FPE Fraud: Kibaki’s Legacy of Corruption – Part 4 (Final)
Donors demand refund of FPE money
In June 2011, Raila Odinga tabled in Parliament a new report titled: ‘Extended Forensic Audit of Kenya Education Sector Support Program’ indicating an adjusted figure of KSh4.6 billion up from Treasury’s KSh4.2 billion, lost through corruption. A new twist in the FPE fraud is the demand for a refund of cash from donors that was put in KESSP. Both the World Bank and DFID sent aid under the framework of Joint Financing Agreement. Similar demands have been echoed by the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA), UNICEF and the Fast Track Initiative.
On November 1, 2011 Benjamin Muiruri wrote in the Daily Nation newspaper that Treasury had begun paying back the donor money stolen from the FPE program. In July, DFID received KSh14 million and at the end of October, another KSh164 million. The Canadians expect a refund of KSh52 million.
The refunded cash will be re-allocated to non-governmental organizations (NGOs) to continue the goal of aiding FPE. According to DFID spokesperson Rose Brown, “It is right for the UK government to be fully reimbursed for our share of funds that have been stolen as we have an obligation to our taxpayers to ensure that their money is used for the intended purpose.” DFID has already bought and distributed through NGOs, 2.6 million textbooks for more than 320,000 school children in Kenyan slums. If no money was stolen as had initially been claimed, why is the government paying money back to donors? Uhuru Kenyatta’s spokesperson Munyori Buku said that taxpayers will not lose a coin in the refunds because those found guilty will be surcharged. But do top Kenyan officials ever refund public money they have stolen? That’s a first.
State of the hoi polloi
In Okoth Osewe’s KSB article titled: ‘Is Kenya’s Independence for Real?’ (December 2, 2011), he analyzed the sad state of affairs for poor Kenyans this way: “Without money, you will never get an education in Kenya and millions of parents are sweating blood to educate their children because the government plays no role in its citizen’s education. One can argue that the government introduced free primary education but surely, what can a standard eight achieve with a standard eight education in today’s Kenya?
You are a university graduate and you have no job because the government no longer creates jobs to keep its citizens at work. We have a government without a “Labour Office” which the unemployed can visit to look for work because the concept of employment by the government evaporated eons ago. If graduates cannot get jobs, the case of school drop-outs cannot even be discussed. For Kenyans in this category, Independence is a meaningless word.”
The succulent fruits of Independence promised by Kenya’s first president Jomo Kenyatta, were picked by the chosen few whom he favored. Most of them were political cronies and relatives from his Kikuyu tribe. Because of corruption, they built a solid financial base that kept them powerful throughout former Dictator Moi’s era and currently under Kibaki’s presidency. They belong to the old money class, dominate Kenya’s corporate world, and maintain the status quo using political connections. Meanwhile, many other Kenyans can only dream of perpetual poverty.
There is a lot to be done for FPE to succeed. The 2011 Uwezo learning assessment report for Kenya titled: ‘Are Our Children Learning?’ presents grim disparities in schools across the country. Urban slums, arid and semi-arid areas in the North Eastern region have the worst outcomes, while children from socio-economically better homes do well. Public schools have worse levels of literacy compared to private schools, and so forth. Many rural areas also suffer disparities in the provision of educational resources. Uwezo (Kiswahili for capability) is a four year initiative for conducting annual learning surveys (numeracy and literacy) in Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania. Large scale household surveys are carried out on children from ages 6-16. (In: uwezo.net).
The thorny issue of internally displaced persons (IDPs) also affects children who sometimes cannot attend school as required because of the long distances from their camps, or due to insecurity. There are also many pupils with learning disabilities who need to be cared for. Kenya still lags behind in facilitating special needs education.
Occupants of informal settlements (slums) in Kenya are also left to fend for themselves in terms of accessing FPE. Research done by the Nation TV in 2009 and recorded in video links posted at the end of this article, indicated that children in these areas have the worst schooling imagined, provided by untrained teachers, and without basic learning materials. Why should they be in such situations if FPE is meant for all children? What are their local MPs doing to bring change? Who monitors how CDF is being used there?
The Standard newspaper’s ‘Madd Madd World’ cartoon series published December 17, 2011 illustrated the paradox of Kenya’s economic growth this way: “The economy is booming, the infrastructure is smoother, our national loot is bigger than any of our neighbors… So why are Kenyans poor?”
Is FPE realistic?
Uwezo found out that pouring billions of dollars into the education system does not translate to learning. Due to corruption, many school children lack learning materials, personnel and other provisions for quality education. Was Kibaki’s FPE promise a mere ploy to earn votes?
Although FPE has increased pupils’ participation, overcrowded classrooms cannot match the current low number of teachers, especially since the government has refused to employ more. At some schools, the pupil-teacher ratio is 100:1. The program is therefore an extension of the low quality 8-4-4 education system established by Moi’s regime in the 1980s. Apart from a government waiver on school fees and the provision of textbooks, families still bear the cost of other learning materials. In a report by Najum Mushtaq on October 16, 2008, such costs hinder access to schooling. He quoted a parent who said: “To call it free primary education is misleading. For my youngest daughter in Standard Four, I still have to pay for food, transport and uniform which adds up to 5000 shillings ($70) per term.” (ipsnews.net). The government pays KSh1,020 ($14) only, per pupil per term, to purchase textbooks, notebooks and to repair school facilities.
A 2007 report compiled by CREATE (Consortium for Research on Educational Access, Transitions and Equity) at Sussex University and funded by DFID, reviewed the progress of Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania towards universal education. Titled: ‘Policies on free primary and secondary education in East Africa’ it highlighted research which states that “while the Kenyan government raised its education budget in 2003-04 by 17.4 per cent and was strongly supported by donor funding in its free primary education initiative, this may not be sustainable.”
It was also noted in the report that: “The cost of providing free primary education is beyond the scope of the ordinary education budget, economic performance has not been strong and donor finance is often temporary. The free primary education initiative of 2003 was pursued as a matter of political expediency. It was not adequately planned and resourced and thus had the consequences of increased drop-out and falling educational quality.”
Kibaki’s legacy of corruption
Amidst all the economic improvement since Kibaki took over from former Dictator Moi, “misrule and ineptitude” have continued and his leadership has perpetuated the “era of anything goes.” By surrounding himself with golf buddies also known as the ‘Mount Kenya Mafia’, he reneged on a key section of his 2002 inaugural address which was: “We want to bring back the culture of due process, accountability and transparency in public office. The era of ‘anything goes’ is gone forever. Government will no longer be run on the whims of individuals. The era of roadside policy declarations is gone. My government’s decisions will be guided by teamwork and consultations.”
An article in the Observer newspaper by Xan Rice (February 3, 2008) blamed Kibaki’s ‘Kitchen Cabinet’ for some of his bad decisions as president. “Several of Kibaki’s Kikuyu golfing friends have assumed significant influence at State House in recent years. ‘Some of these people hold very strong thoughts about the superiority of the Kikuyus and their inherent right to govern,’ said a former government minister. ‘It’s a case of “We helped end British rule using the Mau Mau, and we are the ones that keep the economy ticking over. The other 42 ethnic groups are welcome to live in Kenya, but only we can rule.” He said he did not believe ‘the President is calling the shots at all. He always has to consult the hardliners around him’.” It is a pity that the politics of that period gave Kenyans Kibaki, who honed his political skills in the 1960s and has no record of connecting with the hoi polloi.
In his book: ‘Raila Odinga’s Stolen Presidency’, Stockholm-based Kenyan author and blogger, Okoth Osewe, describes how Kenya has been ruled by “an old generation of politicians at both the Presidential and Parliamentary levels” since independence in 1963. The first President, Jomo Kenyatta, surrounded himself with old men of his Kikuyu tribe whose inner circle was known as the “Kiambu Mafia”. His leadership was tainted with “abuse of power, mass subjugation, human rights violations, promotion of poverty and other unacceptable vices.” When former Dictator Moi took over in 1978, he declared that his presidency would be based on “Kenyatta’s footsteps” – (Fuata Nyayo in Swahili). When his term ended in 2002, “the country’s leadership was taken over by another breed of old guards who quickly surrounded Kibaki and set up a Mafia cartel that derailed the aspirations of the Kenyan people.” (Page 316). After Kibaki’s exit in 2012, Kenya will need a generational change to usher in a President with progressive thinking.
Kibaki’s lacklustre appraoch to governance entrenched corruption further during his two terms, yet he had all the resources and support to deal it a ‘coup de grâce’. Unfortunately, he proved that stamping out corruption was like “trying to cut down a mugumo (fig tree) with a razor”; a phrase he is credited for because he doubted KANU could be dislodged from power during the advent of mulitparty politics in the 1990s.
Wiping out corruption could have won Kibaki the coveted $5 million Mo Ibrahim Prize for Achievement in African Leadership after retirement. The immediate former President Pedro Pires of Cape Verde is this year’s winner. He was awarded because of his “vision in transforming Cape Verde into a model of democracy, stability and increased prosperity.” He successfully managed the transition of his country from a single-party autocracy to multiparty democracy. In only 10 years, he removed Cape Verde from the Least Developed category to a middle-income one, second only to Botswana in the whole of Africa. The country is now recognized for good governance and the championing of human rights. With a sound ecomonic growth of six per cent annually (real GDP) and per capita incomes rising by 181 per cent, Pires has improved the social capital of his citizens. For instance, literacy rate is over 80 per cent and life expectancy is more than 70 years.
Other reasons for the award published in the November issue of the African Business magazine were: “He paid great attention to sound macro-economic management, good governance and the responsible use of donor support to improve infrastructure, build up the country’s tourism industry and prioritize social development.” Pires did all these and more in 10 years, having inherited a difficult political landscape. He was elected in 2001 and stepped down in August 2011.
In Kibaki’s case, the two terms were spent applying cosmetic surgery on the political rot he inherited, instead of uprooting it. In the FPE theft, he was more concerned with political expediency instead of dealing with Education minister Ongeri, according to the audit recommendations. Kibaki must have been aware of the endemic graft cases among his ministers, yet he never acted in favor of the poor taxpayers. No wonder his indecisiveness earned him the nickname ‘General Kiguoya’ (Kikuyu for the Coward).
According to the 2011 Ibrahim Index of African Governance, “Over the past five years, Kenya’s overall governance quality deteriorated (between 2006 and 2010).” It seems that in retirement, Kibaki will be consigned to political oblivion for allowing corruption to continue as “a way of life in Kenya.”
Enjoying the game edespite limited resources