- They have come to believe that they must be bribed to participate in public affairs.
- This corrupt practice in public engagement has led to many youths becoming guns for hire.
Last Monday, as has become the practice over the past 11 weeks, Mombasa residents took to the streets to observe the Black Monday Protest. Black Monday is our way of decrying the violation of the socioeconomic rights of coastal residents by the State.
In a recent directive, the State ordered all goods coming in through the Port of Mombasa forcibly transported via the standard gauge railway. This directive has meant more than 100,000 people have lost their jobs in the transport and other sectors.
What caught my attention, however, was a young man who at the outset of the protests began demanding payment. He seemed convinced that his demand was justified as he kept saying that as a youth, he is always “used” by others and is never paid for his effort. This was a surprise as we have never paid anyone to participate in the protests. When we made it clear that there would be no payment and he could leave if he chose to, he asked why then were we protesting.
Unfortunately, this is the mentality of many Kenyan youth, who have come to believe that they must be bribed to participate in public affairs. Politicians, mostly, have poisoned our youth as they bribe them to attend rallies and engage in public discourses. This corrupt practice in public engagement has led to many youths becoming guns for hire. The youth no longer engage because they believe in a process but because they expect to earn a few shillings.
Corruption in the youth, and the entire population, is a menace that continues to affect all sectors. According to the Corruption Perceptions Index, Kenya is listed as one of the most corrupt nations in Africa. In the last few months alone, through the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions and Ethics and Anti Corruption Commission, major corruption scandals have been unearthed involving billions of shillings siphoned off public coffers. In almost all these cases, young people are directly involved.
It is the youth who end up lacking jobs and businesses because they have no money to bribe. It is they who lose services due to corruption. But most importantly, it is the youth who suffer the most as it is their future that is being gambled away.
While there are steps being taken at the national level to fight corruption, the same is not reflected at the county level. Corruption is thriving within the counties. The youth can still be heard complaining about corruption in the counties and not getting their share of county jobs and tenders. They are still losing out to tenderpreneurs who are working in cahoots with corrupt county officials to steal from the public and deny youth business.
At the counties there seems to be a general rule that once a tender is issued, the winner must give back 10 per cent of the project amount to the officers who gave out the tender.
With the spotlight currently on national corruption cases, county officials are getting away with corrupt dealings. It is difficult for the youth to compete in such an environment and the only alternative they are left with is to become corrupt too. When kickbacks are given out, the job done becomes substandard as funds for the job are reduced.
At the tail end of all the corruption are the youth, who bear the brunt of this immorality. It is the youth who end up lacking jobs and businesses because they have no money to bribe. It is they who lose services due to corruption. But most importantly, it is the youth who suffer the most as it is their future that is being gambled away with corruption. The major impediment to youth’s success in society therefore is corruption, which manifests itself across all sectors.
Considering the above, it is time the youth shunned corruption. Politicians in government and opposition have eroded the youth’s minds through the culture of tokenism. The youth need to liberate their minds from the shackles of corruption and remain steadfast in fairness and equity.
Kenya will only succeed if young people rise up and say they will not in any way support bribery and corruption. The future belongs to the youth. It is they who hold the power.