By Joab Apollo
Hassan Wario’s appointment by President Uhuru Kenyatta in 2013 as Kenya’s Sports Cabinet Secretary was viewed as a recognition of minority communities in the country. His tribe, the nomadic Borana community, is one of the many small tribes that have suffered marginalization by successive Kenyan governments.
However, his reign as the custodian of the Kenyan sporting mettle did not inspire. An infamous 2016 Rio Olympics scandal further blotted an image that Kenya’s Sports lovers and journalists had turned into a punching bag for inefficacy in service delivery.
Together with senior sports officials, they were accused of embezzling Ksh. 88.6 million that was meant to kit, accommodate and pay the reputed Kenyan Olympics stars in the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Olympics.
And on Thursday September 16, 2021, the Anti-corruption Court Chief Magistrates Elizabeth Juma handed him a six years sentence or a fine of Ksh.3.6 million, much to the chagrin of Kenyans who felt the fine was too lenient given the economic consequences graft practises have had on the country.
And as many had expected, a jubilant Wario paid the fine on the same day and walked Scot free, perhaps plotting a stab at a political position in the forthcoming 2022 general election. Public figures in the East African country are known to enter elective politics to sanitize their image.
Disenchanted Kenyans reckon that to discourage institutionalized looting of public funds, the corrupt ought to be handed longer jail terms and harsher fines. The ruling has put them at loggerheads with the Judiciary, which has of late been pilloried for abetting corruption.
Gabriel Oguda tweeted: “The lesson is clear-if you don’t have money, stay away from criminal activity. Otherwise you will steal someone’s chicken worth 700bob and end up being jailed.”
Mwalimu Dida, a presidential aspirant, noted, “Corruption in Kenya is the second most profitable business after sex.”
Abraham Mutai tweeted- “The sentencing of Wario is a joke. A big joke.”
Dennis Nyambane tweeted: “The sentencing of ex-sports CS Hassan Wario to 6 years in prison or pay a fine of Ksh.3.6 million is proof that our laws need to be revised to be more punitive to such cases.”
Wario’s co- accused, Stephen Soi, described by the court as the principal perpetrator was, however, handed what analysts have described as a deserved harsh punishment. He was sentenced to 12 years in prison or a fine of Ksh. 103 million.
Kenyan Sports ministry has been incessantly dogged with corruption. Corrupt mandarins have always come under fire for shattering the future of sportsmen, but prosecution has always been turned into a game of musical chairs by the authorities.
Whether this conviction will send shivers down the spines of corruption suspects, remains a matter of wait and see.