“Corruption is a cancer: a cancer that eats away at a citizen’s faith in democracy, diminishes the instinct for innovation and creativity; already-tight national budgets, crowding out important national investments. It wastes the talent of entire generations. It scares away investments and jobs” – Joe Biden
According to the Corruption Perceptions Index (CPI) of 2017 Sub-Saharan Africa is ranked as the worst performing with an average score of 32 while Eastern Europe and Central Asia had an average score 34. The best performing region is Western Europe with an average score of 66.
The latest CPI index ranked Kenya at position 143 out of the 180 countries sampled, a slight ‘improvement’ from 2017 where it was ranked 145 out of the total. Compared to Rwanda which was ranked 48 with a score of 55 per cent, at 28 per cent, Kenya is doing badly. A lot therefore needs to be done.
President Kenyatta has been on record pledging to fight corruption at a time where his tenure has been riddled with many corruption scandals and open misappropriation of public funds. This far, no significant steps have been made to combat the vice. The same old cycle of arrest, arraign, release on bail continues while the country continues to lose billions of money meant for investments even as the public debt soars. Could the approach be the problem?
Failed institutions are a big challenge that we have to deal with as a country. We have over time developed a culture where we make lords out of the leaders heading public institutions such that when they leave, the institutions collapse. The judicial system needs to be strengthened to ensure that those caught face the full force of the law. Modalities should also be put in place to ensure that the monies that have been stolen are reclaimed.
Commissions of inquiry are in themselves avenues for misuse of public money. There exist in this country investigation institutions which should be left to carry out their mandate to completion.
Of great importance also is our value system. In japan, public officials feel guilty and opt to resign long before the system kicks them out of office. Here in Kenya however, national values are long dead. Leaders literally loot the public coffers dry but have the audacity to even go to churches to give that money in harambees and are not even afraid of the judicial process. Even from the basic unit in the society, the family, we need to cultivate a culture of transparency and honesty.
Integrity cannot only be taught in schools, it has to be inculcated in children so that as they grow up they know what is right and what ought to be done.
This may also require a change in the school curricula to incorporate lessons on integrity and the various ways in which all citizens can participate in the fight against corruption.
Civic education is necessary to ensure that the public is made aware of the adverse effects of corruption. Every citizen should be informed on their rights to ensure that instances of bribing the police are reduced or at best stopped. Calls from the civil society have been loud on making Kenyans rise up to fight against corruption. The public should take an active role in holding the leaders to account and also in voting out leaders who are mentioned in corruption scandals.
The media plays a critical role in this corruption story. The control of media outlets by the state is however a setback in this fight. While highlighting these stories as has been done recently in revealing the several scandals in public institutions, more needs to be done on the side of the media to expose the faces behind these scandals. We need to see more action being taken after such stories hit the headlines. Perhaps this is where investigative journalism should come in handy. Ghana’s top investigative journalist Anas has set the bar in as far as investigative journalism is concerned and the impact attained after his stories break is testimony of the media’s power in ensuring change.
The war on corruption is not one in vain. Our approach thus far has been limited but with the right focus we will soon triumph. We should see more concerted effort from all players in society beginning with the family all the way to the presidency.