In Summary
  • Book reveals how dealmakers show up with mouth-watering offers once one is appointed to the Cabinet.
  • Leadership,” he writes, “places an individual at the centre of temptations, and these temptations are many.
  • You don’t have to be a bad leader to encounter the allure of shortcuts.
  • You just need to sit at the helm and the floodgate of ideas and options that lead towards abuse will present themselves.

When Prof Jacob T. Kaimenyi was serving as Education Cabinet secretary, a group of people approached him with a strange request: They wanted him to award them the multibillion-shilling tender to supply laptops to Standard One pupils, in line with the Jubilee government’s pledge to give free laptops to children in public primary schools, to a politician. In return for this consideration, the politician offered to reward the CS handsomely, offering him a generous share of the money as kickback.

Prof Kaimenyi did not bite the bait and he told them that what they were asking for was not possible. A few months later, a motion of no confidence in the CS was tabled on the floor of the National Assembly in July 2015. Again, he was approached by a different group of people, this time from Meru, who promised that they could make the motion go away if he gave them Sh5 million to deal with the matter.

“I told them that I could not do such a thing because I didn’t have the money, unless I borrowed it from a bank or stole it,” he reveals. Luckily for him, when the matter was put to the vote after a debate in Parliament, MPs were unable to marshal the numbers needed to kick him out of the Cabinet.

These were by no means the only incidents involving potential corruption and influence peddling that the CS had to face during his tenure in the Cabinet. In his newly released book, Betrayal of Public Trust, Prof Kaimenyi, now Kenya’s ambassador to the Kingdom of Belgium and the European Union, reveals that after he was vetted by Parliament for appointment as a CS in 2013, rumours started doing the rounds that one of the nominees had paid MPs Sh50 million so as to be cleared.

“Whether this was simply the usual romour mill or not, I wasn’t sure,” he writes in his book, in which he characterises the numerous problems, such as poverty and bad governance in African countries, as the product of electing leaders who lack integrity.

He reveals that when he was vetted for the position of ambassador to Unesco, he was approached by another person, who told him the interview had not gone well and if he could give that person “something”, his case would be considered favourably.

“I must admit that this was one moment in my life when to bribe or not, was brought to an elastic limit,” he confesses.

In the candid book, Prof Kaimenyi details the many incidents when his principles were tested to the limit.

For instance, soon after he was first named to the Cabinet and put in charge of the Ministry of Lands, one of his acquaintances approached him with yet another idea of how they could get rich quickly.

He says that the individual “I had known for a long time wanted us to form a company to identify pieces of land whose leases were about to expire and demand that they part with ‘something', before I can approve renewal of such leases. When this seemingly enticing proposal was put to me, I could not believe my ears,” he writes in his book, launched last Saturday in Nairobi on the same day that his third book, Don't Hesitate, was also launched.

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