By Harrison Ikunda
Shall we ever overcome the twin evils of corruption and tribalism in Kenya? Are we getting hopeless on these? Are we a generation that will continue to live under the pangs and effects of sustained corruption?
Well, the allegations and counter allegations of corruption in Kenya are more like a script from Hollywood. Allegations of corruption continue to fill our air. They create the suspicion that we are a nation whose people are suffering from the disease.
However, may I tell you what I think about fighting corruption in Kenya? It remains a script fit for movie stars to explore in future.
The eminent Nigerian novelist and critic, the late Chinua Achebe, tried to dissect the problems of the Nigerian society in a novel – The Trouble with Nigeria. It makes an important read as it closely mirrors the trouble with Kenya and many African states.
To start with, our country has perfected corruption and it has become an almost enduring culture in Kenya.
To make it worse, fighting it is fraught with many risks, whether political, economic, and grave ones. In poor nations like Kenya, corruption is powerful politically, economically and socially. Its tentacles go deep.
Being an anti-corruption Czar is tough
If there is a job that almost leads to failure in Kenya, it is that of being an anti-corruption Czar.
Being the Chairperson of the Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission (EACC) is like a job from hell. There are all indications that the systems, the culture, and conduct around this very important position pre-destine the office holder and the team for failure.
The Kenya Anti-Corruption commission began with Hon John Harun Mwau in 1997. From that time, there have been no signs to show that the officeholder would easily perform.
Several or some of the heads who have graced the position seem to have had good intentions. Yet, knowing Kenya too well, it is almost predictable the far you can get and the period of stay.
The lifespan of holding the position is predictably short. Even in the end, it could damage your career or dent your personality.
Kenyans are sceptical about the war on corruption
I have observed the cynicism greeting the so-called fight against corruption with a lot of interest. In several forums, I have heard sneers that the fight is going nowhere. There is already a lack of confidence in the agency (EACC) that the Constitution tasks with taming the vice.
Sometimes I meet various professionals discussing the issues around corruption. I ask why low morale and lack of confidence exists in such institutions tasked fighting corruption. They are all quick to point at history.
They see nothing to inspire possibilities of taming the vice particularly when it touches the rich or the politically powerful. Many point or allude to the fact that corruption is part of the political bloodstream of Kenya.
The feeling is, with money you pull political strings at various levels of power. Indeed, many say the system fries the ‘small fish’. After all, the small fish cannot afford topnotch legal fees, afford to bribe the justice system, or kill evidence.
If you check our political pronouncements against corruption, they would alarm you. The actions taken so far throughout history and the nature of Kenya’s politics (largely tribal) would easily make a person give up.
If you dare touch somebody from whatever region, some people take it to be a tribal affront. Yet still, there are numerous claims of selective investigations and prosecutions.
Corruption enticing even young people
Kenya is an interesting nation. People want action but they do not want action that would touch ‘one of their own’ no matter how rotten they (their own) could possibly be.
A survey done in the past about young people and corruption shocked many people. It showed that many would not shy away from corruption so long as no one caught them. There are enough precedents to engineer that kind of culture.
The allure of riches from proceeds of corruption is too glittering not to be attractive to these young minds. It indicates also that the value of hard work is diminishing in allure.
How unfortunate it would be for the hardworking or the honest people to miss their rewards. Instead, the rewards benefit those who can get to positions that can enable them to make illicit gains.
That is why the Kenyan police service has become synonymous with corruption practices all through. It enforces laws and has the ability to abuse the authority it yields for corrupt gains.
Nevertheless, should we give up? I think we should not. Bad cultures do not last. At some point, the poisonous nature of such habits like corruption and tribalism will bring a change.
A better culture will emerge to disrupt and consign the bad tendencies to the dustbin of history. It will happen whether we like it or not and it must happen. The current situation is akin to slavery!