Integrity Vs Impunity
From Berlusconi to Barclays Bank’s UK CEO Bob Diamond, from Nicolas Sarkozy who’s now dealing with illegal campaign funding issues to Mint Romney who can’t tell the American people where all his money is or whether he has filed tax returns on the same. At home, Raila Odinga who has to deal with Miguna Miguna’s unmasking and the high court judges who were decisively sent home last week – a lot of what makes or breaks a politician, a judge or even a business mogul seem to boil down to what happens when that person’s integrity is put under the spotlight.
Strangely however, we don’t seem to look at a person’s integrity before we vote them into office. In fact even before appointing them to their plum jobs of positions. We question their integrity when things become “elephant”. However Chapter six of our beloved constitution is clear on these matters. In fact I was told that up-holding this chapter could easily deal with 60 percent of the issues that ail this country in politics and governance. However, looking around, it’s also clear that no-one wants to deal with that chapter. It’s a little like the game my daughter plays where we closes her eyes believing because she can’t see me, I can’t see her.
As citizens we will be forced to look at Chapter six in the coming weeks and months even as we relish and rub our hands in glee saying “katiba inafanya kazi”. At some point, the whole idea of leadership and integrity will become the toughest thing we will have to deal with as we decide on our future leaders at both the local and national level. Some of us will rubbish that chapter, some will question whether it’s even possible to hold another to such high standards and others will dare the IEBC and even the supreme court to draw a line in the sand. We are in for exciting times.
Parliament doesn’t want to even look at that section, in fact given a chance they would delete the entire chapter forget about amending it; and for some strange reason the IEBC seems to be skirting around it hoping it will go away. After all, the IEBC is the body that will clear a candidate to run for office and in so doing award them a certificate or not. Yes, a rough job, but someone has to do it – they clearly don’t relish the prospect. I’ll ignore the fact for now that they are currently facing integrity issues of their own.
The chapter on leadership and integrity redefines authority assigned to public officers as a public trust exercised in a manner "consistent with the purpose and objects of the Constitution, demonstrates respect for the people, brings honour to the nation and dignity to the office, promotes public confidence in the integrity of the office and where that authority vests responsibility, to serve the people rather than power to rule them".
Any sitting politician will tell you, 'hiyo haiwezekani!' What’s the point of being muheshimiwa if you can’t lord it over people. If you can’t drive on the wrong side of the road and dip your hand into the CDF kitty once too often? What’s the point then? I bet there are those eyeing public office who also feel the same way. All their lives, they have wished and long for a time when they too can behave like muhesh – all big and important. Telling them that going into politics or seeking public office means serving the people is just crazy. In fact they’ll probably tell you, …”ikwa ni hivyo, wacha ikae!”
Parliament is further required to enact legislation for effective administration of the chapter. Parliament must make provisions in the legislation, which require all State officers to be vetted by the Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission and Kenya National Human Rights and Equality Commission before appointment or election to a public office. Those who participated in past corruption and violated citizens’ rights must never again be allowed to hold public office.
I can hear enough politicians and holders of public office clearing their throats and saying “young lady, it will be a cold day in hell before we even agree to that……..” It is common knowledge that impunity ails our country. In fact, if we are to take the headline on the front page of The Standard last Saturday (21st July 2012) – Impunity Fights Back – says it all. just because we have a new Constitution does not mean that impunity will go away.
Over the next few months, you and I will have to seek within ourselves a desire to see chapter six upheld and in so doing force the rest to comply. If we are hoping that the current parliament will uphold this chapter, we’re in for a very rude shock. Should we be swayed by whoever has the most money and the best negative ads against their opponents, we all fail. Having admitted and accepted that sad reality, we should also ensure that we don’t spend the next four years after March 2013 whining about the “kind of leaders” we have. After all, we get the leaders we deserve.