Criminal suspects in Kenya, if you go by the irritated comments about bail and bond policy by the judiciary, do not deserve due process, especially if they are accused of committing economic crimes or having a hand in the corruption that is roiling the national Executive at present. If the loudest voices in the Twittersphere and blogosphere had their way, Kenya would recreate the mass executions committed by the Jerry Rawlings military junta in Ghana in 1981.
As Ghana eventually discovered, mass murder will not eradicate a culture of corruption. For that to happen, the social and political costs of corrupt acts and economic criminality must be more than one should bear. Society must be prepared to impose the penalty, even against favoured holy cows. That is not where Kenya is today. Not by a long shot.
There isn't a Kenyan hustling two or three jobs who won't drive like a bat out of hell, ready and willing to offer a bribe to the traffic police to avoid the inconvenience of a court appearance. The penalties for minor traffic offences were enhanced in 2012; the reasoning behind it was that the harsher the potential penalty, the safer the use of the roads. That reasoning simply refused to acknowledge that the most important factor in decision-making on the roads is how much one is willing to part with as a bribe if stopped by the police. For most motorists, this is a consideration that even affects he household budget. For a minority, bribery considerations are far from their minds: they are the nabobs of the city, immune to the rule of law.
If the barrel of the AK-47 were to be turned against the corrupt, it would wipe out the one-percent! That is not a scenario that even the most optimistic anticorruption warrior will contemplate and retain their sanity. The wabenzi, as some genge wit summed them up, will never be troubled by the forces of law and order, will respond to prosecutorial summonses with a shrug and a writ, and will, if the Chief Justice and President of the Supreme Court is to be believed, buy the judge should the public prosecutor prove a little too zealous in his public service or should the public outcry be loud enough to require a token slap on the wrist.
Corruption pervades all strata of society in Kenya, affects everyone even if to varying degrees. Corruption is an acceptable way to conduct ourselves and our affairs. We approve of it. We encourage it. We are not ashamed by it. We ape the lobbyist slathering a US congressman with baby oil in the Bahamas and the British lord licking an Emirati sheikh's arsehole for that all-important tender for military hardware. After all, we whisper to ourselves, if the mzungu can swindle his people of their hard-earned taxes, it must be okay to do so by us too, right? We may not have been completely ignorant of the basic elements of corruption or economic crimes, but we perfected them under the tutelage of the great powers and that is why it is such a hoot for Kenyans espousing traditional British cultural markers or adopting faux Manhattan accents to stand in the agora and declaim with passion and authority about how low we have sunk.
Low? Don't make me laugh. The ones making the rules about corruption and economic crimes are laughing their arses off because they will never be nailed for doing what we do, only with a veneer of finesse. If we are to defeat corruption, we must admit that the models that we want base our governance on are deeply flawed. We must start with a clean slate. What do we want for ourselves? How can we attain those things? How much will those things cost? Are we prepared to pay for them? Simple questions with devilishly difficult answers. Those answers will not be found in Washington DC, London, Paris, Bonn or Geneva. They never will. Nor will mass murder.