your main objective: which was to secure a toehold close to the looting and grabbing machine- your nickname for the government that you are apparently just preparing to serve to the best of your ability.
“Send out a memo to all the state connected thieves outside parliament and the cabinet: “It is business as usual folks. Come in with your gunias of VKK (Vitu Kubwa Kubwa). But give me a couple of months as I try to hoodwink the wananchi that I am incorruptible...”
“Let the games begin!!
“Now you can see how, if you had been any one of those politician-businessmen who came out today to whine and complain, it is easy to understand their plight is it not, fellow wananchi? After all those painstaking attempts- the defections from KANU, the lurid campaigning, the giddy post-election parties, the lavish praises on the president elect, after all that, NOTHING.NADA. MKONO MTUPU. What is going to happen to all those optimistic cash flow projections? Are the loan sharks going to send their thugs after you at night? How do you maintain your young mistress in her palatial nyumba ndogo across town? What do you do about that urgent email from your son in York University who is waiting for next semester’s fees? Man, you are staring at imminent financial ruin!
“So of course, you will show up at that LDP conference convened by former KANU top dog JJ Kamotho, even when JJ himself decides, at the last minute to skip the fixture, the date with the ravenous press hounds.
“You can tell, by the foregoing, that my sympathy for the LDP 26 can not be detected even with the most powerful microscope.
“As Kenyans, we must move from this idea of entitlement, patronage, cronyism and siasa za tumbo.
“If I am an elected MP for Gem or Mvita or Khwisero or Nakuru Town (referring to at least four constituencies that I can call “home”), my first priority would be to serve the people who elected me to parliament. That is why I have a lot of tremendous respect for Paul Muite, even as I reserve any public comments on how he and Richard Leakey treated my buddy Mwandawiro Mghanga when Double M was Secretary-General of Safina. My election as MP should not be a ticket of leaping into a cabinet position that I may not even be qualified for!
“I think that one of the drastic reforms (obviously not viable in the course of our life time) that could help sort out this mess would be TO ABOLISH MINISTERIAL SALARIES and replace all ministerial limousines with FIVE OR SIX MINIVANS that the ministers would be required to share on their ride to work- that is, if they did not already own a car or two. I am of course using hyperbole to make a simple point: I look forward to the day when Kenyan ministers will see themselves as no better privileged than the people they serve.
“It is all these perks, these trinkets, these trappings of power that is about to induce massive coronaries in the Oburus, the Kamothos, the Ntimamas, the Kajembes and the Nyiva Mwendwas….”
Click Here to Read the January 5, 2003 Essay by Onyango Oloo on the LDP26
3.0. Unmasking the Gagulas and Unveiling the Matapeli in the Anglo Leasing Ulanguzi
I hope that my readers, freshly armed with 20/20 hindsight can now look back and see that section just ended was not a total waste of their time.
Certainly for me, I could not have embarked on analyzing the Anglo Leasing scandal without context and background.
So now, let us put on our detective thinking caps and do some forensic work ferreting out who are the POLITICAL Gagulas BEHIND these Anglo Leasing walanguzi na matapeli.
This week just ended was dominated by the name of one native of the British Isles:
Here is the speech that launched a hundred coronaries and ten thousand Maalox moments
Read It in FULL Here
A few days after High Commissioner Clay’s speech, another bombshell was unleashed in the form of the following list, allegedly originating from the German embassy was circulated around parliament and brought to the attention of the public by NARC MP Reuben Ndolo:
Apparently this naming of the big corrupt names was supposed to have been done by Clay directly to Kibaki:
Because Transparency International (Kenya Chapter) the Standard, the Nation, the Kenya Times, the Guardian and other public domain outlets have done such an excellent job covering and uncovering the Anglo Leasing scandal, I will just link you to those original stories instead of rehashing it all here:
First, a joint statement from Transparency International(Kenya), the National Council of NGOs, the Institute for Economic Affairs and the Kenyan section of the ICJ:
Next, something from the Transparency International(Kenya) web site:
Click Here To Read Some Articles in the Transparency International site
Here is JUST ONE sample of the many excellent breaking stories from the Standard on Anglo Leasing:
But their Kaunda Street rivals have been on the story right from the beginning:
The Liverpool Daily Post was not to be left out:
Click Here for the Liverpool Post story
The Guardian of London dropped its own bombshell:
Which it followed up a couple days ago with this Special Report on Kenya:
Africa Analysis is a London based newsletter(edited by old BBC hand, the Tanzania born Ahmed Rajab)in the same vein as Africa Confidential. Like its more famous predecessor, it sort of relies on insider reports (vaguely reminiscent of intelligence briefings) to give its subscribers exclusive dossier on things happening in and around Africa. I know I simply cannot afford to pay for it, so I could not believe my eyes when I stumbled on a site with all of their issues in PDF format. The last three issues all touch on Anglo Leasing, even if it is surprisingly superficial for people who tout their insider access credentials so much.
Well, while it lasts here are three links you may wanna click on:
Go Ahead and Press the Link; It Will NOT Bite You...
4.0. Tracking the American Gagula of Anglo Leasing
Kenyans, especially those of us who are abroad-have a PASSION for sensationalist gossip. We just cannot wait to sink our teeth into the latest juicy uvumi, vugu vugu na vurumai from Nairobi- even if it later on turns out that we are leaving ourselves prone to acute food poisoning.
Thus we have been obsessed about the identity of the “shareholders” of Anglo Leasing.
Is David Mwiraria the surreptitious capo di capo overseeing a mysterious criminal netherworld from the lairs of Treasury House?
Or is it Don Murungaru who heads the latest shadowy cowboy contractor family?
Did the thirtysomethingearlyfortyish maverick Nairobi wunderkind Jimmy Wanjigi cut one shady deal too many?
Are any of the President’s sons involved directly or indirectly?
How about their overseas buddies and former schoolmates who domicile in certain locales in the eastern United States?
Was Michuki protesting too much when he said he had not spawned a male offspring baptized "Jimmy"?
Why did Muthaura rush to give the NARC government officials a clean bill of health?
Who is on Edward Clay’s secret list that he can only divulge to Mwai Kibaki?
As you can see, all this speculation provide all the major ingredients of a long running political thriller series that could keep Kenyans glued to their TV sets for months to come.
But you know what, it is almost IRRELEVANT, this fascination with the PROMINENT NAMES.
We should PAY MORE ATTENTION TO THE MORE OBSCURE FIGURES. Grab them and help them fine tune their voices and they will be singing out all the proper names.
In all the excitement about the Mwirarias, Wanjigis, Muthauras, Ominos, Mwalikos, Murungarus, Kibakis etc, WE ARE FAILING TO PAY MORE ATTENTION TO THE PERSON AT THE CENTRE OF IT ALL.
And by the way, I am NOT talking about Deepak Kamani.
I am talking about this man:
What is his name?
Who is he?
Here is a brief introduction:
I was fascinated with his previous jobs in the US Department of Agriculture, his stint with the Peace Corps and his interesting placement in Kenya’s own finance ministry. Now I am not going to jump to the conclusion that his background closely resonates with the COVERS for Americans who have worked for the CIA in the past. As you all know, I am no conspiracy theorist. But I am just curious what such a revered Man of God is doing getting mixed up in all these shady deals. But more of that in a moment.
What is this "Brethren Mission” whatever whatever?
Here is what I dug up:
Turns out there are these types of Mennonites:
And they have been to take pretty progressive positions against US government policies:
That is why it is PUZZLING to find someone who belongs to a Christian organization that has such a history of openness, international humanitarianism and even left leaning radical causes could be, not just linked but at the VERY CENTRE OF ALL THIS SLEAZE.
Folks, Dr.Merlyn Kettering is DEFINITELY a GAGULA whose night running gallops WAY BEYOND Anglo-Leasing.
Cases in point:
I am a curious cat with a lot of curious questions.
Some of these questions are quite straight forward:
1. How did Dr Kettering end up working at the Ministry of Finance in Nairobi? Who did he work with most closely?
2. Is he personally acquainted with David Mwiraria? For how long?
3. That communication deal that involved our country’s very sensitive national security intelligence network- did Dr. Kettering pass through the kind of high level security clearances that are for example extensive and mandatory over here in Canada where I live? And has ever had a breakfast meeting with Chris Murungaru?
4. That airport deal. Is the George Muhoho telling Kenyans the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth? Was Michuki in the know?
5. Since the Dynetech fishy background goes back SEVERAL years, how come no one antennae went up when the guy came fronting for Anglo Leasing?
6. Is the man a genuine Christian? He seems to be more immersed in clinching dubious business transactions rather doing anything for the New Sudan Council of Churches.
7. And speaking of Sudan- we have previously revealed that many members of the Kenyan comprador bourgeoisie, including folks like Nicholas Biwott are getting ready to join in the American led exploitation of the natural, human and other resources in southern Sudan. Is this where Dr. Kettering’s real interests lie?
8. Is it possible that the office of the President, the Vice Presidency, the Treasury and the country’s very professional and sophisticated security intelligence services could have missed all this information that Onyango Oloo was able to pick up in half an hour using a very old computer in Quebec? Is it possible that key people in the above offices knew about all this and kept mum, either because they were up to their own gills in the same or did not to risk their jobs or even worse?
9. Did Dr. Kettering’s POLITICAL GODFATHERS have anything to do with the transfer of John Githongo to Kiraitu Murungi’s office. And if the anti-corruption czar was dispatched to the Justice and Constitutional Affairs ministry to be “watched” does THIS MEAN THEREFORE that my former lawyer is himself TAINTED by this Anglo Leasing pungent affair?
10. What does Dr. Kettering know about the TRUTH about the passport scandal? When will he be handcuffed and dragged to a court of law so that we can see his corrupt butt being kicked legally- or has he ALSO BEEN ALLOWED TO SLIP OUT OF THE COUNTRY like Deepak Kamani?
11. That anonymous Anglo Leasing Shareholders List: True or False?
5.0. A Cryptic Email from Nairobi:
If you thought that the previous section was a nail biter, well, perhaps you should excuse yourself right about now and go to the bathroom for a long call ‘cause you ain’t heard nothing yet.
I maintain at least EIGHT different email accounts-I am saying “at least” because I have forgotten the passwords of at least three and some like my original hotmail, I simply killed with deliberate neglect.
On average I receive about two hundred messages day- I would have been receiving three times that amount if I did not opt to read all the messages from the of the five yahoo discussions on the web and it is a good thing that mashada, kenyaniyetu and mambogani have a private messaging system otherwise it would get overwhelming.
Half of the messages I receive are automatically junked through the filtering system I use to weed out spam, 419 scams and persistent pitches from desperate Viagra salespeople who mistakenly assume that all men have problems maintaining an erection.
Sometimes a genuine message is dispatched to the trash can and it is only after you have EMPITIED that folder that you go: wait a minute- did I just delete that invitation from… well never mind, you get the picture.
This is what happened when I was doing some housekeeping with the newkenya account. I have come to recognize the 419 letters- or so I thought- from the subject headings alone.
So when I saw something from ‘Zimbabwe Online” titled “Market Fraud- Based on a True Story” I immediately transferred this message to its digital death row to await its momentary execution by a lethal touch on the delete button. But I am glad that my system first sends messages to the trash folder which you actually have to manually empty.
I decided to take a second cursory look at the “Zimbabwe Online” message.
And that is when my heart stopped beating for about three and a half seconds.
Whoever wrote the email is a very accomplished writer, from the looks of it, very intelligent and with a heavy dose of healthy humour. This individual also appears to be very well connected in certain high flying Kenyan circles.
It is a good thing I am a literature buff, and a fan of Harold Pinter in particular. The celebrated British playwright is renowned for his use of subtext, silences and pauses to explore the deep sea that lies beneath what appears to be a superficial façade of everyday humdrum interactions. As someone who spent his early teen years demolishing one James Hadley Chase potboiler between my Ludlums, Harold Robbins and Sidney Sheldons, I recognized a kindred soul immediately. And of course the student of Francis Imbuga, Wole Soyinka and George Orwell in me was quickly able to replace Zimbabwe for Kenya; Harare for Nairobi and Ian Smith for Jomo Kenyatta.
But I do not want to kill your suspense.
So please read on:
The Message from Zimbabawe Online
Fascinating is it not?
What do you think of the piece?
I think there is MORE to the Anglo Leasing story than meets the eye.
There is a possibility that some of the people who are being fingered as guilty may not be.
6.0. Edward Clay Should Stay the F*ck Out of Our Face!
You know something:
I have been VERY AMBIVALENT about how to assess the comments of Edward Clay, William Bellamy and all those 25 donor countries that are currently twisted Mwai Kibaki’s testicles demanding that he fires fulani, fulani and fulani.
On the one hand, it is nice to know that it is not only the so called disgruntled Luos, Kales, Kambas, Waswahili, Wasomali and others who can see the rot that has set in within the NAK inner circles.
In a sense, the constitutional chickens are merely coming home to roost. If Kibaki had acceded to the will of the people of Kenya he would now have the moral authority to confidently prosecute the Goldenberg crooks and clean up the judiciary and do other things on the reform agenda. Instead.. well, there is no need to repeat the contents of my last three or four essays.
At the same TIME, where does the diplomatic representative of GEORGE BUSH and DICK CHENEY get off LECTURING to Kenyans about corruption?
Let us check out the skeletons in Dubya’s closet.
Can you say Enron?
How about Carlyle Group and Haliburton?
The dossier on all three:
Enron Is In Its Own World of Infamy
More on Enron
Click Here to Get the Skinny on Dick Cheney Shady Outfit
This Documentary on the Mysterious Carlyle Group is a MUST Watch
More on Carlyle
The Canadians should also check themselves before they do their little preacher man number:
The Canaddian Sponsorship Scandal
And as for the British and the others-do not get me started:
And do you wanna talk about Corporate Welfare:
Corporate Welfare 101
The Other Welfare Queens
Clearly, the Americans (especially the Americans) the Canadians (particularly the Martin- Liberal gang in power right now) and Blair’s bureaucrats and diplomats have ZERO CREDIBILITY when they preach to President Kibaki and the NARC government about corruption.
And yes, I do agree with Mwakwere and Ndwiga that Clay and his diplomatic colleagues were way out of line admonishing the Kenyan political leadership in such a contemptuous and degrading manner.
Whatever problems we have as Kenyans, we should be able to trust in our collective intelligence to solve them. Yes, we need to carry out diplomatic campaigns, but it is really KENYANS who should be taking the LEAD in HOLDING OUR GOVERNMENT ACCOUINTABLE, not Mr Clay, Mr Bellamy or Mister of Ms Ambassador Sijui Nani wa Nanio Kutoka Sijui Wapi.
We should NOT FORGET the fact that Britain is an IMPERIALIST power, so is the United States. If anything the roots of the present day ulanguzi, utapeli, ukapa, ugongaji na ufisadi was planted in the colonial era.
This is where patriotic Kenyans should sober up and see what is happening.
7.0. The Anglo-American Imperialists Are Planning a Diplomatic Coup Against Kibaki!
At least that is my opinion.
As critical as I have been of President Kibaki and his NAK gangsters, I think it is time for Kenyans to RALLY BEHIND KIBAKI and the NARC regime against these Diplomatic BULLIES from Washington and Whitehall.
I remember sometime last year when the US Ambassador to Canada had the nerve to publicly criticize Canadian foreign policy against Iraq claiming that Bush felt let down by Chretien. This outburst caused an international incident.
One of the things that Kenyans are fighting for is NATIONAL SOVEREIGNTY. No Kenyan SHOULD BE PROUD that it take some Beberu from London to come and lecture to us how to run our lives. They are diplomats who know that they ARE NOT SUPPOSED TO OVERSTEP THEIR DIPLOMATIC BOUNDS.
Check out this manual meant for Americans entering the diplomatic service:
US Diplomatic Etiquette
and this one from Denmark:
Danish Diplomatic Protocols
My eyes popped when I came across this paragraph:
“There is a hierarchy among Danish ambassadors, from those with the choice posts
such as Bonn, NATO, the United Nations, Washington, or the European Union, to
those with the least important posts in the ministerial hierarchy (such as African countries).The difference between ambassadors is reflected not only in the posts. It is
also manifested when the minister holds the summer meeting, for which all ambassadors return to Denmark. The minister and the permanent under-secretary are seated in the place of honour, and the others are placed around them in a hierarchy that is as natural as the pecking order in a hen-house. Those with the highest position sit closest to the minister. The further from the minister, the lower the position. Should there be a newly appointed ambassador who is not familiar with the rules of the game, who chooses a place that is inappropriate to his position, he will soon become aware of the error or be informed of his blunder…”
I like that Danish candour- there still have a monarch you know so talking of hierarchies so openly is considered very much kosher.
Obviously, AFRICAN COUNTRIES like Kenya as we have been informed in the extract above are way down on the totem pole.
I think this is what inspires the supercilious contempt of an Edward Clay who could say the same things in Cyria but not Paris; in Manila but not in Oslo.
Yash Tandon one of Africa’s most brilliant scientists, was born and raised in Uganda. He currently lives in Zimbabwe. About two or three years ago he spoke out against the attempts by the West to “Morally Recolonize Africa” I think his words are sufficiently important as to quote verbatim in their lengthy entirety:
“Democracy, Governance and Corruption – Moral Recolonization of
Some Conceptual Issues
The oft-repeated line that African states are, in general, undemocratic,
badly governed and corrupt has become an axiomatic truism not only in
Western eyes but also in the eyes of most honest observers of the African
scene within the continent itself. Indeed, there is not even much point in
defending the African state from these unsavory but empirically
There is also, equally, not much point in making the counter argument
that many Western states are also undemocratic (for example, the
outcome of the American elections of 2000 was decided by the court
room and not by the ballot; and most African-Americans feel they are in
effect disenfranchised by the American “democratic” system), badly
governed (for example, the institutions of the European Commission are
so badly governed that in many knowledgeable circles they have become
an object of some ridicule), and corrupt (for example, the manner in
which the media mogul, Berlusconi, has captured corporate and state
power in Italy has raised many serious issues about political corruption in
Europe). This kind of argument – the West points a finger at Africa and
Africa at the West - is neither here nor there. It does not help.
Nonetheless, such comparisons do help to raise the question of whether
the differences between Africa and Western democracies are of kind or of
degree. Is corruption in Africa, for example, of an order different than
that which exists in say Italy or France or the United States? Or are they
merely different in degree, differences in which corruption in Africa
looms large because of other reasons, especially its persistent poverty,
and it gets covered up in America because of its opulence, wealth, power
and sophistication? Do the rich get away with what the poor cannot? Are
there double standards here – one for the rich, one for the poor?
Corruption is, of course, inherently unacceptable, no matter where it
occurs and who indulges in it. One cannot condone it, except, perhaps, for
special reasons and in moderate doses (as, for example, when it becomes
1 This observation may apply to Asia and Latin America too, but this essayist is most familiar with
Africa and will limit himself to Africa only.
a matter of basic survival in difficult circumstances, or, more
controversially, when the state indulges in differential social policies that
favour one group or another, as in Malaysia, for example, in favour of the
Bhumiputras). Corruption also defies definition – is corruption of the
mind or of the spirit any better than corruption that brings material gain?
The highly paid African official who works for the World Bank or the
IMF and who, to defend his salary, promotion prospects and pension
rights, sells Africa a piece of advice that pleases his boss rather than
protect the interest of Africans, is he any less corrupt than an African
Minister of State who sells his country for a tender that adds 10%
commission to his foreign bank account? Are they not both equally, or in
different measures, corrupt and culpable?
The Nordic Model and Historical Irony
But is it relevant to raise these part-philosophical and conceptual issues in
a seminar organised in Finland and in the Nordic context? Societies in
Nordic countries appear to have reached a certain degree of political
honesty, relatively egalitarian distribution of wealth, and a very high
degree of efficient management of national governance. They also happen
to have most empathy for the third world, especially Africa. They are
really concerned about Africa’s poverty, and they do believe (rightly or
wrongly) that these three ills (lack of democracy, corruption and poor
governance) are the real problem that needs to be put up front in any
agenda on taking Africa to a road to self-recovery. They might argue, if
pushed, that Italy, the United States and the European Commission can
“afford” these ills, but Africa cannot; Africa has to live by the highest
standards required by a democratic agenda. Or else there is not going to
be any development in Africa. And they are right, or mostly right.
However, the irony in this uniquely Nordic perspective about Africa
(uniquely because it is not necessarily shared by the more cynical, or
more “realistic”, Anglo-Saxon and non-Nordic Europeans) is that this is
coming at a time when the Nordic model is itself under strain, if not
indeed heading, possibly, towards a crisis. To most observers from
outside, like the present writer, it comes as a surprise that, generally, civil
societies in Nordic countries do not appear to be conscious of this
looming crisis or even curious about it. At least they are not making much
noise about it. The adjustments that are daily made to accommodate to
the dominant Anglo-Saxon model of corporate and political governance
are so subtly incremental, so apparently unobtrusive, that most people
pass these off as indeed the most “natural” consequences of
“globalization.” The Anglo-Saxon aggressive shareholder concept of
corporate governance (where profits rule) is surreptitiously and
increasingly getting woven into the fabric of Nordic corporate
governance through the global process of mergers and acquisitions to the
erosion of their own stakeholder concept (where the social contract
between labour and capital rule). And yet few in these civil societies even
appear to be raising an eyebrow. Can one have any doubts as to the
inevitable end to this road? Nordic civil societies, still mystified by their
own past success at developing a beautifully balanced system of social
harmony and still feathered by extremely rich economies, appear not only
to be integrating into this global system but even advocating to the
Africans that they do the same.
This essayist does not have ready examples at hand from the Nordic
countries, but some examples from continental Europe may help to
illustrate the point. For example, last year the Germans anguished over
the takeover of the telecom company, Mannesmann, by the English
company Vodapohone. This was not simply an ordinary merger and
acquisition; it was a takeover of a German company with a strong ethos
in the stakeholder concept by a British company that put profits before
the interests of the workers or of social peace. In another instance, this
year, the Belgians and the French protested at the manner in which the
British company, Marks and Spencers, closed its stores in Europe and
sacked thousands of employees without so much as “consultation” with
the sacked workers? This does not sit comfortably with Continental ethos
of consultative industrial relations. No wonder, then, that the Belgian
government, which is to take over the chairmanship of the European
Union starting July 2001 is making “social welfare” as its specific
contribution to the manner in which the Union is shaping up. It is not
accidental that the British should have rejected the “social chapter”
provisions of the Maastricht Treaty. It is not part of the British corporate
culture of governance to be inclusive of social concerns. Indeed, if the
Labour Party in Britain had any such past pretensions, the Thatcherite
Blair, in his pursuit for “the third way”, has completely abandoned these
in favour of the American model. Of course, there are differences
between Britain and the USA on many issues (for example, on the issue
of the environment), but, by and large, they share a common history,
culture, language and set of values on the important issue of political and
corporate governance, which is the subject of this essay.
As for the differences between the Anglo-Saxon and Continental and
Nordic principles and practices regarding democracy, corruption and
good governance, these are not just differences in style, or degree, but
also fundamental and deep-rooted differences arising from their history,
culture and the delicate balance of class forces in the Continent.
However, all evidence to date indicates that the hegemonious Anglo-
Saxon practice seems to be having the upper hand in the present epoch of
globalization and cross-border mergers and acquisitions. There are
occasional protests from Continental Europe against these pressures to
conform to the Anglo-Saxon model. But they seem to be accepting their
fate, and resistance in these countries is diminishing. When they falter
and do not conform to the Anglo-Saxon practices, they are admonished
by a whole array of “management gurus” from American academic
establishments and the Bretton Woods institutions who extol the virtues
of “competitive capitalism”. The British periodical, the Economist, the
mouth-piece par excellence of Anglo-Saxon empire, occasionally
admonishes the Europeans relentlessly for sticking to their outdated past
practices. Adjust or be doomed, the Economist says to the Europeans.
We, in Africa, should know and understand the differences in Western
cultures and practices about democracy, corruption and corporate
governance. When the World Bank or the West tell us to practice “zero
tolerance” on corruption, or to institute structures and principles of “good
governance”, which particular brand of concepts and practices must
inform our attempts to adjust to their demands? And, a more important
question, what defenses does Africa have against the onslaught of the
Anglo-Saxon version of democracy and corporate governance when even
Europe and Japan cannot withstand this offensive?
Let us summarize this argument before going further. The agenda that
demands the liberalization of the markets in Africa are only a sub-set of
the demands that the hegemonic Anglo-Saxon model is making of other
countries in the world as well -- Europe (including the Nordic countries),
Japan, Russia, China and, of course, other parts of the “third world”. In
this context it is a strange phenomenon that the Nordic countries join in
the chorus to demand Africa’s adjustment to the hegemonic Anglo-Saxon
model of political and corporate governance when they are themselves
subject to the same pressures.
Some issues arise from this analysis, but they will be discussed later. For
example: are there issues and concerns that the Nordics may want to
share with Africans about the manner in which globalization is taking
place in our own time? There are obvious differences between them, but
do they not have a common obligation to understand what drives the
present debate on global governance, corruption and democracy, and
what its implications are for their respective polities?
The Moral Pretensions behind the Anglo-Saxon Model of Good
The same Economist, that periodically exhorts the Europeans to conform
to the Anglo-Saxon dominant model of corporate governance, last year
described Africa as “the hopeless continent”. Later, in its February 24th
2001 issue, it raised the question “Who will mend Africa?” The journal is
not even conscious of its patronizing tone, or may be it is, and it is a
carryover from its imperial past.When it went further to describe
President Mugabe as “Africa’s own Mussolini”, or President Mbeki’s
views on AIDS as “not just irresponsible but verging on the loony”2 was
it judging these leaders by the “high” English moral and political
standards, or was there another agenda behind these diatribes?
The strange thing is that once the Anglo-Saxon press has condemned an
African leader, the Western press (including the European continental
press) in general falls in line. The chorus is repeated and what starts as a
subtle hint becomes a confirmed “fact”, paradoxically not only in the eyes
of the Western populace generally but, oddly, also in the eyes of Africans
who would like to be (or seen to be) part of the “cultured” and “civilized”
company of the Europeans and the Americans. In diplomatic circles, even
where Africans are present, the descriptions of Mugabe as “mad” and of
Mbeki’s views as “loony” or his refusal to censor Mugabe as
“irresponsible” are not even restrained. The diplomats talk about this as
freely and openly, as when during the British Raj, in civilized company,
they would talk about the natives as being vulgar and uncultured. As the
English proverb goes, before killing give a dog a bad name – or words to
These African or third world leaders may or may not be mad or loonies.
That remains for history to judge. But when they are so judged
contemporaneously by the mouthpieces of the former imperial power,
then any vigilant observer must smell political motives behind such
judgments. Make the name of Mugabe and Mbeki a household aversion,
at least in the Empire, and later if they are disposed of by fair or foul
means, nobody will come forward to shed tears. Oddly, no tears may flow
even in Africa, for African civil societies too would have been prepared,
by massive but very subtle propaganda of, among others, the CNN and
the BBC, to accept the “inevitable”. It must be pointed out, in parenthesis,
(2 Respectively, page 52 and page 12 of the special Survey on South Africa, the Economist, February 21, 2001)that the Anglo-Saxon empire has singularly failed in its application of thisstrategy to Arab leaders. Both Gaddafi and Saddam Hussein have beenlabeled, for the last decade and more, as “mad”, “like Hitler” and many
such epithets of aversion. The Anglo-Saxon Empire has openly declared
its intention to get rid of them. However, it has not succeeded (yet) in
doing so. The Arab populations have rallied behind these leaders, and
even Continental Europe can no longer (they may have at some point)
share the enthusiasm of the Anglo-Saxons to dethrone these Arab leaders.
This is not to say, to repeat, that Mugabe and Mbeki may not be mad or
loony; they may be. But it is one thing for the nationals of Zimbabwe and
South Africa to say so, and quite another thing for the agents of the
Empire to say so. There is a difference between African populations
wanting to get rid of their putative dictators and corrupt leaders and the
Anglo-Saxon Empire wanting to get rid of them. For the first action is
democratic whilst the second is imperial.
There can, of course, be a tactical alliance between the national
democratic forces and the foreign imperial interests. For example, there is
contemporaneously an alliance between some (but by no means all) of the
democratic forces in Zimbabwe with imperial Britain. But such an
alliance between the Empire and the local democrats is normally suspect,
and usually works in the interest of the alleged dictator and to the
detriment of the democratic forces. In the case of Iraq, to take an
example outside Africa, the so-called democratic forces against Saddam
Hussein backed by millions of dollars and state of the art intelligence
paraphernalia from the Empire has made not a dent on the career of
Hussein (spanning over four US Presidents), and even the Kurds now say
that the Western espousal of their cause is not helping them. In the
Democratic Republic of the Congo, in 1964, imperial America got rid of
the nationalist Patrice Lumumba, and then foisted on to the people of the
Congo the military dictatorship of Mobutu Ssese Seko, who brought
down the country to its present condition of semi-anarchy and
hopelessness that the Economist is so quick (although 27 years too late) to
spot. In Uganda, coming nearer home, when imperial Britain joined
forces with certain regionally based democratic forces to get rid of Milton
Obote in 1972, it bequeathed to Uganda a military brute by the name of
Iddi Amin whom the British supported with small arms shipments (twice
a week) for eight years against democratic forces. The latter were driven
underground or in exile. An alliance between the Empire and the national
democratic forces is an alliance between two asymmetrical forces with
more contradictory than complementary interests. In such an alliance the
democratic forces usually lose out. This is the recent experience of what
happens when democratic forces in Africa make a tactical alliance with
the former, or successor, imperial forces.
So What Is behind This Clamour about Corruption and Good
To dismiss the demands for good governance, transparency, zero
tolerance against corruption, the rule of law, the independence of the
judiciary, and all these wonderful values – when put in these very general
terms -- would be both foolish and indeed irresponsible. There is not even
an argument here. It should be made into a law not to argue the merits of
these values when stated in such general terms. Why? Because it detracts
from the more important task of analyzing why certain countries espouse
them at certain time and not at other times.
The real question is what is behind this entire clamour at this point in
time in relation, for example, to Africa when the whole colonial empire
was founded and sustained on horrific and unjust governance, grand
corruption, the rule of force, and the surrender of the judiciary to the will
of the Empire. How come that yesterday’s robbers are now sitting on
today’s judicial bench? How come that the spoilers of virtue of yesterday
have become its paragon today? Speaking before a Nordic audience, used
to polite non-confrontational conversation, these words may appear
“undiplomatic”. But diplomacy has its time and place; so does calling a
spade a spade. Of course, it would be foolish of Africa to dismiss the
virtues of democracy, etc. But it would be even more foolish to assume
that the Empire has changed its colours, more so if it is now draped with
the UN flag, or if its “peacekeepers” come in the NATO flagships, or if
its aid and debt relief measures come with the Bretton Woods
institutions’ conditionalities. The empire is not dead; it has simply
changed its cloak, and now wears a multilateral as against a purely
bilateral shroud. The principal instruments by which the multilateralised
imperial order continues to rule over the former colonial order are the
World Bank, the IMF and the World Trade Organisation (WTO).
Audiences in the Nordic countries may dispute this fact, but then they
were not part of that particular colonial order in Africa, and may be
excused for not knowing how a neo-colonial order is an extant reality.
Besides, at a different, lower, level they too share some of the
responsibilities of contemporary multilateralised empire.3
3 See Y. Tandon, The Moribund Empire and the African Barbarians, Paper presented at a Conference on Globalization, Third World Forum, Dakar, Senegal, April 2001.
This reality of Africa is borne out if we examine the recent history of
Africa, which in a short essay can only be done briefly. Up to 1979, the
World Bank supported an activist role of African states in state-directed
five-year plans. These were not Soviet-initiated Gosplans; they were
World Bank-endorsed plans. A summary verdict is that they all failed. In
1979, African governments met in Lagos, Nigeria, to consider the
deteriorating situation in Africa. Despite two decades of donor assistance,
growth in Africa had more or less stopped, and the social conditions in
most countries worsened. African leaders, in this context, considered that
the only way left to them was to pull themselves out of their predicament
through their own efforts, and that whatever assistance came from outside
in the form of donor funds, must be regarded as secondary to these efforts
at self-reliance. The leaders set the year 2000 for achieving an ‘African
Economic Community so as to ensure the economic, social and cultural
integration of our continent.’ This was the Lagos Plan of Action.
Soon afterwards the World Bank came out with its famous ‘Berg Report’.
It presented an alternative scenario to the Lagos Plan of Action. Africa,
the Berg Report argued, need not despair about aid from outside. More
would come provided African governments were to make the necessary
economic and policy adjustments. They had neglected the agricultural
sector in preference to industries, and this must be rectified. They had
provided excessive subsidies to urban dwellers, those must go. They had
excessively intervened in the economy; they must give more free space to
market forces. They had concentrated far too much on the internal
market; they must go for export-led growth. And so on and so forth. It
was this Berg Report that first laid the basis for what was to follow,
namely, the Structural Adjustment Programmes (SAPs) that have been
the bane of African societies since then. The promised ‘accelerated
development’ of Berg and company never came. In the meantime,
African governments forgot about the Lagos Plan of Action. One by one
they rushed to the World Bank with aid bowls promising to bring about a
structural adjustment of their economies. In return for imposing the will
of the World Bank on an unwilling and long suffering population, they
did get some capital from the donor community, but by the end of 1980s
a new problem arose - the debt burden. In 1980 the debt of the sub-
Saharan countries constituted 21% of the GNP, by 1988 it had risen to
88%. In 1980, debt service ratio in relation to exports of goods and
services was 9%, by 1988, it had risen to 25%.4
4 See UNCTAD, Handbook of International Trade and Development Statistics, 1993.
In 1983-85, Africa was hit by another drought, more severe than the
Sahelian drought of 1968-73. By 1984, twenty African countries had
become candidates for emergency food aid. And so, once again in the
face of crisis, African governments got together and asked the United
Nations to hold a special session of the General Assembly to consider
Africa’s serious situation. At a Special Session in 1986, the UN adopted
the UN Programme of Action for African Economic Recovery and
Development, 1986-90 (UNPAAERD). No earth-shaking document,
UNPAAERD was a mere salve to the bleeding wounds of Africa.
In 1989, the World Bank, with its ‘accelerated growth” scenario in ashes,
came with yet another document - Sub-Saharan Africa: From Crisis to
Sustainable Growth.5 In it, for the first time, the WB introduced the
concept of ‘good governance’, a clear departure from its usual
economistic inclinations. After setting out for Africa what it called ‘A
strategic agenda for the 1990s’, which basically boiled down to measures
of structural adjustments, the document went on to say: “None of these
measures will go far, nor will much external aid be forthcoming, unless
governance in Africa improves. Leaders must become more accountable
to their peoples. Transactions must become more transparent, and funds
must be seen to be properly administered, with audit reports made public
and procurement procedures overhauled.”
That was 1990. Ten years down the line, the situation, if anything, has
worsened. The Empire has increased its grip over Africa by a plethora of
“conditionalities” that they now attach to their money, and these have
disempowered African governments of practically all initiative. All this is
within the dual framework of the Structural Adjustment Programme and
‘good governance’. Under debt “relief” measures (such as the Heavily
Indebted Poor Countries – HIPC), the “qualified” African countries have
been practically recolonized with the Empire micro-managing their
economies, as in the case of Mozambique where the Government was
forced to reduce tariffs on cashew nuts imports from 20% to 14% thus
bringing instant ruin to the local peasant producers as well as processors.
All this is done in the name of “adjustment”.6
5 World Bank, Sub-Saharan Africa: From Crisis to Sustainable Growth, A Long Term Perspective,1989
6 World Bank, Sub-Saharan Africa: From Crisis to Sustainable Growth, A Long Term Perspective,
In 1994, at Marrakech, African governments signed the Uruguay Treaty
that has now replaced GATT. Very few African leaders had read the
document, let alone analysed it, before signing it. In a new thrust of
reasserting imperial hegemony, Uruguay essentially seeks to level out the
playing fields of trade, investment and intellectual property rights in order
to clear the way for petty nationalistic obstacles that appear to be standing
in the way of the Transnationals. Whatever had hitherto checked the
onslaught of the transnational corporations, the TNCs, in Africa are about
to be cleared away, and Africa faces the grim prospect of losing national
control over the little that they had built over the last thirty years since
most of them got political independence.7
The following are the net results of Africa’s now nearly four decades of
experience with the multilateralized empire:
- Africa is under fresh invasion of foreign capital, and all this talk about
“good governance” and corruption is part of the preparatory process.
- The African state has been virtually dismantled and rendered spineless
against foreign intrusions.
- The essence of democracy – namely, a broad consensus on how
competing ideas and paradigms can be openly discussed by the
population – has been systematically undermined in favour of a
single-minded, and seriously flawed, programme of action based on
the so-called Washington Consensus.
- In the meantime, African people have lost even the little independence
they had in respect, for example, of food security, and a modest
control over their environment.
-Africans are now dying in their millions, either through illness (AIDS
and an increased incidence of new strains of malaria), or sheer
deprivation (of food, water and shelter).
- Basic services, including water, are being privatized and put into the
hands of multinational corporations, who run these services for profit
and not for human needs.
- There is now (beginning 1990s) a profound backlash against SAPs
among an increasingly impoverished population. The World Bank and
the donors have therefore changed its name to “Poverty Reduction
Strategic Programme” (PRSP). It is a telling indictment of the Empire
that the goal is no longer eradication of poverty but merely its
“reduction”, an impossible goal in any case, given the manner in
which Africa continues to be grossly exploited by foreign capital.
7 For a critique of Uruguay in relation to Africa, see: Y. Tandon, “Recolonizing the Subject Peoples’”
Alternatives 19 (1994) pp. 173-183.
- As countervailing power against an already weakened African state,
the donors are now propping up the “civil society” and NGOs to
monitor government behaviour and to ensure that governments
conform to the conditionalities imposed by the BWIs, such as good
governance and zero-tolerance to corruption. It is also an impossible
goal. NGOs neither have the capacity nor the mandate to carry out a
function that, in any case, properly belongs to the state.
The Nordic belief that the basic problem of lack of development in Africa
must be laid at the door of absence of democracy, the practice of
corruption and poor governance is rather misplaced and indeed
fundamentally flawed. To be sure, a transparent, democratic and efficient
government are desirable goals in themselves and must be pursued at all
cost. But there are at least three problems with the proposition that links
good governance with development.
One, the link between these two, in the contemporary period, is interfaced
through the expectation that good governance will bring in foreign capital
to Africa, and that foreign capital will then help develop Africa. This is
an untenable assumption. It is an assumption transposed from the
experience of the developed countries to the developing countries. There
is no evidence, even, that foreign capital brings technological transfer to
Africa, which is one of the main reasons for trying to attract capital to
Africa. There is ample evidence to the contrary, namely, that foreign
capital comes only to exploit Africa’s resources (oil in Angola, uranium
in the Congo, for example) whether or not there is good governance or
democracy. That democracy and lack of corruption motivate the
movement of capital is a false premise in any case. Indeed, there is ample
evidence that foreign capital brings in its wake all forms of corruption,
and undermines the efforts of the people, the majority of whom are poor,
to democratize their polities and economies. This is not to say that foreign
capital may not play a useful role in Africa, but what precise role it can
play and under what conditions is another debate.
Two, prescriptions of good governance, etc. are made in the context of
the present movement of history towards “globalization”. Western leaders
deliberately, or may be unknowingly, misrepresent the process of
globalization to Africans. For example, the British Minister of
Development, Clare Short, says: “Globalisation is inherently neither good
nor bad. It is simply an acceleration in the movement of information,
capital, trade and labour.”8 This is like saying, in old times, that
colonialism is “neither good nor bad”. Indeed, colonialism was sold to
Africa in old times as the “white man’s burden”. Nothing has really
changed – in essence, in its fundamentals. Now it is globalization that is
being sold to Africans as colonialism was in the last century. The
prescriptions about corruption, good governance, etc. must be seen in the
context of getting Africa to open up their economies to further
penetration of capital from the West.
Three, focus on good governance, etc. is all very well, but it detracts
attention from a serious analysis of the real causes of poverty in Africa.
The real causes of poverty in Africa are still the same old ones that we
have been talking about for the last forty years. These divide into two
categories. ne is internal and the other external. Externally, this has to do
with the unfair returns to Africa’s exports, whether these are commodities
(oil, tobacco, diamonds, coffee, etc.), or manufactured products (which,
normally, have very little added value); and, secondly, the massive net
outflow of real value (and now, with debt payments, even monetary
values) out of Africa to the developed world. To put the matter on its feet
(because it seems to be standing on its head right now), it is Africa that
“aids” the Empire, not the other way round. Transnational corporations
do not develop Africa; they bleed it of its resources and impoverish
Africa. Internally, this has to do with the fact that most resources within
Africa are not owned or controlled by Africans themselves, and the
situation gets increasingly worse as one moves further south into the
African continent. Thus, for example, in Harare or Johannesburg very
little is owned by Africans themselves. The land, the buildings, the banks,
the insurance companies, the nearby mines and farms, etc. are all owned
by non-Africans. Ironically, insurance companies like the Old Mutual that
own vast amounts of real estate in Harare and Johannesburg have
purchased these estates out of the savings of workers and civil servants,
who have very little to own in these cities. Last year Old Mutual
demutualised itself and transferred its primary listing to London. Capital,
finally, returns to where it belongs. The savings of workers were never
owned by the workers.
How can Africa develop when they do not own their own resources,
indeed not even their own meager savings? This issue of ownership is so
central to the whole debate about development that it would be worth
considering the following experiment, if this is possible. Let a hundred
black Africans companies from South Africa come to Helsinki and own
8 Business Day, Johannesburg, February 12 2001.
all the buildings, banks, insurance companies, major manufacturing
enterprises including Telenokia, and nearby farms and forests. Let the
government be in the hands of the Finns (of course), a government that is
periodically elected to office by a “democratic” system that is acceptable
to the African investors. Let the Finnish population comprise of a
majority (and that means about 95% of them) that is impoverished for
lack of resources and jobs and gradually dying of AIDS and malaria.
Then, ask the government to open up the economy to further African
investment from South Africa to come and own or control the remaining
land, water, forests that may still be in the hands of the Finns, and
generally “develop” the Finnish economy. And then ask the Finnish
government to be honest, transparent, non-corrupt and democratic. If this
is a possible experiment, it would be a good test of the validity of the
above propositions that link good governance with development.
We conclude with two further points. Although this point is not
developed in the body of the paper, it is necessary to say that it is not fair,
not even good economics, to ask Africa to integrate their economies to
the processes of globalization when it is already more integrated into the
global economy than any other continent. In 1990 the ratio of extra
regional trade to GDP was for Africa 45,6% while it was only 12,8% for
Europe, 13,2% for North America, 23,7% for Latin America and 15,2%
for Asia.9 Indeed, it is hypocritical for Europe to advise Africa to further
integrate into the global economy at a time when it is developing a
regional body of its own (the European Union) that is relatively isolated
from the United States. Thus, paradoxically, while the effects of a
possible recession in the United States may hit those economies in Africa,
Asia and Latin America that are most integrated into the globalized
economy, Europe may come out of it relatively protected because it is
relatively isolated from the USA.
Finally, the Nordic countries should try and dissociate themselves from
the processes by which the world is being restructured, slowly but surely,
to make it profitable for the hegemonious Anglo-Saxon capital. The end
of this road is not felicitous either for the peoples of Africa or for the
peoples of Nordic countries. The Nordic countries have striven hard to
create a value-based society that is caring, sensitive, inclusive, and
basically egalitarian. It is founded on a delicate balance of class forces, a
balance that takes into account the interests of the workers and of the
9 Serge Cordelier, La mondialisation au dela des mythes, La Decouverte, Paris 1997, quoted by Samir
Amin, “The Political Economy of Africa in the Global System,” paper presented at the World Social
Summit for Social Development, June 2000.
broader society as well as those who own capital. Slowly but surely, this
is being eroded by an aggressive, acquisitive, exclusive and rather
insensitive “third way” culture that is permeating Europe from across the
English channel and the Atlantic. This barbarization of our civilization
must be resisted. Does this give a basis for a common agenda between
Africa and the Nordic nations? I wonder.
It may sound odd that a person from Africa should give advice to
countries from the North. It is usually the other way round: Africa is
usually the recipient of prescriptions from the North. But a true global
civilization can be built only on the basis of mutuality and reciprocity. It
is therefore hoped that the above suggestions on how Africa and the
Nordic countries may join efforts to create a more civilized and just world
is taken seriously, or at least considered, by those who may agree with the
proposition that wisdom and knowledge may not always percolate from
the North to the South."
8.0. The Way Forward:
We must remember that millions of Kenyans came out to VOTE for this government now matter how corrupt, tribalistic and inept it is.
It is ONLY KENYANS who can remove this government.
Fellow Kenyans we should recognize the REGIME CHANGE agenda of the Western diplomatic gang who are circling the hobbled and besieged NARC regime the way a vulture hovers a soon to be fresh cadaver hanging on to dear life in the middle of the semi-desert.
Kenyans in civil society must be conscious of this often unstated agenda. There is a disturbing trend of NGOs being used by the West to DESTABILIZE supposedly “independent” and “sovereign” governments around the world. We see what is happening to Hugo Chavez in Venezuela and we see what HAPPENED to Edvard Shevdnadze in Georgia:
The NGO Coup in Georgia, Europe
Kenyan social justice activists in the NGO sector must be wary that do not become unwitting tools for regime change by cynical imperialist governments bent on their recolonization madness. Let us remember that USA and the UK defied the world with racist, illegal and violent invasion and occupation of Iraq.
I think it is time to tell Edward Clay;
Thanks, but I think Kenyans will take it from here.
And taking it from here implies among other things:
1. We get to the bottom of the Anglo Leasing agenda.
2. We know which ministers are involved with corruption and sack them from the government
3. We prosecute the Goldenberg crooks
4. We pass the Zero Draft adopted at Bomas because it is the document which provides the legal framework for transparency, will help to establish solid conflict of interest policies and guarantee oversight so that we see less of these shady deals.
5. There are other things that need to be discussed before they grow in full fledged scandals. For instance is IT TRUE that some government ministers are plotting to GIVE AWAY the SECOND NATIONAL TELEPHONE CARRIER FOR A MERE $ 25 MILLION?
6. There was considerable SHADINESS in the way ECONET got that controversial THIRD LICENCE. Who SOLD OUT the KCA affiliated KTIG group? I still DO NOT WANT TO BELIEVE that certain high profile Kenyans whom I personally respect COULD HAVE BEEN SO TAINTED.
7. Under what auspices and with what accesses to high level decision making do the Jimmy Wanjigis and Omino Juniors operate? Where is it written that one set of neocolonial property grabbers(a friend of mine said that the late Omino grabbed a lot of property in Kisumu Town) are inherited by their sons and daughter with equal if nor more ferocious avarice?
There are other points but I will stop here because I want to take a nap- been writing all night and most of today- wake up, take a shower and then in the early evening go to this Montreal nightclub to be present at the historic reunion of Congolese dancemeister Arlus Mabele with the legendary guitar deity, Diblo Dibala tonight in my home town!
Sunday, July 18, 2004
3:53 PM EST
Sunday, July 18, 2004
Expose These Gagulas, Nab the Matapeli: Unearthing The Ulanguzi of the Kibaki Regime
Posted by Kenya Democracy Project at 11:19 PM
Subscribe to: Post Comments (Atom)
Post a Comment