The Galacticos: A Kenyan anti-corruption story

The Galacticos (and Florentino Perez)

I am a massive football fan. One of my favourite teams is, of course, Real Madrid.

What sold me to the club was the Galacticos project. A superstar signing every summer. The swashbuckling football that would (inevitably) follow: Luis Figo, Zinedine Zidane, Ronaldo and David Beckham would sweep all before them, winning trophies and selling shirts all around the globe. It’s every kids’ dream. Playstation football. This time, it was for real.

The Galacticos (and Florentino Perez)
The Galacticos and Florentino Perez (source

In many ways, the fight against corruption in Kenya reminds me of the Galacticos: a highly idealistic project laden with good intentions but doomed to fail from the start.

Here’s how:

We need another Galactico now

The President recently assented to the Bribery Act, 2016 which has been hailed as one which will “target graft in the private sector”, especially since it was drafted by said private sector. There’s nothing as good as self-diagnosis. The Act proposes a general penalty of a fine of up to Kshs 5 million, or imprisonment of up to 10 years, or to both in sections 18 and 19. The Act not only imposes a duty to prevent bribery but also to report it.

It is also a copy-paste of the United Kingdom’s Bribery Act, 2010  (with the deletions and a few additions to look like someone did something). Whatever happened to “sovereignty”, “we don’t need the West” and my personal favourite “we need local solutions for local problems”?

(Don’t mind me, I’m a hater).

Pretty cool, eh?

Not so cool when you realise that we have a long list of laws that address bribery/corruption/graft/your favourite synonym for Kenya’s favourite vice, including:

A whole chapter of the Constitution of Kenya, 2010 devoted to leadership and integrity

The Anti-Corruption and Economic Crimes Act, 2003

The Public Officer Ethics Act, 2003

The Proceeds of Crime and Anti-Money Laundering Act, 2009

The Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission Act, 2011

The Leadership and Integrity Act, 2011 

The Public Procurement and Asset Disposal Act, 2015

Just what we need is YET ANOTHER LAW TO FIGHT CORRUPTION. Because the existing laws just weren’t doing it. The same way Real Madrid need another galactico signing. Because the previous ones just didn’t get it. It’s not like Zidane didn’t do this to win the Champions League in 2002.


We also need another manager now

In 5 years Real Madrid had Vicente del Bosque, Carlos Queiroz, José Antonio Camacho, Mariano García Remón, Vanderlei Luxemburgo, Juan Ramón López Caro, Fabio Capello and Bernd Schuster as managers. Some of them acted for a month or so, but the footnote still reads manager of Real Madrid.

We’ve changed the name of agencies: from the Kenya Anti-Corruption Authority (declared unconstitutional through the decision in Stephen Mwai Gachiengo & another v Republic [2000] eKLR) to the Kenyan Anti-Corruption Commission and finally the Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission the same way we’ve changed the men (they are always men) heading them.

We had:

John Harun Mwau (who is embroiled in a spat with the US Government over his alleged trade in pharmaceuticals );

Justice Aaron Ringera (who gave us big fish, small fish and a mixtape);

Prof PLO Lumumba (it is rumoured one had to attend his pressers with a dictionary and a thesaurus):

Mumo Matemu (who at least inspired some serious local jurisprudence on integrity in Trusted Society of Human Rights Alliance v Attorney General & 2 others [2012] eKLR which was later overturned by the Court of Appeal)

Philip Kinisu (who we thought was clean and knew his stuff because he’d been a partner at a Big Four – LOL );

and finally Rev Eliud Wabukala (because you can’t get any cleaner than a man of God).

But not another President

Of course, when you’re dealing with a president (Florentino Perez) who cannot understand why you are not winning despite “having given you everything”. He wants to see results NOW (despite him micromanaging you, telling you which player to pick and which one to drop, and generally making your work impossible). There’s only one way for you: out. Then they’ll bring someone else to fix YOUR (note that it’s never their) mess.

Which is what our President did here, telling us, essentially: “I’ve given these guys everything to fight corruption. Money is there. What do you want me to do?”

The eternal hope that we can still win with a dysfunctional system

The Galacticos project ultimately failed because of the lack of balance in the side when Claude Makelele (a midfielder so good he permanently bequeathed his name to the role he occupied) and Vicente del Bosque left. It didn’t matter if they signed the next Galactico unless that huge hole in midfield was plugged and balance was restored.  Plus, where were all the superstar midfielders and strikers going to play anyway?

As I’ve observed before, the biggest impediment to the fight against corruption is the lack of political will to do it. Unless that happens, it doesn’t matter how many Acts of Parliament we pass, how many agencies we form, or how much money we throw at the problem – it still won’t work. Not when the agencies (CID, DPP, EACC) bicker among themselves with the endless “it’s my job/no it’s not my job/it’s your job” charade they’ve fed us with every scandal that comes to light.

But we remain hopeful, that we will win this war. We can always enact another law, the same way Real Madrid will always make another signing and the Jubilee government will launch another project.

Until then…

mourinho exasperated



Martin Maitha

Mr. Maitha is an Advocate of the High Court of Kenya. He specialises in legal research and writing, and has a keen interest in corporate, commercial, media and ICT law.



About Martin Maitha 16 Articles
Mr. Maitha is an Advocate of the High Court of Kenya. He specialises in legal research and writing, and has a keen interest in corporate, commercial, media and ICT law.