Let’s criminalize and ostracize the corrupt, for a better Kenya

Posted by on 27th May 2017

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A family that prays together stays together so the adage goes, but in Kenya only those who prey together stay together. Really, consider the political dynamics in this country and foes in a previous election year end up friends in the next elections regardless of how their decisions affected negatively the common Mwananchi. It’s never that serious for them. Perhaps that’s why the ongoing debate on integrity is so important. In the end an election is a very serious thing for the rest of us.

It’s not clear when we started taking important things so casually. For a country that congregates dutifully each year to have leaders from across political divide come together in prayer for the nation, you’d think integrity is a very clear matter but no, we need the courts to tell us the difference between good and bad. The truth is relative.

And while we’re on integrity. There’s no time in our independent political life that the phrase, “innocent until proven guilty,” has ever been so misused. More interesting is the fact that police gun down kids in broad day light and others go missing only for their bodies to resurface in some dumpsite or river. Meanwhile those stealing millions from us can keep coming back through elections to continue stealing because? They’re innocent until the court proves otherwise.

And if you’re familiar with criminal law; the rule of thumb is to make sure the case is delayed by filing different motions depending on the circumstance. Delays makes it easy to tamper with evidence or witnesses and by the time the matter is before court it falls like a broken twig.

This week the media has had Chapter Six of the Constitution dissected by experts following the release of the 20 aspirants that the civil society recommended be barred from running in the August polls. A section of the group of 20 dubbed #RedCard20 on social media have come out to rubbish the campaign. But there’s nothing surprising there. What’s disturbing are those Kenyans whose life has become unbearable directly or indirectly through corruption but have the audacity to attack the National Integrity Alliance (NIA) for ‘compiling a list that was not all inclusive.’

Let’s understand these people’s logic. They don’t disagree that these people are crooks-because the evidence is overwhelming. No, their issue is, there are others missing. Picture this: You come home one day and you find some of your household goods stolen. After sometime a group of people come to you with names of those who stole from you and exactly what they stole. However, there’s still a lot of your stuff still missing. Under ordinary circumstances, shouldn’t you be thanking these people? Would you tell them to shut up because there are some of your prized items not yet recovered? But that’s the message we’re sending when we attack champions of integrity.

Our political biases have made us so blind that if truth walked up to us and introduced itself we would still ask for proof beyond reasonable doubt. And even religious leaders who are supposed to be at the fore front on integrity are themselves unsure. Forget the Bishops who called a conference to ask politicians to stop politicizing the maize scandal. The prayer breakfasts have been something of a ritual with little or no bearing in the country’s moral compass. Last year a Kenyan remarked about the prayer breakfasts on Daily Nation that “Too much time is consumed eating and also on political bickering.” He advised that the venue should be moved to a national stadium, to make it more inclusive to all Kenyans and more about prayer than the delicious food served every year.

This year’s National Prayer Breakfast is the 15th since the practice was begun. Interestingly, despite over a decade and a half of joint national prayers, the citizens only seem to get more intolerant of each other as cases of online hate speech become unbearable even for the National Cohesion and Integration Commission (NCIC). Not to mention that every year, a number of politicians will repetitively be in court over an utterance that did not befit their stature in the society. Would the situation be any different if we used these national prayer days to name and shame corrupt people in the society even as we pray for them?

The civil society have gone beyond mere complaining about the corrupt leaders and took a bold step to name and shame these individuals regardless of their political parties or positions in these parties. IEBC has indicated they will have no sacred cows as have the EACC who are set to release their list sometime next week. The rest of us should take cue and make sure only those who pass the integrity test get elected.