Fighting corruption in Kenya equivalent to chasing mirage
Corruption is prolific in Kenya. Trying to look at the telltale signs, there is no time it is going to wane let alone ‘evaporate’.
You wake up one morning and after your usual routine preparations before you face the day, you check the latest news via your phone. And the latest tweet screams at you, Revealed — How Top Fund Officials Looted Millions for Non-Existent ‘Consultancies‘, another one, How State ‘paid’ ghost volunteers Sh180m…
If it is not the government level, it is at the corporate level. If it is not at the corporate level, it is at the individual level. You are either a main or a minor actor.
If you are neither the main nor the minor actor, do not think you are lucky. You will be the victim.
Ask President Uhuru Kenyatta why so. Though he says he is fighting it, have a candid talk with him. He will tell you corruption in the country is almost a lifestyle.
Forget about Deputy President William Ruto. Forget about Aden Duale who denied about corruption in government yesterday but said today that corruption should be declared a national disaster. Forget about the opposition who only yap because they are not in government to eat.
Corruption gets worse day by day.
We saw Goldenberg, Anglo-Leasing and Grand Regency, just to mention the recent cases but we have been cozy about it. Right now, we are talking about Eurobond and the sundry corruption cases in state departments that sum up to billions.
I am not surprised we will silence after much hype on the need to fight corruption, some to resign and face the law.
As usual, the so government will appoint a commission to investigate the cases. After much probe, the members will pocket sufficient income and conclude that none was culpable.
Served chicken, goat
Picture this. You join a board or a committee of a government parastatal. As you continue to deliberate over the mega project, you begin to hear a language that you ‘understand’ but it is thinly veiled as a transparent, unsoiled and permissible offer.
After every meeting, ‘chicken’ is always served. In most cases, the chair and the titled board members will eat the juicy and fleshy parts. Once the project is complete, they slaughter an ‘ox’ if not a ‘goat’.
They are those that will take the hind shank, rump, ribs, the plate, fore shank and the sirloin.
No sooner the project is launched than you settled down to eat your ‘reward’ as they call it, the press screams about the inflated budget and unaccounted money.
That is why you will read ‘so and so ate the goat’. Most probably, the one who was given the hooves and the skin blew the whistle.
Last week, I happen to meet my friend while perambulating within Nairobi CBD. We decided to gulp some drinks as we recalled our childhood memories. An hour later, he received a phone called that his lorry was caught up along Naivasha-Nakuru Highway by the police. I decided to accompany him.
Once there, the policed warmly shook our hands and straightaway knew the owner. The driver and the turn-boy became relaxed. As they began to negotiate, my friend allowed me to listen in to the conversation with one of the police officers.
The officer said the lorry was carrying excess load and the driver was speeding beyond the maximum speed. Moreover, the driver disobeyed police orders to stop when they gestured.
After a few exchanges, my friend muttered smiling, “Bwana Officer, this is negligible.” But the officer insisted that the law must be applied equally regardless of the scale of the offence.
After a few more exchanges, my friend made a statement that seemed to be more ‘logical’. He said smiling but with an authority, “Bwana officer, najua uko kazi kutafuta unga kama Mkenya yeyote.” (Mr. Officer, I know you are at work to earn a living just like any other Kenyan). The police seemed to be more attentive.
“Ukisimamisha biashara hivi,” my friend went on, “Na unipeleke kotini, utakuwa unanizuia kupata unga na autafaidi. Kwa vile unatafuta unga kama mimi, niache niende zangu.” (If you impede business in this manner and you take me to the court, you will be denying me my livelihood and you will gain nothing).
The officer kept looking at him. They moved a step away. “Unatafuta na mimi natafuta, shika hizi,” (You are working to earn a living, so am I, take this) my friend said has he plowed into his pocket and shook officer’s hand. The handshake worked a ‘magic’.
We Tolerate Corruption
If you are not endorsing the vice, you are merely hurling empty abuses that will never challenge it.
If you are fighting it hard, chances are high that you have made a career out of it. You sit in a posh office always monitoring its trends and drafting strategies to counter it but you know very well that the strategies will not deter the beast of corruption. You are just meeting your job description.
Let the media, the civil society, the opposition and Kenyans of goodwill yap about corruption. It is here to stay. Ask me. We are a nation that tolerates corruption. It is almost embedded in our DNA.
The vice now a virtue by the selected few continue to post impressive ‘performance’.
When you yap that it is the Kenyan government condoning corruption, whose government? Is it not the one you elected?
Who is the government? It is just a system set up by wicked mortals not ready to be held accountable except finger pointing after licking their fingers.
The worst case is when your ‘own’ is accused of the sleaze and you cry foul to an extent of wanting to riot that he/she has been victimized.
Time to Eat Mindset
The mindset that revolves around Kenyans especially those in power is that it is their time to eat since you are not sure of tomorrow. If you are a politician, you have no guarantee that the electorate will spare you in the forthcoming elections.
If you are a government official, say a cabinet secretary, principal secretary, a parastatal chief or any other civil servant, you can be fired any time even if the president might have appointed you out of political gain. Even when they fire you, at least you have amassed ‘something’.
You will only survive working in the government if you condone corruption.
Therefore, when you have the opportunity that many are salivating for, you eat as much as you can. Bad luck when the owner notices you. But good luck since the owner is a toothless dog.
As we drove back, I was silent but my friend kept on arguing how money is a necessity in the country.
We all need money to survive. Ask the politician. He will not survive the next elections without sufficient money. The priest needs money to live large that is why he will coerce you to give to earn a miracle. That is why you will give him money to get more money. Police too needs money to enjoy life as his pay is meager and he can die any time.
“My friend it is the business of money. Corruption runs this country. It is powered by money.”
Tell me, how easy is it to fight corruption?