Kenya's President Uhuru Kenyatta has for the first time said he wants the renewed fight against corruption to be his legacy when he exits office in 2022.
In an exclusive interview with the BBC Hard Talk’s Zeinab Badawi, President Kenyatta seemed to put the fight against graft in the same category as his Big Four agenda of universal healthcare, affordable housing, food security, and manufacturing.
“It is something I am committed to do. It is what I want my legacy to be—the fight against corruption, and transparency, and to ensure that the nation’s resources are used in the manner it should be,” he said in the interview, a few hours after he met US President Donald Trump.
He said he had given his all to the fight, and asked the Judiciary to expedite the hearing of the cases, even as he promised more arrests, and prosecutions.
“As a government, as an individual, I am committed to this fight. This is an animal, this beast of corruption, is an animal that we intend to slay. What is remaining now is for our independent judiciary to do its job, and give justice for and on behalf of the people of Kenya,” he said.
While lauding the efforts he said had been done quietly over a long period of time, President Kenyatta said no one should be spared in the renewed war against graft.
“Regardless of who you are, even if you are my own family member, I have said that agencies are free to do their job,” he said.
He also, for the first time, addressed concerns over the lifestyle audit he had ordered in June following complaints, particularly by Kapseret MP Oscar Sudi, that the scrutiny should go as far back as the Head of State’s father, Mzee Jomo Kenyatta.
“We can even go back to my grandfather, great grandfather. . . What we own, and what we have is known to the public. If there is an instance where someone can say what we have done is not legitimate, say it, and we are ready to face any court,” he said.
He insisted that the lifestyle audit will go on, and will get to all senior government staff, including himself.
Asked if his March 9 handshake with opposition leader Raila Odinga meant a government position for him, President Kenyatta was categorical.
“Why should we create any new position? We work in the purview of the Constitution. But we can partner in terms of development,” he argued.
He dismissed as far-fetched and “impossible” calls for him to extend his term beyond 2022.
Some analyst had called for a change to the Constitution to have President Kenyatta extend his term beyond the set threshold of not more than two terms.
“There is no such provision in our Constitution (for me to extend my term), because we cannot see on the one hand we are fighting impunity, and then on the other, turn back and support the very thing we are fighting,” he said.
On his relationship with the US, Britain—ahead of his hosting British Prime Minister Theresa May Thursday—and China, where he will be hosted by Chinese prime minister Xi Jinping, President Kenyatta said the future could only be brighter for Africa.
“Africa is looking to do business. We want to get the best deals. There has been dramatic change across the African continent where people are beginning to get a better understanding of themselves, who they are and where they want to be,” he said, adding that “Africa has come of age and does not look to the world for aid but how to foster win-win partnerships that benefit all parties involved."