On September 9th 2007, WikiLeaks released a 106 page secret document written in 2004 which contained the findings of an investigation into the looting of Kenyan funds by former president Daniel arap Moi and his associates. President Mwai Kibaki commissioned the report from Kroll, a private investigation firm based in the UK, in accordance with an anti-corruption agenda, which won him the presidency in 2002. The Kroll report alleges that Moi, his friends and family, siphoned off more than $3bn of government money into multiple properties in the UK, the US, Africa, and Australia, as well as a Belgian bank and other assets spread around the world. The Kroll report also illuminates the role played by first-world nations in hiding the Moi family assets, including The United States, Canada, Australia, Israel, and several European countries. The report states that President Moi’s lawyer “advised [the Moi family] to secure their assets in overseas countries. He stated there is no court ruling adjudging their wealth as illegal or corruptly obtained. […] The family was also advised to use proven trusts that are experienced at hiding pursued assets among select jurisdictions with relaxed money laundering policies.” In Kenya, forty-six percent of the population lives on less than one dollar per day. The funds alleged to be stolen by the Moi family represent 10% of the country’s annual GDP in 2010.
While the report places President Moi in the pantheon of African kleptocrats, the key part his two sons Gideon and Phillip played in the looting is widely covered. Phillip Moi for instance is said to possess an estimated wealth of 770 million dollars. The report also alludes to a trigger-happy family, which hired killers for (…):
Kulei [Daniel Moi’s aide and a central actor of corruption in Kenya] was warned after December 2003 by the DPP that the Moi brothers had a contract to have him killed. — Kroll report, page 10When Muzahim [a “a car dealer, drug baron involved in dealing with counterfeit money” according to the Kroll report] and Philip fell out, Philip paid an assassin to eliminate Muzahim but unfortunately the would-be assassin confessed to Muzahim and got paid off. — Kroll report, page 35
As part of this pseudo anti-corruption plan, journalist and anti-corruption campaigner John Githongo was appointed to lead those measures. Reassured the IMF and the World Bank resumed lending money to Kenya. Yet in 2004 Githongo resigned and found himself forced to live in exile, pointing out that the government made no substantial effort to clean up corruption in the country. The report for which they had spent two million pounds got suppressed, as Kibaki began his dangerous liaisons with the richest man in Kenya, Daniel arap Moi himself. A relation made official during the 2007 campaign where Moi offered Kibaki his full support. Both charged with cases of corruption, Kibaki took the opportunity to gain the votes of Moi’s previous supporters and most likely to win his financial opportunity offering in exchange the guaranty that he would not attempt to recover the founds.
It was three months before the election that Wikileaks released the secret document. Fearing consequences in a country where the government has often proven its limited respect for freedom of press Kenyan media appeared reluctant at first to spread the information. Reporters without Borders has indeed regularly condemned Kenya’s attitude toward its journalists pointing for instance the interdiction for journalists to penetrate the finance ministry a few months before the elections or the beating of a photographer trying to take pictures of President Kibaki a few days after them. Yet the news reached Kenya from abroad via the overwhelming impact the release of the Kroll report had on foreign medias – and more particularly in surrounding countries like Tanzania and South Africa. This massive publication allowed Kenyan journalists to feel confident enough to take hold of the scoop, confronting an entire population to a situation that could no longer be looked away from.
Many still have in mind what the New York Times called the “most fiercely fought election in Kenya’s History” whose fraudulent results foreign observers condemned led to months of chaos and tensions between the Kikuyu and the Luo tribes. If President Kibaki managed to stay in power he nevertheless had to pay the price of his own credibility toward his people and the rest of the world.
While Wikileaks allowed a huge step forward in the fight against corruption in Kenya its actions also consequently called attention to the issue of human rights in the country. In February 2008 the UN commissioned a report on extra judicial killings – the Alston report. The latter makes note of 6,452 “enforced disappearances” and 1,721 extra-judicial killings. Following the publication of the report two human right activists working for the Oscar Foundation in charge of providing evidence for the report were killed. Proving once again the fragility of a government forced to silence the dissident voices to legitimate its power.
Hence in this times of distrust between an illegitimate power and the people, the third power Wikileaks embodies have proven the essential part it needs to play. As the Nation Media Group wrote it in February 2007 “the good news is that a new frontier has opened in the war for truth and against corruption and the secrecy that cloaks it. A new frontier with enhanced state-citizen accountability; a more open society and certainly a more transparent government. I leave you with the words of Siddhartha Gautama (the Buddha) as reproduced by WikiLeaks.Org: Three things cannot hide for long: the Moon, the Sun and the Truth.”