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Last Updated: Monday, 19 July, 2004, 16:53 GMT 17:53 UK
Are UK Kenya envoy's comments justified?
British high commissioner to Kenya, Edward Clay
The UK high commissioner in Kenya has said he regrets causing any offence following comments he made on government corruption.

Edward Clay claimed that corruption had cost Kenya some $188m since President Mwai Kibaki took office in 2002.

He said that corrupt official were "eating like gluttons" and "vomiting on the shoes" of donors.

He suggested that aid to Kenya could again be cut off - as it was under former President Daniel arap Moi.

What do you think of Edward Clay's comments? Are they justified? Should diplomats use such strong language in public? Or do western envoys still treat African countries as colonies?

This debate is now closed. Thank you for your comments.


The following comments reflect the balance of opinion we received:

Mr Clay is the embodiment of a general indiscipline by the British when addressing poor countries' problems.
Mwenda Lairumbi, Edinburgh, UK

The truth hurts.
R Harrison, Calgary, Canada

The Kenyan authorities may have been right to admonish Commissioner Clay on his choice of language, but the government must get to the bottom of this scandal. Why keep asking for development aid from the western governments if the said money ends up in politicians' pockets? The Kenyan people must join Mr Clay in demanding accountability and transparency in this issue. Those found responsible must in turn be prosecuted, otherwise the donors have a right to shout.
Dr David Apiyo, Orlando, USA

We seem to be more concerned with their bruised egos
Ben Sebitosi, Cape Town

I suggest that the High Commissioner used glutton for luck of a stronger word. The greed of African political elite is indescribable. Instead of discussing the impoverishing consequences we seem to be more concerned with their bruised egos.
Ben Sebitosi, Cape Town, South Africa

Thank you Mr Clay, you called a spade a spade, given that you have approached these guys diplomatically but they never listen to you, but to lie. He made his comments in order to be heard, and the bad deals should exposed, for the benefit of the poor Kenyans.
Kenyaluk Arap Kandie, Washington DC, USA

Most Kenyans would commend the statements by Mr Clay, because no one in the Kenyan government would have done the same.
Simon Pulei, UK/Kenya

The man should table the evidence or shut up. In Iraq, the accusation was weapons of mass destruction and they passed the cruel judgement. Now it is a young government in Kenya doing everything to undo 24 years of misrule and corruption. It appears elements in Blair's government never learn lessons.
James Mathenge, Kigali, Rwanda

Most of us are fed up with corruption but Mr Clay's comments are quite repulsive and without diplomacy. If he has substantiated evidence, he should learn to use his diplomatic training in communicating (if he has any at all) instead of the blanket insult which may result in ridicule to all officials, even those in good standing.
Rose Lintini, Abilene, USA

Next time, kindly mention their names
Oby, Lagos, Nigeria

The envoys comments are justified and I thank him for exposing them. This is the only way forward for Africa. Next time, kindly mention their names. Corruption is very endemic in Africa. This is very sad.
Oby, Lagos, Nigeria

In my opinion, Edward Clay's comments are probably justified, but as with every other Kenyan scandal, the facts will get clouded in the ensuing outrage. The Kenya government will be so busy complaining about Mr Clay's unethical behaviour, that the issue at hand - alleged government corruption will be deflected - until the next million dollar scandal breaks. If a Kenyan had made the same statement (and many of us are of the same opinion as Mr Clay), what would the government have done?
Wambui Ngugi, Nairobi, Kenya

Britain is a leading investor in Kenya, and it is right to point out when things are going wrong. Issues raised should be addressed not language used.
Alfred, Cape Town

Stop the colonial mentality
WSK Wasike, Kenya/Denmark

Since Mr Clay is unable to provide evidence and name names, can he deny that his language unmasked UK's pain for loss of the Empire to real owners? This reminds us of the current Zimbabwe situation. Surely, how many Africans can be allowed to migrate to UK, design new property law, and then proceed to apply it to the extent of owning the best of UK land? Stop the colonial mentality and apologize!
WSK Wasike, Kenya/Denmark

It is within his right, as a donor representative, to demand action against those stealing what would otherwise have translated to uplifting people's standard of living. A majority of Kenyans only hear and have never benefited from the aid. It's about time that Clay spoke openly since the government would have hidden his concerns from the public was he to use diplomatic channels. We are simply tired of government officials fattening their bellies at the expense of lay people.
Mwendapole Wa Mashada, Nairobi, Kenya

Ambassador Clark was right in raising the issue of corruption in Kenya. However; the manner in which the issue was raised was not appropriate for a diplomat.
Dr Otieno RJ Ndong'a, Gaberone, Botswana

His comments are not justified until he names names to back himself up, Moreover you cannot train a beast and hope to tame it.
Olumuyiwa Adegbesan, London, England.

Clay should have used the right channels to air his views or comments
Njuguna Mwangi, Kenyan/USA
Clay is behaving like a colonial administrator in pre-independent Kenya. His scornful outburst is out of line with his diplomatic status. Clay should have used the right channels to air his views or comments. We'd rather be poor than auction our dignity, which his country had taken from Kenyans during colonial days.
Njuguna Mwangi, Kenyan/USA

The envoy is very right and this is what we, the electorate, have been waiting for from the donors. I am a Kenyan but I work in Tanzania. Corruption is very big in my current government.
Robert Alai, Kigoma, Tanzania

What Mr Clay did was right, in fact he should not have apologised. I am fed up as an African of making excuses for thieving politicians.
Trevor, Freetown, Sierra Leone

I think his best intentions for Kenya justified his comments
Njoroge Kariuki, Nairobi, Kenya
By using "undiplomatic language" Mr Clay has provided the attention that this vice in Kenya desperately requires. In all fairness to the high commissioner he has made this point diplomatically to the government many times over the last few weeks. I think his best intentions for Kenya justified his comments.
Njoroge Kariuki, Nairobi, Kenya

Edward Clay wilfully behaved unethically and deliberately broke protocol. Some people will say he is brave, others will say he is uncivilised.
Mark McBeth, Harare, Zimbabwe

As Mr Clay has pointed out we should not be discussing the language but instead focussing on the issue. This is the only way we shall bring down corruption. The earlier it is pointed out the better, before the corrupt leaders dig in their heels. I do not see anything wrong with the language as he stated a fact, these guys are gluttons.
Henry Kimani, Nairobi, Kenya

The UK High Commissioner to Kenya is very right. The same applies to Zambia where our politicians say there is no money in the country while they move around in very expensive motor vehicles and eat like gluttons and vomit on their shoes in front of the electorate they have no interest in servicing, except to look after their well-fed Cheshire cat bodies.
Patrick Mfula, Ndola, Zambia

There are diplomatic ethics to adhere to
Kevin Waweru, Manchester, UK
The UK envoy to Kenya is within his right to express dissatisfaction at the level of corruption in the Government today, in fact I very much agree with him. However, there are diplomatic ethics to adhere to and channels through which to express one's concerns. I'm of the opinion the envoy should, in future, endeavour to observe such diplomatic ethics and use available channels to voice any concerns.
Kevin Waweru, Manchester, UK

Even if his information is correct, he crossed the line, and certainly did nothing to advance the need to have Kenya clean up its act by using such injudicious language.
Nigel Darwent, Trinidad and Tobago

Mr Clay, as indeed any stakeholder in Kenya's development process is justified to express his concerns if he or she is not happy with the way things are going and the expectations arising from what the government promised. What I am worried about was the use of abrasive and clearly derogatory language, especially when it comes from a diplomat of his calibre.
Eric Nyakagwa, Nairobi, Kenya

It is about time somebody named and shamed some of the corrupt individuals in government in Africa!
Helen Kerali, Ugandan in Washington

Commissioner Clay was more than right to bring this to the world media's attention
Ady Livingstone, London, UK
I have lived in Kenya, both under Moi and Kibaki, and I must say that my first impressions were that this theft of money from the real people that needed it was being dealt with after Kibaki was sworn into office. I now have my suspicions. After delaying the draft constitution yet again, do we have another Moi on our hands? Commissioner Clay was more than right to bring this to the world media's attention. It's up to Kibaki now to prove his innocence.
Ady Livingstone, London, UK

Mr Clay's action should be commended, as the greatest threat to the Africans, is not Aids or HIV, but corruption by public officials. Ed Clay's comment is justified, he is courageous.
Ben Obaretin, Houston, Texas

If foreign and particularly British taxpayers' money is going to be donated to Kenya the British taxpayer needs to have envoys that have the courage to speak as Clay has done even if the tone was pretty abrasive and down to earth.
Peter Lindstrom, Arusha, Tanzania

If he can state the amount of money lost by corruption so accurately, then he surely must have some evidence, and should produce it, as requested. If he has none, then he is a stupid man and should know better.
Chas Knight, Duxford, UK

Three cheers for Mr Clay! He only said what we all know, right? We need more people like him who will speak up against corruption.
Matt Johnson, Guam, USA

A government official should have acceptable evidence if making such statements. The "collective" understanding of Kenya and most other African states being very corrupt may not be enough to warrant a public commissioner statement. Not that I do not believe him to be right but the evidence? We have recent famous cases where the collective frenzy has overruled the lack of evidence.
Miklos Nomad, Gyor, Hungary




SEE ALSO:
UK Kenya envoy 'regrets insult'
15 Jul 04  |  Africa


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