Many simply refer to corruption as indubitably the biggest impediment to Kenya’s development. Those who practice it simply term it as the just cause for the sumptuous life they live. Organizations and institutions tasked to counter it call it a live wire while majority of Kenyans intricately link it to the sorry state of nature in the country, the way things are.Corruption is the main cause of abject poverty that has engulfed majority of the citizens of Kenya. However, the irony is that both who engage in it and those who don’t practice it understand that corruption is indeed a bad thing. It simply involves the diversion of public resources for private gain. Since independence, Kenya has been on the receiving end for being tolerant to corruption as evidenced in the mega sagas in the country such as the National Youth Service scandal, The Health Scam, and The Goldenberg Scandal amongst others. It has led to the reduction of foreign aid aimed at uplifting the social status of the people of Kenya.
Evidently, independent reports from both Kenyan Anti-Corruption Agency and the international organizations reports have not only been earth shaking but mind boggling as well. These reports have been able to expose the prevalence of grand corruption that indeed occurs in Kenya. A 2016 Price waters report ranked Kenya as number three most corrupt nation. Recent reports have similarly unearthed massive corruption in the country with Transparency International ranking Kenya as amongst the top 10 most corrupt nations in the world. Indeed, this great nation has been hitting headlines for the wrong reasons. Corruption remains a national security threat despite Kenya being amongst the few African nations that did ratify the United Nations Convention against Corruption, a legally binding document in which Kenya committed to be a zero tolerant nation to corruption.
Corruption is intricately tied to the nature of our economy. It remains an existential threat to the realization of government’s commitment to nurturing and protecting the well-being of each and every citizen and the nation as put forth in the preamble of the constitution. Just as President Putin did recently put it, Kenya seems a cemetery for Kenyans. President Trump buttressing this statement refers to African countries as shithole nations.
The worst disease in Kenya today is corruption. It is a curse which Kenya suffers from. Its scathing effects has been felt in each and every sector of the economy. As a matter of fact, it has been the cause of the deplorable conditions in our roads, the sorry state of our healthcare systems, the dwindling education system, the unemployment, political crises, and the prevalence of impunity, the increased foreign debts and poverty. It is indeed a multifaceted aspect that actually needs to be cured. Most shockingly, fighting corruption remains one of the political tools used each and every election by politicians to assume public office. Each regime before assuming office has talked tough on this enemy of development. After assuming office, they simply wine and dine with the cartels. The promising politicians that Kenyans have pegged hopes on before elections have ironically metamorphosed from nationalists to cartels. At times, through corruptive means, individuals have rigged elections further threatening the thriving of democratic space in Kenya. They have simply turned a deaf ear on the war on corruption. These politicians have ignored the passionate call of the masses that live a life full of ups and downs at the mercy and glory of God.
In exchange of material benefits, individuals and institutions tasked to fight corruption have simply appeared to fight it. They have legalized state sponsored policies that failed in their mandate to hold public servants accountable and responsible. Instead, with the benefits of the corruptive deals, bureaucrats live an opulent lifestyle as the general public cry foul for negligence and betrayal. The only rhetorical questions lingering in their mind is why they do not actually enjoy the rights to development? Does it mean they are not protected by the Kenyan constitution which everyone is theoretically proud of? Why then has the government failed to implement the TJRC report of 2008 that aimed at addressing the social, economic and political challenges that Kenya faces? Does it mean that the state is also an existential threat to her own population?
Under the slogan, “I eat, you eat, we eat, “corruption seems a phenomenon with many folds that for a country like Kenya, it seems a farfetched dream to totally eradicate.However,the impossible is always possible. Kenya simply needs to rethink her strategy to fight this nuisance. At the center of eradicating corruption is the need to emancipate the general public about this menace. It simply demands a change in the mentality and the personality of the people of Kenya. Those who fight corruption should be clean. Their level of integrity in public offices should not be questionable. “When you see corruption, when you see injustice, you speak out, don’t just keep quiet and say it is none of my business”Mahal Shariff notes. The general public therefore has a pivotal responsibility to eradicate this cancer that demands everyone’s attention.
The citizen’s ignorance is indeed the cartels power. If we elect the same politicians every time, that is a very clear message that we indeed don’t need change. Failure to speak out on this menace simply means we support it.We only cry foul about its effects yet we don’t want to challenge it.
Rethinking the nature and effectiveness of our public institutions equally is necessary. It is however important to note that the current institutions, DPP, EACC, DCI have recently waged a recommendable move in this war. Kenyans are eager to eat the fruits. Let it not be that they preach water and drink wine. Transparency and accountability are prerequisites for economic development. Let’s change our mentality, personality and collectively fight corruption.
The writer, KAUDO PHILIP, is currently a student of political science in Maseno.