By Naisula Lesuuda
Among the characteristics we value in a friend or partner, loyalty is often the first. Most things can be forgiven if they were driven by loyalty, while there are few insults worse than to be accused of disloyalty. This can be traced back to the teachings in the Bible, and in particular, the interaction between Naomi and her daughter-in-law Ruth.
Following the death of two of her sons, Naomi instructed their widows to return to their families and remarry. However, while loyalty may be a supreme value, we often face the challenge of split loyalties. Whereas one can be devoted to his family, his friends, his country, his job and to God, we are often put in situations where these loyalties collide. While we do not intend to be disloyal, circumstances force us to make a decision between two things that we care deeply about. That is exactly the predicament Uhuru has found himself in over the past few months as he has gone about clamping down on corruption.
One of the main reasons leaders avoid major anti-corruption drives is because they know that inevitably, they will lead to clashes with those close to them, who have taken advantage of their proximity to power. It is much easier, they reason, simply to turn a blind eye. While some have accused Uhuru of doing just that in his first term, since re-election he has been confronting corruption head on.
Having united Kenya’s disparate political factions with one handshake, he has begun a full frontal assault on graft, the likes of which Kenya has never seen before. In what has quickly become a personal crusade, we have seen an unprecedented wave of arrests of big names, including former Nairobi Governor Evans Kidero, Busia County Governor Sospeter Ojaamong, former Kenya Power CEO Ben Chumo, NYS Director General Richard Ndubai and National Land Commission chairman Muhammad Swazuri.
Analysts have lauded the new DPP Noordin Haji’s positive working relationship with DCI Chief George Kinoti as a major asset, especially when one considers relationship between their predecessors that was blamed for the slow pace of dealing with high-profile cases previously. One newspaper carried an article; “MPs should be very afraid”, while another posed the question; “Who is next on DPP list”.
Close friends Over the past weeks, this explosion of action has expanded to cover illegally built structures, with the South End Mall in Lang’ata built on riparian land, the first to be demolished. Up to 4,000 more properties have been marked for demolition in an effort to save the Nairobi River and the environment, and Uhuru has stated that the officers who approved their construction will be arrested and charged.
Inevitably, this has put Uhuru in conflict with some of his friends and colleagues. Reflecting on this issue at a church service in Nairobi on Sunday, he revealed that he had lost close friends over the war on corruption. Many expressed their deep concerns by asking him: “How could you be watching when all the destruction is going on…His response: “I have sat back and said: You know what, I am not able to stop it, because a time has come that we must fight impunity.
Let us lose our friends and do what is right in the eyes of God… No matter how powerful you think you are, no matter how much money you have, it will not save you now.” No matter who you are or how close you are to him, the era of impunity is over. The corrupt will be punished. Uhuru has made it very clear that though, like all of us, he has multiple loyalties, his duty to God and to his country supersedes all others. He is putting Kenya first, and so should we!
Ms Lesuuda, Samburu West Member of Parliament