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Our attention has been drawn to the recent nomination by President Uhuru of retired Anglican Church of Kenya Archbishop Eliud Wabukala to be the new chairperson of the Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission (EACC).
While we appreciate that the Kenyan Constitution explicitly forbids requiring of any religious test as a qualification for holding public office (Artice 28,32), it is clear to us that fighting corruption especially in Kenya requires political will, shared responsibility, and hard work among the democratically elected and political party leaders, political opposition, civil society, and citizens. In short, anti-corruption initiatives in Kenya are more likely to succeed if they bring more stakeholders on board. Without political will, without support from the executive, the fight against corruption shall remain still born.
Retired Archbishop Wabukala might have done well as an archbishop, but we doubt he has the drive, stamina, experience, character and predisposition to take on politically sensitive and high voltage corruption cases in this country. A quick glimpse at his career reveals that he has had more experience in theology and religion more than in any other professional field. In 1985, he left his profession as a teacher to study Theology at the St. Paul’s Theological College, in Limuru, finishing his studies in 1988. He became the Bishop of Bungoma on 13 October 1996, remaining in office for the next 12 years. Wabukala was elected Archbishop of Kenya on 24 April 2009, succeeding outgoing Archbishop Benjamin Nzimbi. He was enthroned at All Saints Cathedral, Nairobi, on 5 July 2009.Is this the experience we are looking for in the head of the anti-corruption commission?
In the church, forgiveness is exalted as a virtue, and punishment is never emphasized. How will a person who believes that in the bible’s message of forgiveness, and who has preached this message for over 20 years be good for EACC? We have also observed that he has not been very vocal against corruption in Kenya, despite being a high profile religious leader. We do not see a Desmond Tutu, a Martin Luther King, or even Archbishop Ndingi Mwana a Nzeki in Archbishop Wabukala. He looks too laid back, to unconcerned about mega corruption in Kenya. This should be a huge concern for Kenyans. What Kenya needs is a bold, unapologetic anti-corruption head. Not a compromising, lackluster, pulpit personality.
Kenya is that season in every electoral cycle when churches are cashing in on politicians’ ambitions. Vice President William Ruto for instance has been “donating” millions to churches to further his political agenda. We haven’t seen Wabukala taking issue publicly with the millions that the church is given by otherwise rogue and corrupt politicians. Is he willing to challenge where this money is coming from? Is he willing to do a lifestyle audit of the Vice President, and other key government officials who splash millions in churches? We don’t think so. We think he may become a lame duck under this environment.
We know, for instance, that the NYS scandal has seen some key government officials being charged in court for the loss of over 900 million shillings. We also know that some politically correct individuals have not been charged in court, a case in point being Ms. Anne Waiguru, the former Cabinet Secretary for devolution. Will Wabukala be bold enough to prosecute the big fish? We doubt that he will. He is a man of the cloth, and he may want to continue preaching forgiveness as head of EACC.
Finally, it will be unfortunate for a former leading religious leader to be hounded out of office just because of the politics of corruption in Kenya. It will be bad for the Anglican Church, and it will soil his reputation as a leading light in the religious fraternity. The history of EACC has demonstrated that whenever high profile cases are being investigated, the executive turns around and hounds the head of the commission out of office. Wabukala should indeed reject his appointment to remain relevant, based on the high turnover at the EACC.
We shall be presenting our misgivings pertaining to this nomination to parliament during the vetting of Mr. Wabukala.
We ask Kenyans to take this nomination with a pinch of salt.
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