25 May 2018

Kenya: Social Media Users Plot Demos Over Graft Scandals

Photo: Jeff Angote/Daily Nation
This image taken on October 28, 2016 shows a banner outside the Ministry of Health warning against corruption.

Social media users in Kenya have expressed concern over "normalisation of corruption" and have called on Kenyans to hold demos on the eve of Madaraka Day and boycott the celebrations the following day.

The media has been awash with stories of graft scandals involving the National Youth Service (NYS), Youth Enterprise Development Fund (YEDF) and National Cereals and Produce Board (NCPB) over alleged misuse of public funds, hoarding of subsidised fertiliser and frustration of farmers who supply maize to the government.

The netizens are frustrated by a perception that graft has become an accepted way of life in Kenya and that those who squander the opportunity to loot public funds are viewed as failures.

DEMOS

Even as the investigations continue, scores of Kenyans have threatened to hold protests over what they term as failure by anti-graft agencies to charge and convict corrupt government officials with theft of public funds.

Kenyans on Facebook have set aside Thursday, May 31, for nationwide demonstrations with hashtags, #TakeBackOurCountry, #STOPTheseTHIEVES, #SitasimamaMaovuYakitawala and #NotYetMadaraka.

Consumer rights groups Buyer Beware Kenya and Her Voice Kenya have expressed support for the planned protests.

On Twitter, #BuyerBewareKenya called on #KenyansOnTwitter, KOT, to leave their keyboards behind, wear red and join the real protest.

HEROES

Writing on his Facebook page, Kenya O Gilbert, said that corrupt individuals in Kenya are celebrated as heroes and taxpayers hold them in high esteem.

"Too bad my friend. Instead of treating the corrupt individuals as pariahs in society, we let them become heroes with so many "educated" hangers-on around them wherever they go. Common folks sing praises to the big thieves in the hope that they may throw some morsels their way," wrote Mr Gilbert.

Joining the foray, Mr Njuguna wa Mbugua, said fighting corruption in the country would entail "uprooting" nearly every government institution.

"Kenya is not a failed nation. It is worse!" Mbugua said.

SCANDALS

Such loud sediments by Kenyans come amid investigations to establish culprits behind scandals at the NYS, Kenya Pipeline and YEDF.

At the NCPB, there is alleged theft of subsidised fertiliser worth Sh6.3 billion and payment of billions of shillings to traders and middlemen, funds that were meant strictly for farmers.

YEDF is faced with alleged inconsistencies in the disbursement of loans during migration of the Fund's data into the new enterprise resource planning platform.

The National Assembly Public Accounts Committee chaired by Ugunja MP Opiyo Wandayi on Friday will grill Cabinet secretaries Margaret Kobia (Public Service) and Sicily Kariuki (Health), NYS Principal Secretary Lilian Omollo and NYS Director-General Richard Ndubai over the Sh9 billion scandal.

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