The American Writer Suzy Kassem is known for making this remark in one of her books that, “A system is corrupt when it is strictly profit-driven, not driven to serve the best interests of its people.” And no statement so aptly describes the mutation of corruption in Kenya as that. If you look at what is now commonly referred to as tenderprenureship in Kenya in light of this statement then you will see how corruption has metamorphosed. But is the situation hopeless? Certainly not; we can still slay this giant.
While corruption exists in many forms and is difficult to really rid it all at once. Nonetheless it’s easy to identify corruption in public places and offices, and that is where the fight should begin. If only Kenyans really cared about corruption more than their tribe and where power leans in government and other elective offices then the fight could have significant impact.
The best strategy to fight corruption is the period just before campaigns. The next 10 months before the 2017 election would be the ideal time if we meant business. If we get anti-corrupt leaders we’ll be on the right track to winning this war. Here are five ways to ensure we end up with leaders free of corruption.
First, Political Parties – those that truly have the best interest of its people – should only nominate or elect candidates who have publicly declared their wealth. The EACC should insist that the wealth declared include that of family members too; as that is how they normally dupe us-transferring wealth to their children and family members and thus avoiding public scrutiny. This should also be published and easily accessible for comparison when term ends.
Secondly, elected Members of County Assemblies (MCAs) should not under any circumstance transact with any county government because of conflict of interest. As for the MPs, Senators and Governors, the same applies, and including the national government. This should not only apply to commissioners of influential bodies like EACC but also all top government officers. This would greatly hinder corruption resulting from conflict of interest scenarios.
Thirdly, tighten academic requirements for elected leaders; particularly legislators. Law making requires a sharp mind. Mzalendo’s annual research on MPs performance in Parliament has revealed that quality of debates was higher at the Senate where majority have sound academic records. While there has not been a research to ascertain the quality of debates at the County Assembly level, media reports and constant wrangles among them including fist fights are quite telling of the dire situation. Anybody with money – regardless of how he got it – can run for elections; including a village idiot who inherited it. We should pay people for quality debates not the fights and appetite for corruption we see in the County Assemblies.
The fourth thing we need is to take Chapter Six of the Constitution which focuses on integrity seriously. Anyone who has ever been named in a corruption scandal should not run for office unless the said issue has been unequivocally resolved. Already individuals linked with the NYS saga and other grand corruption cases have declared interest in elective offices. If Kenyans were serious about Chapter six, they wouldn’t have the guts to make a public appearance in the name of campaigns anywhere on Kenya’s green earth.
Lastly, and perhaps one of the most important things Kenyans should do is to tone down on religion. It’s the ironically the gateway to thievery. As a person once cleverly described the situation in Africa; in Kenya people pray (read prey) before they eat (public wealth). Religion rather than standing up for the truth and justice has been used to propagate injustice and justify wickedness. Indeed as Phil Zuckerman explains in his book: Society without God: What the Least Religious Nations Can Tell Us, religious nations are the most corrupt.
Let us not elect anyone based on how many times he can quote the Holy book or show his Holy ways. Instead, let us vote based on tangible track record – word and deed. Let us vote in people who mean what they say and say what they mean. People who represent Kenyans best interests.