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NO PUBLIC ANGER

Corruption rides on mass ‘stupidity’

We protect our own, no matter the magnitude of their crime. We prefer our thief to their angel.

In Summary
  • When public sentiment detests corruption, it is possible to weaponise the anger and hunger to name, shame, and censure the perpetrators.
  • A huge financial war chest is celebrated during elections, without asking how the bribery money was acquired.

There is condemnation when the suspect is someone we only hear about. But the response is different when the suspect is one of us.

“With public sentiment, nothing can fail; without it nothing succeeds.” –Abraham Lincoln.

Does public sentiment support corruption? If yes, then we have a long wait to drive the vice out these climes. The corruption curve won’t be flattened any time soon. It will be scandal after scandal, with nothing sacred, including plunder of Covid-19 billions.

Or diverting devolved funds from financing water projects for thirsty residents of midwest Karachuonyo, to the acquisition of private property for governors, their lackeys, and girlfriends. Of leaders feasting while the people starve.

 

When public sentiment detests corruption, it is possible to weaponise the anger and hunger to name, shame, and censure the perpetrators. But that has not been possible because of low civic consciousness. The corrupt have the means to compromise their way into leadership. A huge financial war chest is celebrated during elections, without asking how the bribery money was acquired.

Heavy campaign spenders recover their money from public coffers once elected. They will steal more to finance subsequent elections. Good people whose pockets are shallow have no chance with a gullible electorate. Filth attracts more flies than honey. Corruption is tolerated, depending on the proximity of the suspect to the beneficiaries of proceeds of impunity. We protect our own, no matter the magnitude of their crime. We prefer our thief to their angel.

The cases of Migori Governor Okoth Obado and Nairobi’s Mike Sonko show how divisive corruption can be. And how infectious corruption would get if the status quo prevails. The orchestrated passion around the two cases show how divided public sentiments can be. There is condemnation when the suspect is someone we only hear about. But the response is different when the suspect is one of us.

We don’t focus on values; we bury our heads in the sand. The ‘Onge’ and ‘Sanguenya’ phsychosis creep in without any attempt to contextualise issues. ‘Onge’ is the denial of evidence to protect self-interest. It comes with a ‘sanguenya’-like militia who are bribed to defend their benefactors.

There is no attempt to add value to county and national discourse on integrity in public office, democracy and public governance. There is no attempt to understand how corruption hurts the economy and burdened taxpayers. Corruption erodes the moral fabric of society; violates the socioeconomic rights of the vulnerable; undermines democracy; subverts the rule of law, which is the basis of civilisation; retards development; and denies the poor the benefits of open competition.

We don’t focus on values; we bury our heads in the sand. The ‘Onge’ and ‘Sanguenya’ phsychosis creep in without any attempt to contextualise issues. ‘Onge’ is the denial of evidence to protect self-interest. It comes with a ‘sanguenya’-like militia who are bribed to defend their benefactors.

Consider the diatribe about so and so is also a thief, why ‘persecute’ only one suspect? The defenders say all governors, especially in Nyanza, are corrupt. They wonder why only one has been picked for prosecution. They call it persecution to mislead the masses. The Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission cannot investigate and arrest all suspects at once.

Sonko and Obado are victims of precedent: After the Justice Mumbi Ngugi ruling in former Kiambu Governor Ferdinand Waititu’s corruption case, governors and other public servants charged with corruption are barred from accessing their offices. The Migori deputy governor has been on the sidelines. Now, Migori needs an acting governor while Obado sorts out his integrity issues. Can’t it be simpler than this? Why the sideshows to sidestep serious issues of public interest?

Members of the Migori county assembly have not made the issues any easier. Long used to patronage, now they are being called upon to defend the public interest. They will have to bite the hand that feeds them. If they don’t, voters shall punish them at the ballot.

Corruption thrives on mass gullibility, divided sentiments, and infectious stupidity. Of siding with wrong in the face of incriminating evidence. Individuals should not be allowed to exploit public office for self-enrichment. The people should turn a corner to redefine the national destiny.