WAR ON CORRUPTION

Build cells for graft families

Law should not divide what impunity has brought together.

In Summary

• It's time to name, shame, prosecute, convict, repossess proceeds of corruption, fine and imprison.

• This is how it should be to check those who turn public office into playgrounds for greedy families.

The war on corruption has invaded conjugal space. The turn may require construction of remand cells for families to keep together what corruption has united.

It's been heading there for some time now: One governor and his spouse, and two members of Parliament and their wives are in court, charged with corruption. But more cases may still come up once pending investigations are concluded.

When it's done, no law should be allowed to divide what impunity has brought together. This could escalate the shame needed to deter corruption.

 

In a lakeside county, for example, top executives have their wives, brothers, sisters, nieces, nephews, daughters, sons-in-law and cousins occupying critical offices. These people have a nepotistic stranglehold on personnel, accounts, finance, procurement, supplies and audit departments.

From these strategic offices, they can plot, sniff tenders, fake supplies, cook figures, pay out and doctor accounts, without anyone exposing the conspiracy. It's all in the family.

The good news is, the war on corruption has engaged high gear, thanks to the Director of Criminal Investigations George Kinoti and Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission CEO Twalib Mbarak. But there is still more to be done, with the massive information whistleblowers have volunteered.

It's time to name, shame, prosecute, convict, repossess proceeds of corruption, fine and imprison. This is how it should be to check those who turn public office into playgrounds for greedy families.

But naming, shaming errant public servants and their complicit spouses does not go far enough.  Naming alone does not worry suspects whose preoccupation is accumulation of wealth.

But naming, shaming errant public servants and their complicit spouses does not go far enough...There are many such people for whom shame died. Shaming may deter those who still have a conscience in a polity where corruption is the new normal. But shame alone won't go far enough. Prosecutions, convictions, imprisonment, and recovery of proceeds of corruption must be stepped up.

Or escaping the deprivations of their childhood. Fear of reverting to the dire want of their youth makes a beast of some people who grew up sharing rooms with goats and chicken. Or those who first wore long trousers in high school.

Indeed, a man who would be obsessed with making money at any cost is known during initial encounters with affluence. There was this man who tasted the other side of life during his maiden chopper ride above the Maasai Mara National Park, and lunch at the Mara Lodge.

Then followed a first five-day, all-expenses-paid, stay at the multiple-star White Sands Hotel at the Coast. The initiation peaked with the villager's first Lufthansa flight to Hamburg, Germany. As the official German airline fight soared across the African sky into western Europe, the man regaled passengers with one message: He was creating a distance between himself and poverty.

Every time the plane gained altitude, he was sure he had arrived. The man has since moved from scandal to scandal. The ultimate symbols of arrival are still elusive. But the man won't give up on trying new tricks of making money.

There are many such people for whom shame died. Shaming may deter those who still have a conscience in a polity where corruption is the new normal. But shame alone won't go far enough. Prosecutions, convictions, imprisonment, and recovery of proceeds of corruption must be stepped up.

Infectious self-interest around governors fertilises corruption in some counties. The First Lady, and other members of His Excellency the Governor's household, control tendering and procurement departments.  

Girlfriends, brothers, cousins, uncles, nephews and nieces of the boss are the vicious hands behind county throne.  They register companies and influence who wins tenders, sometimes for the supply of nothing. Or construction of ghost boreholes and dispensaries.

Defying these forces comes with terrifying consequences, including taking out the conscientious at whim. Warnings, threats, dismissal, attempts on lives, staged accidents, or even murders are common. Those who know, know better than to stand in the way of tendersucks. They dare not challenge vested interests whose patron is the boss.

The EACC and the DCI have made great strides, but there is still a lot of work to do to sustain public goodwill.