By Koigi Wamwere
It beats reason and logic that every day we write and read about corruption in Kenya. Yet, the monster continues to grow and spread its tentacles everywhere.
However, maybe we fail to eradicate corruption because we fight it as mad people do. That is, using corrupt people to fight graft and expecting corruption to end.
In simple terms, corruption is nothing but theft or robbery of money. It is theft of moral values, innocence and integrity, and getting away with it. Therefore, fighting corruption is recovering what people have lost to thieves and thievery, softly called corruption.
To recover what people have lost to thievery, thieves cannot fight and eradicate corruption. As the Kikuyu proverb says, “If you look for your lost animal with the thief who stole it, you cannot find it.”
Why we have lost the war on corruption
It is because Kenyans have been entrusting thieves to fight thievery that we have completely failed to eradicate corruption. It increases and gets stronger by the day despite all the noise leaders make to condemn it. Precisely, they do not mean it.
We daydream of the day we expect the corrupt leadership to eradicate corruption. Indeed to eradicate corruption, leaders must be clean. They must champion the war against corruption because they have resources to fight graft, which other people do not have.
Nevertheless, corruption thrives in Kenya because of two things. First, rather than have clean leaders they are dirty and corrupt. Second, instead of fighting corruption, they embrace it as a means of making themselves rich and powerful.
We see leaders becoming extremely wealthy very quickly in private and public sectors. They are nothing but thieves and robber barons. Yet, we rely on them to eradicate corruption.
When we fight corruption, we must never forget that it has its beneficiaries. There are its disciples and its victims, the latter who hate it.
Why top leaders nominate the corrupt
Many times, we see top leaders nominate beneficiaries of corruption into institutions of fighting corruption. The aim is to conceal and perpetuate corruption. More so, when they fail to nominate victims of corruption, it is because the latter will fight corruption.
Top leaders never nominate victims of corruption into institutions with mandate to fight corruption. The leaders’ real intention is to subvert the fight against corruption. More so, they use anti-corruption institutions to conceal and protect corruption and the corrupt.
Past and present Kenyan governments have never intended to fight corruption. This ranges from the regimes of Jomo Kenyatta to those of Moi, Kibaki, and now Uhuru.
At independence, poverty, ignorance, and disease became the nation’s key problems. Yet, more pressing problems did not make it to the list of the key national problems. They include:
- bad leadership,
- bad governance system,
- intellectual poverty,
- negative ethnicity,
- subversion of nationalism, and
- lack of a national vision.
Yet elimination of the three key problems depended on the elimination of the more pressing problems.
The excuse for not fighting corruption
Indeed, Kenyatta laid the foundation of future corruption when he accepted implementation of the report of Ndegwa Commission. It allowed civil servants and leaders to do business while mildly warning them that government would not protect them if they got caught in corruption – “my bird hide, if you get caught, you are not mine.”
Ultimately, Kenyatta and other governments mostly protected Kenyatta’s ‘birds’ when they were caught dipping their long fingers into the public kitty or earning business tenders corruptly.
Often, the excuse of lack of evidence becomes the reason for failure to prosecute civil servant thieves.
However, Kenyan jails would not have enough space to hold corrupt leaders and civil servants. That is, if we could use the evidence in the reports of Public Accounts of Committee of Parliament and reports of the Controller of Budget and the Auditor General to prosecute corruption.
Failure to prosecute the corrupt in government and private sector is not due to lack of evidence against corruption. Rather, it is due to lack of political will to prosecute the corrupt.
After coming to power, President Uhuru opened a presidential website where people could report corruption. It tells a lot about presidential lack of political will to prosecute corruption because, probably, most anti-corruption information sent to this website has not led to the prosecution of the corrupt.
War against corruption is a hoax
The so-called war against corruption in Kenya seems to be a war to emasculate and subvert institutions that the constitution mandates to fight graft.
Without defending PAC and EACC against allegations of corruption, one wonders how we can fight corruption. That is, if we disband anti-corruption institutions and appoint others to take their place for reasons other than history, commitment, and passion to fight corruption.
In Kenya, corruption is not on the retreat. It is getting bolder. Equally, the corrupt are not facing the law. They are winning elections and capturing control of parliament, the government, and judiciary.
In Kenya, we should not underrate and ignore corruption. It is a foe to fear because it is getting stronger and craftier by the day. From institutions of government, parliament, and judiciary, corruption is capturing control of Kenyan economy.
More so, it is capturing government power. It is also breaking the moral fiber of the nation by controlling social institutions, schools, and churches. Above all, through public admiration and support for graft, corruption has taken over the political leadership of the land.
We must never forget that when we lose our moral values to greed, we lose the war against corruption. Indeed, the fight against corruption is a fight for moral values.
To eradicate corruption, we must reject the logic of negative ethnicity. We must reject the belief that when leaders are corrupt, it is the turn of their communities to eat.
If thieves enhance corruption, only progressive leadership will eradicate corruption in Kenya. Anything else is an illusion.