Corruption is the greatest impediment to our country’s competitiveness. Public officers demand ‘facilitation fee’ to execute the duties we employ them to do, and well-connected Kenyans evade taxes, and, through the rampant procurement fraud, when they inflate the cost of goods or services they offer when doing business with the government. Corruption increases the cost of doing business, which reduces foreign investment and impacts negatively our balance of trade.
It is not that we don’t have laws to deal with the evils. Corruption, abuse of office, active and passive bribery, and bribing a foreign public official are criminal. Our laws, through the Anti-Corruption and Economic Crimes Act 2003, and the Bribery Act of 2016, deals with any form of corruption and economic crime.
It is not that we don’t know the perpetrators. The government IFMIS system is able to identify who ordered the payments and who was paid and after supplying what or delivering what services.
Neither is it that we don’t have a competitive judiciary. On the contrary, we’ve got a robust Judiciary, led by Justice David Maraga, that made a landmark ruling on the Aug 8 Presidential Election. This ruling that annulled president Kenyatta’s win was a first of its kind in Africa. The judges in the Judiciaries went through vigorous vetting that no any other institution has been passed through. There may be a few judges who are unscrupulous, but it is fair to say we’ve got a fairly competent judiciary.
Yet no meaningful prosecution has been made. You may ask, “where is the problem?”
You need to look no further for your answer than the mirror. Like the Russian Writer Leo Tolstoy once said, everyone thinks of changing the world but no one thinks of changing himself. To win the fight against corruption and impunity in our country, have you considered changing yourself?
Wheels of Governance
Those who have studied governance may define good governance, whether public or corporate, as the process by which an organization makes and implement its decisions in the best interest of its stakeholders.
a. The Executive: It is made up of the individuals filling the executive and management roles. In our case, it is the presidency, for the central government, and the office of the governor, for the county government.
b. The Oversight: Those who play the oversight role. Here is where the legislative arm of the government and the Judiciary fall. The legislative arm includes the parliament and the county assembly.
c. The Law: These are guidelines and policies that define management principles and decision-making process. It is the legal framework that must impartially be enforced if good governance must be achieved. Our constitution plays this part.
These three wheels of governance must work seamlessly to deliver good governance.
Interestingly, everything, as listed here, is present in our system of governance. So there’s nothing wrong with our system; but why so many scandals? It is not the system, it is us!
Elements of Good Governance
The outstanding feature of good governance is that it gives all and sundry the opportunity to have a voice in the decision-making process. The people can do this either directly, or indirectly through a legitimate institution that represents their interests.
And for such a broad participation to succeed, it has to encompass freedom of association and speech, as well as capacities to participate constructively.
Here are the elements that constitute good governance:
a. Equity & Fairness
A good government must treat its citizens fairly, regardless of their ethnic group, religion or their personal beliefs. The citizens must have equal opportunities to employment, and have the freedom of association and expression.
EACC’s latest survey tell you whether this government has offered equal opportunities to its citizenry, or not. It is not up to me to judge, but we all know the truth.
Food of thought: Have you ever wondered why there’s little business next to KCA University, off the Thika Super Highway, while things are different at All-Soaps, Roysambu, and Githurai along the same highway?
If Equity & Fairness was a litmus test, Jubilee administration would fail terribly.
This is a government that wants to instill fear in its people. Like now the now partly suspended Cyber Crime and Computer Misuse Bill! It is all aimed at stopping articles like this.
Openness is needed in executing the mandate bestowed upon you by the people. The people should know how the government acquires its money, how it spends it and to what end it makes the financial decisions. After all, it is the people who bear the burden of the costs arising from such decisions.
What would you say of our government? It operates in the shred of darkness. All deals are shadowy and information on government spending is sketchy. What better can justify this than the ongoing scandal, the NYS II, NCPB, Pipeline and many others.
In a good governance structure, individuals holding positions and the institutions are free to perform their duties devoid of undue influence. The crafters of our constitution envisaged a situation where all arms and different levels of the government work independently with one another.
As a country, it seems that we’ve failed to understand and respect the independence of institutions. We are always at war; county versus the central government, parliament versus the judiciary, Senate versus parliament, and the executive versus the judiciary. Interestingly, we’ve had very little fights between parliament and the executive.
On independence, the greatest problem has been emanating from parliament. It has allowed its powers to be usurped by the presidency. So, it is constantly fighting the wars on behalf of the executive.
Interference makes seamless operation untenable resulting in poor governance. If only MPs could put the interests of the people they represent before anything else, then perhaps Kenya could be a better place.
And if parliament, with all its powers, can be pocketed by the executive, what would say of a tendering officer at the NYS?
Even as you are reading through this, can you say we are an honest country? Honesty is one elusive character in Kenya. From our churches to the government, we are extremely dishonest.
As a country, we need to be honest. Honesty is a virtue that would allow us to share information and easily enable accountability.
In churches, the clergies bundled with big names such as the Mighty Prophet, Doctor Reverend, and even Prophetess lie to swindle unsuspecting Kenyans their hard earned monies in the name of the scripture. The “men of god” televise their weekly summons, some through the state-owned media house, while the clueless government remains numb on the matter, even when it is apparent that Kenyans are suffering at the hands of these witches!
The most dishonest class converge at one of the City’s most expensive hotel, just to say sorry to one another when the people they turned against each other lie in despair. Alas, and they dub this circus a prayer day.
Our dishonesty has transversed the humankind, we’ve now taken it to God, and you still ask why Moi Girls Rape and the Patel Dam incidents had to happen? Do you think the spirit of the people killed during the post-election violence of 2017 will rest in peace because the two political protagonists have been reunited?
It is an unwritten rule of best practice everywhere in the world that the person in charge is liable for the events that take place during their tenure. However, it is a norm in Kenya that whenever something happens, those in charge refuse to take the blame.
The Moi Girls principle should accept the responsibility for the rape incident. Interestingly, the school even tried to conceal the matter?
The NEMA officials, who failed to notice the danger of the rising water levels and to notify the innocent residents of the neighboring villages, would have easily taken responsibility had that been the norm in our country. What do you expect, if the people at the topmost government position, including the presidency, won’t take responsibilities for the heinous act under their watch, who will? It is not our culture.
After every five years, through elections, we entrust leaders with the responsibility of manning our resources; making and implementing decisions our behalf. They, therefore, become answerable to us.
Accountability enhances prudent management of resources, which would definitely attract foreign investment. Increased foreign investment impacts positively on our balance of trade, which also increases our credit rating globally. Therefore, if at all, we want to realize the economic benefits of these decisions, these leaders must answer to us through various frameworks put in place.
Unfortunately, as Kenyans, politicians have rendered us powerless. We’ve allowed them to manipulate and turn us against each other. While we fight over them, they – together with their families and friends – continue to enjoy the trappings of power.
If we can observe the above six virtues, then we are building a reputation that is worth protecting. Having a good reputation gives you an opportunity to have a moral stance. Unfortunately, moral decadence in our society can’t allow us to this.
We are dishonest, irresponsible, and our actions are shadowy; this only means that we have a weak moral fiber.
I already know most of you are hating me and saying how judgemental I’m. Really, I’ve not spared myself either. We are in this together, remember am a Kenyan.
Good governance requires those in power to make a judgment by weighing on issues and give direction as quickly as possible.
Of course, you remember the “Mnataka ni fanye nini?” That’s our president for you! Are you still seating saying, “He is serious about fighting corruption”?
As you can see, integrity comes way below. It is the last, yet the one that always stands out. It also comes with my last word, before you start pointing fingers at who’s responsible for the looting spree we are witnessing in a country, kindly look closely at yourself. If you were at the decision-making table, would you be any different?
The truth is, you cannot adhere to a strict moral stance or ethical code and high moral virtue, if;
- you cannot make decisions for yourself.
- you have no reputation to protect.
- you are irresponsible and cannot account for your actions
- you are a dishonest person whose actions are shadowy.
- you treat people unfairly, through practicing nepotism or tribalism.