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In Kenya, there is honor among thieves!

BY DR. M.Y. Elmi


Dr. Elmi

Dr. Elmi

When Kenya’s Independence was born in 1963, unknown to us it had a “twin brother” called corruption. Kenya as a Country grew and developed in all spheres of socio-politic and economic. Its fame and respect among nations increased beyond our borders thanks to its gallant sons and daughters who worked so hard to achieve this huge stride in fifty years. To achieve this immense success some had to pay the ultimate price, their lives. In fifty years Kenya is sovereign state and respectable in the house of nations.

The twin brother was also growing in strengthen and influence and was ingrained in the national fabric and developed international connections, strong defense mechanism that can fight very viciously, any attempt to eradicate it from the host government of the day. The “twin brother” also developed unparalleled parasitic skills to survive any application of anti-parasitic agents which at times have life threatening consequences to the host.

Mega corruption and scandals has been very common in all government of the day from independence to date. From KANU to jubilee Governments, all Governments have had it’s share of mega corruption scandals from land grabbing during Jomo’s era, The Goldenberg of Moi , the Angoleasing of Kibaki , and now the jubilee Government which is just one year old is up to its neck in scandals to mention but a few, standard railway gauge , the hustlers jet , the laptop etc.

These mega scandals are planned and executed by thieves who are either in the government or in cohort with national or international thieves, who are doing business with government. The money involved in these scandals is colossal amount, if property used would have developed the county and reduced substantially the poverty of its people.

Kenya is rated as one of the most corrupt nations in Africa currently surpassing Nigeria. This rating has affected the development of the country because it has reduced the level of attracting investment due to increase in the cost of doing business by both local and international investors. As a result, the gap between the rich and poor has widened many folds. The poverty levels have increased with resultant disentrancement and dissatisfaction among the poor, raising their anger that is likely to explode in either ethnic or class manifestations.
Why is the eradication of corruption in Kenya difficult? Yet there are sufficient instruments in place, in the legal system to deal with this surge. This is because, all the important organs of the government who are empowered constitutionally to eradicate corruption are themselves rated the most corrupt institutions year in year out, the police, the judiciary, the parliament etc The new constitution has reformed the Judiciary through the introduction of the Judiciary Service Commission which vetted and appointment one of the best legal minds as the chief justice Dr. Willy Mutunga and he is on record saying corruption is far from over in the judiciary.

The police reforms has had no meaningful results in the fight against corruption in fact the police is rated the most corrupt institution in the County. The creation of bicameral parliaments and devolved governments has unfortunately strengthened and increased corruption at all levels of governance. For corruption to end there must be deliberate engagement with the beneficiaries of corruption. The direct beneficiaries of corruption are the political elites who have over the years enriched themselves and ascended to power through corruptly gained wealth and ensured that, anti-corruption systems do not works, the laws are either bent or blinded in favor of corruption.

The British High Commissioner Edward Clay once said while giving scathing anti -corruption speech citing Angoleasing “state officials are were eating like gluttons and vomiting over our shoes”. Once in power the anti-corruption cruisers of yesterday become ardent defenders of corrupt people. Like Karaitu Murungi an icon of the second liberation and a renowned lawyer once described Angoleasing scandal while defending the NARC Government “ A scandal that never was” and vilified the anti-corruption heroes like John Githongo into exile.

In order to slay the dragon of corruption in Kenya, there must be change of mindset of the people of Kenya. They must develop the right culture and attitude that loathes corruption in all its forms. The people of Kenya must begin by electing leadership of high integrity and take stock of the wealth of these leaders during election. The people must refuse bribes during election, because eradication of corruption requires immense political good will which cannot be provided by leaders who found their way to leadership through corruption.

The greatest mega corruptions is yet to come from the devolved governments because there are no commensurate supervision of the immense resources sent to county governments particularly the formerly marginalized counties of North Eastern Province where there are no adequate structures to support the oversight authorities and being away from the glare of the national and international watchdog systems the corruption fat cats are having a field day.

Many Anglojiir scandals are on the ways in the county governments of Kenya particularly the County of Wajir. These scandals will be bigger and better planned than Angoleasing unless appropriate measures are put into place immediately. Its known corruption is disease that can kill and it has killed more Kenyans than HIV, terrorism and malaria all combined. All evils in this country including poverty, terrorism, illiteracy, hunger etc exist because of corruption. Kenya is wealthy country with abundance in resources but due to corruption its people are hungry and thirsty, the roads are dusty, the hospitals have no medicine and the health workers are poorly paid and overworked, the schools are dilapidated, the teachers are hungry and angry all because of corruption.

There are sufficient legislations, guidelines, polices and organs in the government of Kenya to fight corruption but what is absent is the political will which will never be available because the political elites are the greatest beneficiary of corruption. Corruption is living organism which has developed strong defense and self-healing mechanism in cases of trauma. Corruption will degrade our nationhood, our leaders will be ostracized and our collective dignity will be eroded.

It’s for this reason the people of Kenya must fight corruption overzealously, their actions must be collective effort, deliberate, focused and with military precision. We need to fight corruption with zeal with which we fought for independence and the second liberation for there is no greater enemy than corruption in Kenya.

Corruption is gaining in strength and mega scandals keep coming back from grave to all subsequent governments because there is honor among thieves in Kenya. The can’t pay wouldn’t pay slogan of Angoleasing of the pre-Uhuruto government was just a political gimmick just like the performance contracting and wealth declaration policies which only exist in paper.

The paupers of yesterday become the billionaires of today immediately after ascending to lucrative political office. To the people of Kenya only you can eradicate corruption from this country, not the current leaders.


The writer is Director of Garissa Campus, Mount Kenya University and a senior scholar in University of Lusaka


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