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  • Writer's pictureIrungu Houghton

Other anti-corruption strategies besides polygraphs we could use

Happy belated Madaraka day everyone. If there is a day that represents our nation’s search for self-governance and integrity it is this. Once again, a vicious struggle by citizens, state officials and cartels for the conscience of our nation framed the day. Perhaps, it is time to try new strategies to realize our constitutional aspirations.

Less than a hundred individuals and briefcase companies seem to have made off with 17 billion shillings intended for our farmers, youth, energy consumers and forests in the last month. I suspect the remaining ethical State Officers will have been left shaking their heads and wondering where to start cleaning up. They can be forgiven for the cowardice of thinking Kenya has no 2030 vision or future anymore. The present is too turbulent. All there is left to do, is damage control.

If we are honest, many citizens are grappling with cowardice too. The figures are mindboggling. Let me put this in context for us all. The estimated losses are twice the amount set aside in last month’s supplementary budgets to recruit new 24,000 teachers. It is slightly more than new Gas Yetu program to buy 3 million gas cylinders for low income families. Our #StopTheseThieves protesters in Mombasa and Nairobi put it differently on Thursday. We lose 25,000 shillings every second to these scandals. Overwhelmed, most citizens can be forgiven for the hopelessness and cynicism that nothing will ever change.

It is worth reminding those that remain apathetic or too busy to address the implications, that this too, is Vision 2030. Let Transparency International help you imagine the complete and catastrophic collapse of Chapter Six for a minute. The bottom five most corrupt states on the Transparency Index are characterized by no public services, child labor, huge inequalities, conflict and violence, no free press or civic organisations and failed states.

The stairway to the top of the Transparency Index is fairly straight forward. Thorough and uncompromised investigations by the National Intelligence Services and Directorate of Criminal Intelligence and convictions by the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions is what is needed now. Hold bank managers accountable for obviously violating our banking laws. Vet lifestyles and confiscate Officials and their immediate relatives’ assets until the cases are concluded. Keep the investigations in the public domain as much as is possible without jeopardizing the cases. Ask for and guarantee Kenyans immunity to share information on these cases.

Once again, these scandals reflect a fierce battle for the very soul of our nation. The degree of ethical rot reflects in the appetite for supplies management and procurement diplomas. It reflects also in the frenzy for Government tender hustling. The desire to supply goods, services or works is a part of every dinner conversation right now. Seven in ten young people now see this as their main career objective. We must start thinking and acting differently.

Some hard lessons need to be learnt by the President and 47 Governors. Giving State Officers a free pass by appointing questionable past State Officers, campaign financiers and poor vetting is ultimately responsible for the current crisis. Deliberately ignoring voices that raised public alarm during the campaigns and nomination vetting processes is another costly mistake. Criminalizing corruption in episodic music chairs games is not working.

What if we started really incentivizing citizens who fight impunity and corruption? What if we had real incentives for those helping injured on our roads, volunteering in our communities, running benefit marathons, exposing and demonstrating publicly against corruption, filing taxes early, showing up punctually and exercising regularly?

What if Government agencies started to fast-track key services, offer a one-time right to bail card, tax breaks, free parking and matatu rides for patriotic citizens who act against impunity and corruption?

What if State Officials really protected the right of citizens to freely express themselves, assembly and organize against human rights violations, impunity and corruption?

The Director of Public Prosecutions statement in support of Article 37 and the anti-corruption rally this week did not go unnoticed by the public. Like GSU officer Joseph Nthenge’s non-violence coaching of post-election demonstrators in 2009, he affirmed our right to peacefully assemble and protest. Our democracy is richer for both their actions.

Whether you were in Uhuru Park or Safari Park this week, we have to intensify our battle against public theft and find ways of working together. There is power in both prayer and protest when we choose to act decisively together.


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