Kenya Terror Attack: A Rebuttal to Amina Mohamed by Jared Odero
Kenyan Foreign Affairs Cabinet Secretary Amina Mohamed’s response to Giles Foden’s piece titled ‘Kenya: behind the terror is rampant corruption’ published in theguardian.com, was largely disingenuous. She claimed that “The Kenyan military led the operation to free hostages and kill or capture those who had trapped them, and we are proud of the professionalism and determination of our forces.” However, the truth is that we are ashamed of the unprofessional and undisciplined KDF soldiers who looted at Westgate and killed a Recce Squad officer because of poor command tactics.
Amina challenged Foden’s assertion that: “In Kenya crime and terrorism are deeply linked, not the least by the failure of successive Kenyan governments to control either.” She seems quite naïve because according to the Overseas Security Advisory Council (OSAC) 2012 Crime and Safety Report on Kenya, “The most common crime in Kenya’s major cities, and in particular Nairobi, is car-jacking. In virtually every instance, criminals use weapons to hijack a vehicle. Victims are sometimes tied up and put in the back seat or trunk of their own car. Criminals who commit these crimes will not hesitate to shoot a victim who is the least bit uncooperative or who may appear to hesitate before complying with their assailant. Violent and sometimes fatal criminal attacks, including armed carjackings, home invasions/burglaries, and kidnappings can occur at any time and in any location, most particularly in Nairobi.” Foden was right that successive governments have not been able to deal with such crimes.
Foden sees terrorist attacks in Kenya as part of “a spectrum of banditry, with corruption at one end, terrorism at the other, and regular robbery in the middle.” This must have annoyed Amina who wondered why past terrorist attacks in the US (9/11) and the UK (7/7) were not attributed to “corruption within the security agencies involved.” This is the kind of stuff that degrades Amina, who is the current international attack dog of the Jubilee government. Who does not know about deep-seated corruption within Kenya’s security agencies? In an analysis of corruption in Kenya’s security agencies, Edmund Blair reported that even if gathering intelligence to fight terrorism improved, “corruption would still hinder surveillance and tracking of cells. For the equivalent of a few hundred dollars slipped to an officer, a suspect can buy a passport, pass a checkpoint without searches or purchase arms, experts and officers say.” (See: uk.reuters.com October 4, 2013). Porous borders with Somalia make it easy for terrorists to enter Kenya at will by bribing border control officers.
Following the Westgate attack, 15 senior and mid-level immigration officers were sacked in October, for issuing Kenyan documents to illegal immigrants. Is this not enough proof of systemic corruption in Government? In Edmund Blair’s report, he cites a former Kenyan intelligence official who said: “he had once tried to prove to senior colleagues the depth of corruption by bringing his Somali operatives across the border using Kenyan passports he bought on the black market for about $300 each.” But Amina “sees no evil, hears no evil”, because Kenya is perfect and corruption-free. Former President Kibaki lied during his inauguration in 2002 that he would eradicate corruption, yet during his ten-year rule, it escalated beyond imagination. President Uhuru recently launched a website for Kenyans to report corruption; it is a wait and see situation.
Foden wrote: “A lot of money has gone into commercial property, and particularly the building of supermarkets. But without governance it all looks very shaky.” Amina’s response mentioned how Kenya has progressed in recent years with multiparty elections, free primary education, a lively media, anti-corruption campaigns and judicial reforms, etc. Nonetheless, where is governance when Kenya is led by a president and his deputy who have cases of crimes against humanity at the International Criminal Court (ICC)? Moreover, the Judiciary is currently in crisis following the misuse of millions of cash by its employees, and members of the Judicial Service Commission have been paying themselves inflated sitting allowances, sourced from public funds. The country’s Auditor General released a report on the Government’s accounts for the year ending June 2012 and noted that KES 303 billion of public finance could not be accounted for. What about the purging of sections on land grabbing by the Kenyatta family noted in the report by Truth, Justice and Reconciliation Commission?
If former President Kibaki had qualities of good governance, he would have won this year’s Mo Ibrahim’s 2013 Prize for Excellence in Leadership which is aimed at retired African leaders. For this year, Kenya has improved within Ibrahim’s Governance Index (from 25 to 21), although he is worried that “governance indicators in the regional giants of Egypt, Nigeria, South Africa and Kenya seem to indicate that these countries “appear to be stuttering a bit.”” (In: New African, November 3, 2013). We still have internally displaced persons (IDPs) in camps, and the media is being bullied for reporting the truth behind the Westgate attack. Poverty-stricken Kenyans still have no voice, while the rich and powerful ones have no regard for the rule of law. Amina herself has publicly encouraged Uhuru Kenyatta not to go to The Hague to face his trial. Is this good governance?
Amina ended her response to Foden with a veiled attack on foreign journalists that they should report responsibly on “the Kenya of today, and that we are judged by today’s reality, not memories of a Kenya past.” Whoever watched international reporters covering the Westgate operation will recall that they gave a true picture of the current Kenya. Were we to trust Amina and the misinformed Ole Lenku, Cabinet Secretary for Interior and his burning mattresses?
Amina scored very poorly with her Westgate rhetoric which she presented at the United Nations Security Council in a bid to have Uhuru Kenyatta’s ICC trial deferred for one year. What she has not realized is that she is just a pawn in the larger game of the Kikuyu elite who will do anything to protect Uhuru. By accepting to work with the ICC suspects, she has soiled her impeccable diplomatic credentials. She is doing a Martha Karua who was used by Kibaki to attack the West and then dumped into oblivion when she ceased being useful.