Ambassador Kyle McCarter’s Remarks for the
Kenya Editors Guild Press Club
March 26, 2019
Director of Public Prosecutions Noordin Haji,
Members of the diplomatic community,
Ladies and gentlemen of the media,
And assembled guests,
Thank you for inviting me to the first Press Club meeting for 2019. It’s my pleasure to sit among some of the most distinguished journalists in Kenya.
The United States is proud to support the activities of the Kenya Editors’ Guild. The Guild is conducting invaluable work to train media professionals in investigative and ethical journalism. Our 20 million shilling grant supports the Guild to ensure accurate and impartial reporting, building the foundation for a truly independent media. Just saying the word million reminds me of what we are here to speak about today – Corruption. With a capital C. A famous Senator from Illinois once said. “A million here, a million there, pretty soon, you’re talking real money.”
Yes, the theme for this press club meeting “Media and Corruption” is timely as Kenya intensifies its fight against corruption at all levels. I’m looking forward to hearing from Director of Public Prosecutions Noordin Haji. In fact, on my desk I keep a copy of the printed list of all investigations currently ongoing. Bwana Haji, you are a busy man. Too busy. We must succeed in ending corruption so you can have some rest. Shaguli mingi. Alafu utaweza kupumzika.
I read the headlines you write about the cost of that fight. But there’s no greater value than a democracy free from graft. A country without graft is able to use its resources to benefit all the people, not just a few. Based on your media reporting, the cost of corruption could cover 100% of the cost of the Big Four. Which will it be? Gains for individuals or gains for all?
But the Director of Public Prosecutions cannot do this alone. Nor can government do it alone. They cannot succeed without you. The media is needed now more than ever to continue exposing cases of corruption and to stand on the right side of history. The United States is Kenya’s strong partner in this fight, but every Kenyan now needs to reject corruption wherever you see it. As the great Illinois statesman Abraham Lincoln once said, “Be sure to put your feet in the right place, then stand firm.”
I will stand firm against corruption and impunity and so must you. No longer should corruption rob the good people of Kenya of the well-deserved benefits of a robust economy, democracy, and dependable institutions of law and order.
The challenge in front of all societies today, including the United States and Kenya, is to have some crucial conversations. Challenging conversations to address the need for reconciliation among races and tribes. Conversations about a more transparent, accountable, and less corrupt government that delivers justice and opportunity to the people it serves.
I urge the media to shield itself from graft. You must resist attempts by those who want to influence you in an unethical way. I urge each of you to do your part to dismantle the culture of corruption. Together we will make a stand and we will make a difference.
May God bless the people of both Kenya and the United States of America as we work side by side.