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September 20, 2018

Time For Citizens To Act On Graft

Supreme Court judge Philip Tunoi. Photo/file
Supreme Court judge Philip Tunoi. Photo/file

The Constitution of Kenya grants sovereignty to the people who in turn delegate it to an elected government to exercise it on their behalf.

The implicit meaning behind this is that government is but a mere trustee of the people’s power and its contract can be revoked.

The current government’s contract, for example, is up for renewal in August next year.

This is not to say however, that people have necessarily to wait until elections to take back their power.

The people should have the right to cull back powers that the government has shown itself to be abusing or failing to exercise as expected.

One of those is upholding the Rule of Law.

This is to say that the government’s handling of the principle that no one is above the law and the law applies equally to all is wanting.

Examples are too numerous to cite. Suffice it to say that citizens of this country have been treated to a mockery of justice when it comes to holding the mighty to account.

This week, the country has been holding its collective breath as investigations into allegations of grand bribery at the Supreme Court are investigated. This is the court of last recourse and whose judges are expected to be beyond reproach.

At a time the Judiciary is supposed to be undergoing reform, one can only wonder what lower courts’ judges and magistrates think when they hear of such allegations. Won’t they also sell justice to the highest bidder? After all, this country is a Common Law jurisdiction where decisions of higher courts are binding on lower ones.

To provide relief as this saga unfolds, a Runda tycoon said to have been drank, crashed his Range Rover into an estate barrier killing a security guard.

He was charged in court with a traffic offence and released on a Sh100,000 bail.

What are we supposed to think? Who between the police and the court decided this was a misdemeanour offence and set bail terms as such? Would anyone be faulted for looking at the Supreme Court case and drawing analogy?

The Director of Public Prosecutions Keriako Tobiko took to court the former Director of the National Youth Service Nelson Githinji and charged him, jointly with other officials, for abuse of office. Githinji and his colleagues were accused of misusing about Sh400,000 on the repair of a private vehicle. What?

We were told Githinji and others resigned because of a Sh891million embezzlement scandal at the NYS? Then they are being charged with pinching petty cash?

The former Cabinet Secretary for Transport and Infrastructure, Engineer Michael Kamau was charged in court for changing the designs of a road without following procedure.

The other day, British authorities jailed staff of a company that bribed Kenyan officials to get contracts to print various election and national examination materials.

Despite the fact that the names of the officials who were bribed were made public, none of them has been arrested or charged.

The DPP in his wisdom said that he was yet to receive evidence against the Kenyans.

He did not say he had contacted British authorities and failed to receive the necessary evidence.

Meantime, other scandals that are yet to be unearthed are still brewing.

The National Hospital Insurance Fund is charging employees exorbitant sums to allegedly provide cover, but private sector employees are being turned away when they seek treatment under this cover at private hospitals.

It is very apparent that this body as presently constituted cannot be given the tens of billions that it stands to collect before it is comprehensively restructured.

This is because over the years, millions have been embezzled and NHIF officials have grown tremendously rich. The bloated organisation spends 43 per cent of contributions paying salaries and loses millions more in graft.

One staff member in the finance department, for example, is rumoured to have recently purchased a Sh140milllion home in Karen.

The point is, everywhere you turn, the issue of people stealing public funds and getting away with it because there is no enforcement of the rule of law as it should, has become intolerable.

It is at this point that citizens should perhaps take up the issue of enforcing rule of law upon themselves.

Where the DPP has failed to institute prosecutions, the public should now bring private prosecutions.

Where the masses have been wronged, it is time to bring about civil action lawsuits against the offending parties.

Non-Governmental Organisations which spend all their time writing glossy reports of lack of governance and corruption should take a more proactive role in bringing about these lawsuits and private prosecutions.

Where police have failed to unearth evidence, citizens will crowd source it.

Corruption lords must be publicly shamed.

Just like Ma3route, a Twitter handle, crowd sources information on traffic on Kenyan roads, a secure portal where information on who is stealing public money, which public official is putting up apartment complexes which do not tally with his known income can be posted should be set up.

Where the public is being conned of its money through inflated tenders, the tenderpreneurs and the officials who they give kickback must also be ousted.

These are but a few steps that the public can take the initiative to fill in gaps that this government seems so determined not to fill.

Come election time, let the issue of corruption be used as the yardstick on whether to extend this government’s contract.

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