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Last Updated: Tuesday, 6 April, 2004, 17:04 GMT 18:04 UK
Daniel Arap Moi
Former president of Kenya Daniel arap Moi
When Africans ask themselves who under-developed their continent, who squandered their resources and left so many of them living on less than a dollar a day, the answer very often is their own leaders.

Now Kenya's new president - elected about fifteen months ago - has promised to unravel the corruption of his predecessor's 24 year long reign. He appointed an army officer to take over the country's police force, clean it up and make it more effective.

Our East Africa correspondent Andrew Harding reported on the corruption trail which many Kenyans believe may lead all the way to the former president Daniel Arap Moi.

ANDREW HARDING:
A government car park in central Nairobi. It looks innocuous. But this is Kenya; scratch the surface and the reality is much more sinister. Behind this soundproof door lies one of Kenya's ugly secrets. Secrets that are finally coming to light.

PETER NDING'O:
FORMER PRISONER:

You are hungry, cold and terrified. In fact you think they want to kill you.

ANDREW HARDING:
Did you think you would make it out of here alive?

PETER NDING'O:
No. I thought they would kill me here.

ANDREW HARDING:
Peter sent a fortnight in this sophisticated underground torture chamber. This was his tiny cell. It was 1986 and Kenya's one party state was busy crushing internal dissent.

PETER NDING'O:
┐they would collect something. Then they put it on my body.

ANDREW HARDING:
Electric shocks.

PETER NDING'O:
Yeah, electric shocks.

ANDREW HARDING:
The guards would then watch and wait until Peter collapsed in a corner. The cell, pitch black and flooded with water.

PETER NDING'O:
Of course I was naked completely.

ANDREW HARDING:
On the walls the scrawled prayers of those who endured this secret hell. In all, more than 150 people were tortured in these cells here. Now when President Moi finally stepped down, a little over a year ago, some people came here with sledge hammers and tried to get rid of the evidence. They didn't succeed. Instead, the victims are now looking for justice from the one man they blame for their suffering. What would you like to see happen to President Moi?

PETER NDING'O:
I would like to see him charged and probably imprisoned for what he did.

ANDREW HARDING:
You hold him personally responsible for your torture and imprisonment?

PETER NDING'O:
Yes, I hold him personally. Actually (inaudible) saying we are not getting our job back. He knew everything that was happening. He knew all about these tortures.

ANDREW HARDING:
These are interesting times for Daniel Arap Moi. After a quarter of a century as Kenya's all-powerful leader he's in retirement. Well, more or less. Today he's opening his new charity to promote peace in Africa.

DANIEL ARAP MOI:
KENYAN PRESIDENT 1978 - 2002:

I look forward to using my experience and knowledge to advance the cause of peace in our region and continent.

ANDREW HARDING:
Moi stepped down peacefully and democratically last year but his legacy is still up for debate. Will he be cherished for the smoothness of his exit? Or will the corruption and the abuses of his era come back to haunt him? Daniel Moi wants to leave the past behind him, but Kenya's new government seems determined to drag all the old skeletons out of the cupboard in order to find out exactly where the buck really stopped during the Moi era. So every morning in Nairobi the crowds file in to watch a judicial inquiry into the Goldenberg Affair. A Moi era corporation scandal of breath taking proportions.

ERIC KOTUT:
FORMER GOVERNOR OF KENYAN CENTRAL BANK:

The evidence is clear. There was a very clear scheme, which is a criminal scheme, to defraud the central bank.

ANDREW HARDING:
The cast of alleged villains reads like a who's who of the Kenyan establishment.

GLADWELL OTIENO:
EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, KENYA TRANSPARENCY INTERNATIONAL:

This is unprecedented. This is a huge landmark in the history of this country. This is a traumatised society. We have gone through two decades, at least, of repression, unbridled looting of our economy. Of increasing poverty. Of spiralling inflation. All of it caused, apparently, by the sort of schemes which we are hearing about today where we are, basically, very, very unscrupulous people schemed how to fleece the country of its resources.

ANDREW HARDING:
So today the public are getting a chance to see justice being done?

GLADWELL OTIENO:
Well, they are certainly getting a chance to hear how injustice was done.

ANDREW HARDING:
The detail emerging is staggering. At its peak Goldenberg was costing Kenya over $2 million a day. The money paid out by the Treasury as compensation for gold and diamond exports which never actually took place. What's more, senior members of the former regime are now starting to point fingers at President Moi himself.

PHILIP MBITHI:
FORMER HEAD OF KENYAN CIVIL SERVICE:

The Head of State was in Mombasa and he telephoned me and told me had been looking for the doctor because there was something he had to do. He told me:
find him and tell him to transfer the 5.8 billion shillings through the central bank.

WILFRED KOINAGE:
FORMER PERMANENT SECRETARY TO TREASURY:

He told me, the President is a very angry with you. This surprised me. I said "why" "you have not finished paying Goldenberg International".

ANDREW HARDING:
This is a very public inquiry. It is making headline news in the papers here almost every day. It has a lot of very rich and powerful Kenyans feeling very nervous indeed, which may be why at least four people involved in the inquiry have been threatened and another six witnesses are under police protection. Goldenberg's heyday was the early 90s. A tense time. Moi's government was moving, reluctantly, towards multi-party democracy. It needed extra cash to fund the ruling party's election campaign.

PROFESSOR TERRY RYAN:
FORMER ECONOMIC SECRETARY:

Moi would undoubtedly in this case have been aware that (?-inaudible) was going to be Goldenberg. That would have been a well understood thing that we were going to be able to use the central bank to finance the political banks, who would finance the campaign.

ANDREW HARDING:
The result of all this corruption? Welcome to the world's biggest slum. Today most Kenyans live in squalor like this. Many believe Goldenberg is at least partially to blame.

PROFESSOR TERRY RYAN:
The magnitudes here, they move into a macro-economic level. They move out of the micro-economics. It's not merely me stealing from my neighbour, but stealing from the nation as a whole. It actually gets to a scale of operation where you create poverty, unemployment and things of this description.

ANDREW HARDING:
Last year a new government swept to power in Kenya on the promise that it would root out corporation at every level. This was their election theme tune.

I am unstoppable.
Unstoppable or fearless.

Since then Kenya has started to change. For instance, the notoriously corrupt, lethal transport system has been cleaned up. The old culture of impunity is being challenged.

UNNAMED MAN:
Our current government, they don't have sympathy with corruption. Those who did it they must be brought to book.

ANDREW HARDING:
Maybe some people in the current government also have some secrets?

UNNAMED MAN:
Maybe they have, but I hope the truth will be known.

ANDREW HARDING:
Would you like to see President Moi take the stand?

UNNAMED MAN:
Yeah, he should be there. I was expecting him to be the first one because he was the leader of the government. He should have been the first witness. To say what happened.

UNNAMED MAN:
I think Mr Moi destroy the country to Goldenberg.

ANDREW HARDING:
You think he destroyed it?

UNNAMED MAN:
Yes.

ANDREW HARDING:
Do you think he will face justice then?

UNNAMED MAN:
Yes, he will. He's supposed to.

ANDREW HARDING:
You think this government is serious about tackling corporation.

UNNAMED MAN:
Yes, it is.

ANDREW HARDING:
The man leading this cleanup is the new President, Mwai Kibaki. He has already hired international investigators to try to track down the missing billions. But he's a frail figure in charge of a shaky coalition. After weeks of trying to get an interview we opted for a more direct approach.

REPORTER:
Mr President can we ask you a question please.

PRESIDENT MWAI KIBAKI:
No, no, no.

REPORTER:
Mr President can we ask you a question, please, the BBC.

ANDREW HARDING:
It didn't work. Has the government struck a secret deal, rewarding Moi for stepping down?

KIRAITU MURUNGI:
MINISTER FOR JUSTICE AND CONSTITUTIONAL AFFAIRS:

We shall wait for the evidence then, thereafter, the law will take its course. If the charges are brought against President Moi you will pursue those?

KIRAITU MURUNGI:
Yes, indeed. If President Moi is prosecuted before a court of law we will pursue the case.

ANDREW HARDING:
Do you think there is any chance of that happening?

KIRAITU MURUNGI:
No, I think it's too early for me. As you know, we appointed a Commission for the Goldenberg inquiry. We are following it very closely. We are waiting for recommendations.

ANDREW HARDING:
Senior officials in your government have suggested there might be an amnesty for former President Moi?

KIRAITU MURUNGI:
Now, I not think that.

ANDREW HARDING:
There is no deal?

KIRAITU MURUNGI:
No deal yet.

ANDREW HARDING:
No deal yet?

KIRAITU MURUNGI:
No.

ANDREW HARDING:
Is a deal being worked on?

KIRAITU MURUNGI:
No.

ANDREW HARDING:
If there is no deal, how come Moi is looking so relaxed? Time to confront him about the allegations being levelled against him.

DANIEL ARAP MOI:
KENYAN PRESIDENT 1978 - 2002:

Torture. I didn't torture. Anybody, if you are talking about what happened during the coup.

ANDREW HARDING:
No, this was after. Hundreds of people say they were tortured by your security forces.

DANIEL ARAP MOI:
If they were tortured why did they not go to court? Because activities which were going on departmentally or whatever.

ANDREW HARDING:
During your rule millions of dollars were stolen it has been acknowledged now. That included senior officials in your government. Did this happen really without any of your knowledge?

DANIEL ARAP MOI:
Of course. How could I know? We were suffering during that period because World Bank, IMF did not help. So I couldn't have -

ANDREW HARDING:
Your own top officials are pointing the finger at you on the witness stand -

DANIEL ARAP MOI:
No. It is only the same person. The same person. To allow billions of shillings verbal.

ANDREW HARDING:
You have no idea how this money went missing?

DANIEL ARAP MOI:
No. I've no idea. I don't have money overseas.

ANDREW HARDING:
Yet you were in charge of -

DANIEL ARAP MOI:
Yes, yes. I was.

ANDREW HARDING:
Many Kenyans feel it is time you came clean and apologised to them about the abuses during your era.

DANIEL ARAP MOI:
Those who are in the government today were also in the government.

ANDREW HARDING:
Are you going to cut a deal with the new government so you get an amnesty so there is no prosecution?... But there he stopped me. Will the full truth ever come out? Today Kenya is torn between the people's desire for justice and a quieter political impulse to leave the turbulent past behind.

This transcript was produced from the teletext subtitles that are generated live for Newsnight. It has been checked against the programme as broadcast, however Newsnight can accept no responsibility for any factual inaccuracies. We will be happy to correct serious errors.



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