Waihiga: Strange trajectory of Rio Olympics fiasco, but how long will it take?
Waihiga Mwaura in London, UK
On Saturday, October 13, 2018, the Director of Public Prosecutions Noordin Haji stunned the sports fraternity in Kenya by announcing that several former high-level sports authorities should be charged in court in connection to the Rio 2016 fiasco that marred Team Kenya’s campaign in the Games.
They include the former Sports Cabinet Secretary Hassan Wario,ex-Sports PS Richard Ekai, former NOCK chairman and first recipient of the Olympic laurel Kipchoge Keino among six others.
The Director of Criminal Investigations is said to have established that several offenses were committed in the manner in which funds allocated for the Rio Olympic Games were managed.
In addition the DPP estimates that the amount of money that may have been misappropriated is over Ksh 55 million.
While the announcement seems to have been received positively by the sports fraternity and Kenyans at large one must pause and ask themselves why it took so long and why.
The Rio Olympics took place from August 5-21, 2016 in Brazil.
Whilst Kenya bagged six gold medals, six silver medals, and one bronze marking its best Olympics performance ever, it was also its most embarrassing moment, an Achilles heel so to speak.
Kenya’s performance at the Summer Games was nothing but scandalous with doping allegations, missing kits, misappropriation of funds and other reports dominating the media headlines in Kenya.
This obviously overshadowed the marvellous performance Kenya’s athletes; the top African team at the Games gave.
On August 28 of the same year, Citizen TV did broadcast a damning report on what transpired at the Rio Games titled the “Rio Fiasco”.
The report gave a deep insight of what transpired at the games and showed how sports officials had made the Games their personal playground hosting family members (joyriders) as well as allocating valuable Nike uniforms to their cronies not to mention the misappropriation of taxpayers’ funds.
The report was as a result of nearly two months of painful investigation involving several whistleblowers, and damning documentation.
Athletes, sports officials and ordinary Kenyans came out in their numbers on social media endorsing the #RioFiasco report and demanding for action to be taken on those mentioned.
A day later Parliament announced that they would form a special committee to probe the scandal.
The office of the Director of Criminal Investigations kicked off a probe and summoned all the parties involved including myself to write statements on what exactly transpired in Rio.
Former Sports Cabinet Secretary Dr Hassan Wario, now one of the seven accused persons by the DPP, even formed a probe committee to investigate the Rio Fiasco.
Interestingly, two of the accused have since been appointed as ambassadors by the President.
I also gave evidence to that body on what my investigations had revealed.
A few arrests were made here and there.
Some sports officials were arraigned in court.
But one month later the nation seemingly moved on and the hue and clamour for a speedy resolution on this scandal dissipated.
On 1st January, 2017, a few months before a high-stakes general election, President Uhuru Kenyatta revived the probe by affirming in a speech that, the Director of Public Prosecution is reviewing the files in order to decide whether evidence exists to take further action on the top leadership of the Sports Ministry. “We promise accountability, and someone will be held to account,” the President charged then.
After that the matter was forgotten and perhaps the investigation files left to gather dust on the shelves, not to be discussed again by the President, his deputy or the investigating authorities.
As time went by so did a national election come and go. A Presidential Supreme court petition was heard and determined. A political handshake of national proportions was witnessed. And the Rio fiasco probe seemingly fizzled out. Not to be mentioned again, until today!
What could have suddenly changed? Well, those in the know may never tell it, let alone spill the beans if they are required to.
The President’s new DPP and DCI have been described as new brooms with the vigour, zeal and appetite to tackle head-on the monster that is endemic corruption.
Granted, we may have to wait for the full resolution of those cases to pass our individual judgments.
But for the athletes that were affected by the Rio probe they have had to wait for over two years for some semblance of justice.
The heroes and heroines who suffered under harsh conditions; running on the track even when their bones were aching but who for the love of the nation and their enduring spirit chose not to listen to their bodies or cave in to the demands have had to live with trauma as the matter stalled.
They probably gave up and said to themselves: this is how things are in Kenya; resigning to fate that justice may never be served after all!
But with the renewed vigour, there is a glimmer of hope even as an expectatnt nation follows the developments with guarded optimism.
For now they ask: Will we ever get justice?
I, too, ask the same question.
* The writer is the BBC Komla Dumor 2018 award winner & a Citizen TV news anchor*