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February 16, 2019

FAITH MUNUHE: Corruption a form of neo- colonialism

CARTOON: "How African states fight corruption"
CARTOON: "How African states fight corruption"

Debris from the colonial period still litter our landscape. The basic lessons of colonialism are still being internalised by many.  The concepts of exclusivity and elitism, legal apartheid and exploitation have yet to be fully shaken off.

The dictatorial eras of Mzee Jomo Kenyatta and President Moi were perhaps necessary periods of transition. President Uhuru Kenyatta's first term had many merits indeed. However, one crucial matter was left to fester and grow, until not so long ago, into an uncontrollable monster. Corruption. 

Corruption keeps power and wealth in the hands of a few. It steals from the indigenous and hardworking people of the land. It ignores the rule of law, infects, rots and eventually kills democracy.

This is why it is important that in his second term Uhuru has removed the proverbial gloves. No more Mr Nice Guy. His actions are showing the country, and indeed the region, that Kenya can no longer be a place where a few illegally prosper at the expense of the masses.  

One of the ways he is clamping down on corruption is through basic transparency. Tenders and government contracts, long the crux of corruption and focal point of ‘seepage’, now are to be held to new standards. Full transparency is being required both in terms of the paper trail and availability online. Rules and laws underpin this new accountability.

He is also showing real leadership and leading by example. All senior officials are undergoing rigid lifestyle audits. All procurement managers and directors are now thoroughly vetted by independent third parties. Uhuru’s team has even brought in lie detectors to make sure there are no slip-ups in the process.

Then, of course, there are the high-profile cases we have all read about: Kenya Power bosses, NYS officials (48 of them), Kenya Bureau of Standards officials. Not even sitting governors have been spared.

So, at this unique time in our nation’s history it is important that we internalise lessons from colonialism. No tribe is above or below another. No individual deserves anything they have not worked for or earned. If we want something we must stand up and act. Our forefathers saw wrong being done to our nation and rose up, they took our nations fate into our hands.

Today, hundreds of millions of dollars are being stolen every year. Economists have estimated that up to one-third of the national budget is lost through various forms of graft. From the high-level official to the corrupt policeman on the street trying to ‘supplement’ his wage; widespread corruption is a modern form of colonialism. It enslaves us all and must be eliminated.

The campaign being waged by the President must, however, be combined with a parallel campaign to win hearts and minds.  Without educating the masses about the evils of exploitation, oppression and discrimination will trickle back into our society. Social media and traditional media offer us an opportunity to teach our young about the evils of days gone by, and how they translate into today's woes .

Corruption is our neo-colonialism. Together we must speak up and support the anti-corruption war. However, just as liberation was not the end of our independence struggle but rather the ‘end of the beginning’ of a new era of hope, so we must always continue to demand more of our current leaders.

Diplomacy student, University of Nairobi 

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