Something caught my eye the other day as I went through news cables. A story about Delawere. The heading, “Delawere: The US Corporate Secrecy Haven” screams out of the Transparency International website. It has been replicated elsewhere by the New York times and the Washington Post.
Delawere is one of the Mid-Atlantic states located in the northern region of the United States. It is named after a River which is named after a person; Thomas West, 3rd Baron De La Warr who was an English nobleman and the first Governor for Virginia. It is also noteworthy that Delawere was also one of the 13 colonies participating in the American Revolution. It became the first of many US states to ratify the Constitution of the United States, making it the official “First State”. A title that will forever remain as that. But that is not all.
According to most anti-corruption reports, Delawere is home to corporate secrecy that enables shady companies, drug traffickers, embezzlers and fraudsters to cover their tracks when shifting dirty money from place to place. In small simple words we say, Money laundering. Delawere is a haven for transnational crime, harboring shelter for more than 60 percent of the Fortune 500 Companies within and beyond the US.
In Delawere, you are required to submit more personal information to get a library card, than you would need to register a company. Could it get any worse?
Now, in the recent CPI (Corruption Perception Index) report released by Transparency International, the US was ranked position 16th globally with a score of 76, (100 being the cleanest). Kenya was ranked 139th with a score of 25. These are indeed pronounced disparities. But even more, these numbers speak to each one of us as Kenyans. That after ten scores and forty years of independence, the US still has Delawere to think about. The same way we have the executive, legislature and now recently, the Judiciary too here at home.
Delawere reminds us that no Nation on earth, was, is or will ever be perfect. They may come close to perfection, but they will never cross its finishing line. And with Devolution still at its infancy here at home, it may be hard to tell as yet, which is our most corrupt county among the forty seven. So we can probably name it after Delawere.
The US is still fighting to turn Delawere into Nebraska or Oregon, more than two centuries later. We just turned 52 the other day and while our counties may not be a hard nut to crack as yet, the National Government and its various arms are now threatening to nib away the gains made thus far.
But we shall not stop demanding for these things. An independent audit of all EACC complaints and their status. An elaborate framework that will guide Lifestyle audits for public officials that we are now talking about. Because it beats any common sense there is, how one would declare their wealth, and then hide this information from the same public that that entrusted to him, the running of their affairs.
But even more so, we of the public will not tire to shout and scream anytime corruption or its façade shows up anywhere around us. Whether in government or in the opposition, courtrooms or supreme court benches, corporates or parastatals. We will keep writing, shouting, screaming, whispering or doing any other thing we can, to stop these vice from actively grabbing a seat in our homes and the society.
We will keep fighting graft from all echelons, not because we are sure of seeing the results of our struggle in our lifetime, but because fighting our way out, is the only best option for us and for generations coming after we are all gone.
The writer comments on topical issues.