Economist David Ndii says all politicians accused of corruption should be given amnesty.
Speaking on TV47’s weekly political show Pundits’ Night, Dr Ndii also explained his political bromance with Deputy President William Ruto, a man he once said he could not work with until he “surrenders Weston, ADC Mutara Ranch, returns his share of the plunder and tells us the truth about Eurobond.”
QUESTION: What has changed, Dr David Ndii?
“Nothing,” he said, appearing on the show via video link. “This is my idea of a roadmap, that considers terms of engagement not with Ruto but what I saw as realignment. The first order of business we need to do is to agree to defend the Constitution and democracy. Second common ground is that we must have a free and fair election in 2022. Electoral failure undermines the economy. On those things, it doesn’t matter what somebody’s history is. I have my own history, my own baggage. We might disagree on everything else but we have some common grounds as people living in the same society.”
“William Ruto is not unique,” added Dr. Ndii. “I really don’t see what the people are making a fuss about.”
For clarity, we reproduce sections of the interview verbatim:
My position, which I have articulated, is that it’s time for us to talk in the context of transition justice, drawing a line between past corruption because I don’t think we gonna be able to allow our institutions to fight corruption if we keep having this vicious cycle of weaponising corruption for politics. If we can agree and I am for an amnesty on past corruption on everyone including Ruto for reasons that I have explained…If we can agree on that, then we can talk about potential for co-operating on elections. That remains my position. But it hasn’t been taken up by the people that I think should push that agenda.
Ndii says the idea of amnesty for corruption suspects in powerful political positions started at the time of President Daniel Arap Moi’s transition in 2002.
I remember us putting this agenda when Moi was leaving. Because what happens is, when you have transitions, and you have people who have corruption issues, and you have other people who want to come to power and they fear that they will go after them for political reasons, you end up with this cycle and you do not deal with the problem. I believe time has come for us if we are going to allow our institutions that are supposed to fight corruption to be independent for us to draw a line with past corruption because so long as we have powerful people with skeletons in their closets, corruption will always fight back.”
His comments drew a flurry of reactions online. US-based law scholar Prof. Makau Mutua:
Ndii however says this is his personal politics, and doesn’t see “what people are making a fuss about.
Ndii also explained the bottom-up economic approach that is being fronted by DP Ruto and his loyalists. “It is not a new idea. I have propounded that idea for more than 20 years.”
He said it was contained in the NARC Economic Recovery Strategy Paper, which we wrote in 2003.
Giving a bit of history, Dr Ndii said the idea dates back to the early 1970s when the International Labour Organization wrote a report on employment incomes and inequality in Kenya. The ILO highlighted the “disconnect between the beneficiaries of economic policy and the structure of the workforce as well as the economy.
“It’s a paradigm that was predicted a long time ago and has become relevant over time. I have been advocating it with varying degrees of success and when William Ruto said he’d like to run of this platform I said ‘absolutely’. That’s the way to go,” added Dr Ndii.
The structure of the Kenyan economy is dominated by micro-enterprises. 85 percent of the workforce is in MSMEs. But if you look at the people who have captured the economic policy, its the people we call the private sector – the corporatised economy; it employs only 10 percent of the workforce. So there is misalignment between where workforce and resources are, where you can actually generate most growth and the people to whom policy is captive, whose main interest is maximising returns on capital.