Saudi Arabia has been in the news lately for a variety of reasons. From its bombing raids in the Yemenis to its blockade on Qatar.
Lost in the mix is the domestic vicissitudes currently visiting the kingdom. There are cultural changes too being experimented in this strict Muslim country and this has seen women being allowed to drive.
The death of King Abdullah has actually shaken the kingdom and right now, transiston is ongoing and with it the attendant purges.
Corruption is an issue the world over and the new young king decided to use a purge on corruption to stamp his authority. Actually he is only 32 years old.
Oil prices went through a bad dip and the kingdom in good wisdom decided to wean the economy off oil.
Checking things out, it has been found out that corruption has been eating deeply at the Saudi resources and the King decided to face it head on.
What has followed is high profile detentions in which the king has not spared anybody including close relatives.
A number of prominent Saudi Arabian princes, government ministers, and business people were arrested in
Saudi Arabia in November 2017 following the creation of an anti-corruption committee led by Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman (also known as MbS).
This purge has seen the arrests of over 500 people.
What’s curious is where and how the purge was carried out. The suspects were rounded up and booked at the
Ritz-Carlton hotel in Riyadh. The hotel subsequently stopped accepting new bookings and told guests to leave. Private jets were also grounded to prevent suspects from fleeing the country.
800 Billion USA dollars.
More than 2000 domestic bank accounts have been frozen as part of the crackdown and according the the wall street journal, the kingdom is targeting as much as 800 billion US dollars in the crackdown.
The Saudi authorities claim that this amount is composed of assets worth around $300 billion to $400 billion that they can prove was linked to corruption.
Those detained have been promised legal counsel with trials done in an open and transparent manner.
Mohammed Bin Salman says the suspects are shown files and it is from the facts on these files that negotiations start.
He has also appointed 26 new judges to expedite the process.
Around 95% of the targeted groups have pleaded guilty, paid negotiated fines and have been subsequently released to continue with their private lives.
Around 1% have so far been found to be clean and the charges facing them have been dropped instantly.
The allegations include money laundering, bribery, extorting officials, and taking advantage of public office for personal gain.
Lessons for Kenya.
A committee needs to be formed to come up with an inventory of all corruption cases in Kenya since independence.
This committee must quantify in total the amount so far embezzled.
The people suspected to be corrupt should then be detained at a dignified location and it is from this central location that negotiations in reparations should ensue, with each person being given legal counsel.
Negotiated settlements should be binding and those who pay up should be allowed to continue with their private lives, devoid of further state harassment.
Bank accounts should be investigated and when found suspicious, be investigated.
Prince Salman targeted his immediate family members knowing that they were using their proximity to power to amass wealth. The same is true for Kenya as the Chief suspects are from political families.
The fight against corruption takes energy and blood and the Saudi example can be a good way start.
Corruption in Kenya is even more serious than the Saudi one and serious leadership, strong in resolve and character will be the only way out