Strengthening the National Values in Our Civic Space

Posted by on 6th September 2019

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I’d rather die on my feet, than live on my knees,’ states Spencer Sankale a senior accountant in Maasai Mara University in an expose dubbed the Mara Heist aired on Citizen TV. In the expose Spencer gives a tale of rot, backed with phone call and video recorded evidence, of top university officials who have mastered the craft of money laundry from public institutions; milking bank accounts dry day in day out and even heartlessly denying the same institutions and young minds from Narok County and the country the chance to quality education and essential services such as medical care.

This might just be the right spirit for a country that is focused on eradicating corruption and a citizenry that is choked by graft cases at the expense of service delivery and infrastructural development. Spencer joins the list of Kenyans such as David Munyakei, the late Paul Oulo and John Githongo who saw and still find it best to live for values that guarantee them comfort with dignity and respect rather than losing self-respect by moving with the flow. To a greater extent, these acts are driven by patriotism, bravery, integrity and a desire to uphold and promote national values.

While the 2010 Constitution of Kenya under Article 232 advocates and provides for principles that inform the public service such as high standards of professional ethics, effective and economic use of resources, individuals who are keen to expose contrary happenings in public offices and service have always been left between a rock and a hard place. At most times there is no sound reaction from relevant authorities beyond prolonged court cases, trending hashtags, tweets and retweets by the public; formality stances from the government and then comes yet another expose that numbs our conscience with an even appealing case.

Thus even with clear and convincing evidence, most citizens will choose to go silent on wrongdoings and acts of corruption in the public offices. Such citizen inaction is always propelled by a great sense of fear for victimization, discrimination and job security. Hence the government needs to be clear on the legislation towards the protection and promotion of the individuals who are ready to promote national values at all costs. The assurance for protection of these individuals acting in good faith and on solid grounds or reasonable belief from discriminatory action is still unclear and debatable.

There exists a Whistleblower Protection Bill, 2017 that outlines the procedure for disclosure of information relating to improper conduct in the public and private sectors and also assure protection of persons who make such disclosure against victimization. The bill still sits in the office of the cabinet secretary. For an officer who is keen in promoting national values, the bill should have moved to parliament for amendment into law. But as of now the cabinet secretary exposes individuals like Spencer acting in good faith and on reasonable belief to discriminatory action and victimization.

Finally, blowing the lid on abuse of office and mismanagement of funds is a sign of an active citizenry that recognizes its civic duty and regardless of the negativity around it; it is always ready to die on their feet for the national values.