I have previously expressed fear on this space that corruption is making a big-time comeback under the UhuRuto regime.
Buccaneers of Anglo-Leasing infamy have been trolling the corridors of power with renewed swagger, after having been banished to the sidelines once the scandal blew up in President Kibaki’s face.
All manner of shady wheeler-dealers offering their unique skills have been welcomed with open arms by the movers and shakers in the Jubilee government.
They have easy access to all the important offices, and it has again become the norm for investors from China, India, Europe, the United States, the Middle East and anywhere else looking entry into Kenya not to find open doors unless they go through the briefcase intermediaries.
The unconventional methods of doing business outside all known transparency and accountability mechanisms are already causing major headaches for President Uhuru Kenyatta ‘s government, as evidenced by the laptops fiasco and continuing questions over the proposed Mombasa-Nairobi-Malaba railway.
The giant Lamu Port-South Sudan-Ethiopia project will face similar problems if a group of “businessmen” recently granted audience ay State House have their way in the quest for contracts outside lawful procurement systems.
With such skulduggery taking root, it is not surprising to see the government proposing to pay billions for supposedly cancelled projects under the Anglo Leasing umbrella.
Many years have passed since the Treasury under the Kibaki regime conned Kenyans that the corrupt projects had been scrapped, government promissory notes cancelled or advance payments returned by ghost companies.
Many in the know at the time pointed out alleged refunds were just part of the cover-up, and that the government had no powers to unilaterally cancel the promissory notes dished out like confetti.
The Anglo Leasing ghost is now coming to haunt the Kenyatta government, but instead of calling in the ghost-busters, the Treasury is bending over backwards in their zeal to pay for projects long deemed as corrupt or non-existent.
No doubt National Treasury Cabinet Secretary Henry Rotich and Attorney-General Githu Muigai can offer good reasons for the decision to make payments.
The aggrieved beneficiaries went to court and won damages against the government for breach of contract. The appeals process has run out, and Kenya has no option but to pay up if it wants to remain creditworthy and have access to international financial markets.
Kenya would also be at risk of having its assets overseas, including bank accounts and embassy buildings, seized by auctioneers if it refused to pay.
There is no gainsaying the fact that despite all the chest-thumping histrionics on sovereignty and national pride, Kenya must remain a member of the international community of civilised nations if it wants to meet national development goals.
The country must have access to foreign capital, float international borrowing instruments and also attract investors. That will not happen with any country that refuses to pay its debts.
Therefore, must we pay the Anglo-Leasing loans? That is where the new scandal is, for now it’s not about the original sin, but one compounded by what can only have been deliberate refusal to offer robust legal defences.
However, we must not be surprised if architects of Anglo Leasing, Goldenberg, Triton oil, sugar and maize imports, land-grabbing, and other scandals have such powerful sway.
Most pathetic is the government’s attempt to pass the buck to Parliament on the proposed Anglo-Leasing payments.
When Deputy President William Ruto asserts that the government has no intention of paying but will leave the decision to Parliament, he conveniently neglects to mention that it is the same Executive branch he co-leads that is making the proposal.
Any pro-Anglo Leasing proposals to Parliament from the Treasury and the AG have to be taken as coming from the Cabinet. The Anglo Leasing ghosts have a good reason to be smiling all the way to the bank.