Stop these thieves! US envoy McCarter says as Kenyan leaders pray
A fiery US ambassador to Kenya Kyle McCarter has come out strongly to condemn wanton corruption in the country.
In a tweet that some deemed as sarcastic, McCarter spoke out as leaders converged at Safari Park Hotel, Nairobi for the National Prayer Breakfast on Thursday.
“Kenyan leaders are praying and asking for forgiveness for the sin of thievery at the 17th annual National Prayer Breakfast. What a good start to take the nation on the path of prosperity the wananchi deserve. We must all do our part #stopthesethieves,” the tweet reads.
Minutes after posting the controversial statement, the envoy reposted another message attributed to CBE British House of Lords Michael Hasting.
“All we say about corruption is meaningless unless we are accountable for our actions,” it reads.
When asked whether his message was intended to be sarcastic, the American envoy responded saying: “In this atmosphere we must celebrate every effort to recognize and take on thievery.””
One Rafe Mazer accused the ambassador of making a ‘palliative’ statements instead of analysing and engaging Kenyans on how to deal with corruption.
He further termed the tweet as ‘disappointing’.
However, Amb. McCarter clapped back saying his intention was never to publish ‘a full position paper on dealing with thievery’.
Others who responded to his controversial tweet lauded him for speaking boldly against corruption while some urged him to be cautious lest he be ‘summoned to State House’.
On May 16 this year, after a meeting with Director of Criminal Investigations George Kinoti, the U.S. envoy posted a message on Twitter urging investigative agencies to ensure they catch the ‘big fish’.
“Appreciate the friendship of fellow Brother from Meru DCI George Kinoti and the great work he is doing to
#StopTheseThieves. Let’s pray that the DCI can catch the big fish and make an example of how thievery will not be tolerated in Kenya. USA is backing you 100%,” he said.
KENYA ‘FULL OF CORRUPTION GLUTTONS’
McCarter is not the first foreign envoy to take a tough stance on corruption and call out Kenyan leaders over the vice.
Britain’s High Commissioner in Kenya, Sir Edward Clay, was summoned to the Foreign Ministry in 2004 for accusing ministers of stealing Ksh.16billion.
“Evidently the practitioners now in government have the arrogance, greed and perhaps a desperate sense of panic to lead them to eat like gluttons. But they can hardly expect us not to care when their gluttony causes them to vomit all over our shoes,” the outspoken envoy told British businessmen.
The next day, newspapers local and international, carried the story with glaring headlines such as Edward Clay: Kenya’s government is full of corrupt gluttons and Our man in hot water: colourful attack on Kenyan corruption starts diplomatic row
At the time, the President Mwai Kibaki-led administration was hit with claims of grand corruption through the Anglo Leasing scandal.
Four years later, the then Justice Minister Martha Karua declared him persona non grata: prohibited from travelling to Kenya after his tenure ended.
‘DICTATED TO BY FOREIGNERS’
US Ambassador to Kenya William Bellamy also clashed with the government over his pronouncements against leaders linked to the vice.
In a speech on donor funds for AIDS programs, VOA reports that he quoted a study that found that the Ministry of Health allegedly spent $6.5million (Ksh.659million) each year on non-existent staff.
“…it is not too much to ask that the ministry stop paying for these unoccupied positions and redirect that funding to real people in real positions,” he said.
According to the VOA report, the then Vice-President Moody Awori responded in a strongly worded statement saying: “Kenyans would not allow themselves to be to be dictated to by foreigners,” and that officials and structures were already investigating corruption cases.
An opinion article in the East African dated July 11, 2005 further criticised the envoy: Bellamy’s attack insulting, the headline read.
‘SHUT UP, MR. AMBASSADOR’
The late Smith Hempstone, American journalist turned United States ambassador to Kenya during President Daniel arap Moi’s tenure, touted multiparty elections until they became a reality.
According to the New York Times, he faced death threats twice but this did not stop him.
“We don’t just export Coca-Cola and blue jeans,” the NYT quoted one his speeches: “We export democracy.”
The report further adds that he was accused of giving children drugs and alcohol to further his ambitions and at one time, a caricature of him as a fat pig was splashed on the front page of a local daily with the headline ‘Shut up, Mr. Ambassador‘.