Last year, former EACC boss admitted to Reuters that Kenya was losing approximately Sh.608 billion to corruption. With over 70 percent of children living in rural areas Sh. 608 billion can build more than 200 ultramodern schools in at least six counties every year. Meaning no government-national or devolved should give an excuse why children are studying under trees or make-shift classes.
The saddest thing is that corruption hurts poor people the most. Given majority of Kenyans are poor one would expect they would be inclined to vote in leaders with clean track records and avoid those associated or alleged to have committed economic crimes, but no. The politicians have choreographed the political show that Kenyans are now propping “their own thieves.” The party primaries saw many politicians with dubious track records or questionable histories get party nominations.
This week has therefore been a sad one for champions of integrity after a number of politicians with corruption cases got the green light from IEBC to vie in the coming August polls. Not to sound too optimistic but the general feeling was the civil society’s redcard20 list coupled with EACC’s list would give IEBC the confidence to realize there was a solid force behind them to bar those who didn’t meet requirements of the integrity threshold but that was not to be. We therefore need to question the criteria used by the IEBC to vet leaders seeing as the evidence was quite overwhelming. Sad to say, the real problem lies with the political parties and the electorate who nominated these individuals in the first place.
Think about it. IEBC will consider themselves having done a successful job if they run a credible election -meaning votes are cast, counted and relayed with as minimal challenges as possible and results announced in a transparent manner. To get to that point, the two main political parties that have a big say on the outcome have to be appeased. Is this why those adversely mentioned in cases involving fraud got cleared, across the political divide?
The other logic is the IEBC may have figured if people cared anything about Chapter Six the politicians with dubious pasts wouldn’t have been nominated. Since IEBC’s key interest is to be perceived as a fair referee ahead of elections; they didn’t want to be overzealous in barring corrupt politicians especially those close to the incumbent and the opposition leader because as this could trigger tensions way ahead of the elections.
In a manner of speaking, this means the IEBC has thrown the ball back to the electorate’s court. And knowing only too well how our politicians work the public up with useless propaganda about the other camp, Kenyans are likely to embrace “our thieves” and hope they bring home the cake. The real tragedy is Kenyans uncaring attitude about corruption in general and how corrupt leadership is affecting us directly or indirectly.
We shall confirm this tragedy in the aftermath of the August polls. Will we stand on the right side of history? Meanwhile it would be worth remembering the cost of corruption. We remain vulnerable to terrorists with porous borders because of corrupt security officers. A report by PWC last year showed economic crimes in our country is 25% above the global average.
When you vote on August 8th, think about the impact of corruption on your daily life – food, water, education, health, housing and security. What these billions could do for the unemployed youth who have turned to crime or the disabled and women who remain poor or the children whose future has been auctioned on account of “your thief”. For once think selfishly in August 8th and stop passing the blame to toothless institutions. The power is in your hands.