The following article first appeared on the Kenyan Weekly
By Kinaga Mbugua
On 17th December 2010, a young man, soaked in gasoline, walked up to the Municipal headquarters in Tunisia and lit himself up. His name was Mohamed Bouazizi. Acting in ultimate protest against harassment from Municipal council workers who had taken away his cart – his only source of income, Mohamed Bouazizi went on to spur what we now know as the Arab Spring, that ignited a civic resistance against the ruling establishments within the Arab league. Today, five years later, I see no better exemplar of where we stand as a nation.
On 9th December 2015, the world marked yet an important day globally. The International Anti-Corruption Day. Hauled up from the adoption by the UN General Assembly of the UN Convention against Corruption, the conclave on 31st October 2003 resolved to set aside this date, to create awareness on corruption, as nations across the world plan their political, economic and social prospects.
This day couldn’t come at a better time. Not with the current woes we continue to grapple with as a nation. It is now that Kenyans must choose to do even more, to defeat this brute in the name of corruption, that is slowly threatening to scatter away the gains made by forebears; some of whom paid with their lives to have us enjoy the dispensation we have today.
Gains have been made; that cannot be naysaid. However, as time progresses, the hope to win the fight against corruption in Kenya seems to slowly evade most Kenyans, who are now treated to new scandals almost every month. Some have lost (or are losing) faith in this war. But few are still determined to press the wall for as long as it stands. These are our heroes and they need to be celebrated.
As we mark this year’s Anti-corruption day, Kenyans must ask themselves tough questions. Like what it would take for us to step up our efforts in the fight against corruption. We must begin to ask ourselves, whether we have gotten (or when we will get) to that point that Mohamed Bouazizi, and his fellow Tunisians got to, in the pursuit of what we believe is not just best for us, but also for those coming long after we have left.
The International Anti-corruption day, seeks to remind Kenyans the Achilles’ heel that stands between them and better days. And although most times the war against corruption has been lost, the battle can still be won. Here is how:
We must not tire from demanding answers from relevant duty bearers. Afew months ago, when some Kenyans, notably led by Raila Odinga sensationally demanded for probity into the NYS scandal, pro-establishment minions disparaged these as political clatter and groundwork in the run up to the 2017 polls. Afew months later, the Cabinet Secretary for Devolution and Planning was ‘forced’ to resign. Currently, she’s one of those being investigated for the loss of billions in the NYS scheme. Whether as a person of interest or as a suspect, I leave it to the EACC.
And now, we have the Eurobond drama which certain quarters have termed as yet another scandal in the offing. Over the last week, Kenyans have been treated to a game of screens, with the Cabinet Secretary for Treasury at pains to explain the raising, management of, and the utilization of the proceeds from the Eurobond issue done last year. It must not be lost to us, to seek answers, not for purposes of discrediting duty bearers or for political capital, but even more so, to raise the confidence of Kenyans in their government and its arms. This is why there is need for concerted efforts to see the Access to Information bill which is currently under debate in parliament, passed and effected. Then we won’t have to see personal invitations to Treasury to confirm what is really, public information.
Our anti-corruption framework also needs reworking, notably the Public Procurement laws, which need to seal the loopholes pointed out by pundits, as contributing to a massive leakage in government. Both the government and the private sector must relook, rework and reform the manner in which they conduct business. On this same note, a review of the public procurement conducted over the last three years in government needs to be expedited in order to offer us the reality of the task ahead with regards to public procurement.
Kenyans must also change their view on graft and its perpetrators. They must be ready to lower their tribal helms and diadems and treat corruption with a standard yardstick that allows all persons suspected, indicted, or impeached for graft allegations to face the full wrath of law. Only then, will the battle be fully won.
The writer comments on socio-political and economical issues.