273 Members of Parliament were reported to have allegedly looted Sh 4billion from Constituency Development Fund (CDF) in less than one year. Consider that 290 are the total number of elected MPs. But if you think this is appalling, wait for August next year and watch as we vote in the same people back to power. No study has been done to ascertain why we hate ourselves so much to keep repeating this every election year.
Assuming the Sh 4billion squandered by the 273 MPs was divided equally then each MP misappropriated about sh 14.6 million. With that amount each MP would have constructed at least 20 dispensaries in their constituencies complete with a budget for staff kitchenette and sleeping arrangement in case of a shift. This is according to the estimates used to construct Ojwando Community dispensary in Rachuonyo South district. But alas that’s not the case, thanks to corruption.
Meanwhile nearly 20 patients have died following the ongoing doctors and nurses’ strike while another 87 patients escaped from the psychiatric ward. But if blame is to be put where it deserves, these deaths and any injury by the patients who escaped lies squarely with the corrupt officials who would rather steal public funds than find ways to pay hardworking Kenyans. It is really something of a wonder that both the county and national government could not in three years act on the Collective Bargain Agreement (CBA) leading to constant strikes, yet mismanage public funds running to the tune of billions.
The dust had barely settled on the Afya gate scandal where sh 5billion later revised to 3billion was allegedly missing after an internal audit report. More recently the Auditor General’s report revealed brazen theft after reviewing 37 counties where millions were misappropriated. That, counties have enough money to swindle millions of tax payer’s money but not enough to pay doctors and nurses is enough reason to put the rising number of deaths and injuries squarely on their shoulders. Lack of priority and appetite for theft of public funds is the reason for the current deadlock. We can only imagine how much services and useful projects we’ve lost at the hand of devolved corruption.
2016 has provided a huge canvas to paint corruption in Kenya. From the executive to legislature and Judiciary; all the arms of government have been stinking with corruption throughout the year. If there’s anything to take from this year, it’s that most of our politicians and public officials are irredeemably corrupt. It’s not easy to have one corruption scandal after another and with such frequency unless we’re completely numb to public theft.
A few weeks ago the president rhetorically asked whether he should put up a firing squad during an anti-corruption summit at State House. And while we mostly focused on the president’s frustration; it was equally disturbing to watch the anti-corruption chiefs point fingers at each other. In the end they all seemed to be saying the judiciary-ironically, was the biggest impediment to swift justice. There was no way forward, at least until this week when Chief Justice Maraga promised to set up new rules to guide corruption cases at the High court and Magistrate courts.
The new rules will mean that once one is charged with economic crimes, they’ll be immediately set for conferencing within two days and hearings commence daily without adjournment. This is a step in the right direction and might help scare the corrupt officials known to use the bottlenecks in law to frustrate their prosecution. Can the other agencies also come up with special systems that could help with speedy investigation and prosecution of people committing economic crimes?
We are a few months from elections and the party primaries will reveal the sad reality that is the party elections. Whether we think IEBC or internal party organs will do a good job, the truth we all know is that the candidate with tribal and financial muscle will carry the day. Perhaps it’s about time we think hard about independent candidates now that institutionalization of political parties is proving tricky-even parties that have lasted over 10years are still synonymous with individuals who founded them rather than what the party stands for but that’s beside the point.
In the meantime the real power lies with the electorate. As we approach the campaign season, will we pause long enough to ask where the monies used on the tracks on campaign trails, choppers and branding material that are given to us free come from? Will we say no to crooked leaders and defeat corruption at the ballot? The ball remains in our court.