Old graft, hypocrisy will derail war on corruption

President Uhuru Kenyatta, his Deputy William Ruto, former Prime Minister Raila Odinga and former Vice President Kalonzo Musyoka at State House.Photo/FILE
President Uhuru Kenyatta, his Deputy William Ruto, former Prime Minister Raila Odinga and former Vice President Kalonzo Musyoka at State House.Photo/FILE

In Kenya’s history, the monster of corruption has never been discussed as vigorously as it is

today.

Many say this is as a result of increased freedom of media but it is also because of increased graft at all levels, that it can hardly misses the attention of our hawkish media.

A point I would like to make is that corruption has done well to increase the poverty of the people, stagnation of development and demise of our hope to get to the Promised Land.

Notwithstanding, let me also point out that unless corruption is eradicated, it will kill the Big Four agenda and President Uhuru Kenyatta’s legacy just as it predictably crippled Vision 2030, which we no longer hear much about.

Since this war is led by Uhuru, DP William Ruto, Raila Odinga, Kalonzo Musyoka and Musalia Mudavadi — who unfortunately also lead the major ethnic communities — I must ask these leaders to be above suspicion like Caesar’s wife. They must never be associated with graft or be accused of not paying rates and taxes as some already have.

And when leaders are accused of benefiting or perpetuating corruption, they must be humble enough to defend themselves as the late President Levy Mwanawasa of Zambia never allowed a challenge to pass without rebuttal.

In fact, if these leaders will lead the war against graft, they must as soon as they can, subject themselves to a personal audit and defend their wealth or surrender their leadership positions.

But why do leaders seem like lame duck in the fight against corruption? Is it the nature of our leaders to be corrupt and defend graft or are they unable to fight corruption because they are

beneficiaries?

Despite complaints against corruption by the people, they are number one reason why graft continues to grow because they continue to elect corrupt leaders into positions of power. If we sow lemon trees, do you harvest oranges? When we elect corrupt leaders, we cannot expect them to be saints once they are in power.

The truth is, even as we desire to end graft, we think less of its roots and how to defeat it.

If we look around the world, the least corrupt countries are those with social welfare, pro-people systems, while those that rank high on corruption are those with anti-people social and economic systems.

We will not root out corruption if we trust our development and resource distribution to our capitalist anti-people system that we now have. It is no accident that most countries that we

today

define as developed have social welfare systems that ensure maximum development of the economy and equitable distribution of resources.

Corruption will continue to plague Kenya and condemn us to abject poverty if we continue to trust our fate to the least equitable economic system.

Instead of being agents of equitable resource distribution, the only reason most people seek leadership is to acquire wealth as quickly as they can. So our leaders are agents, not of wealth to people but self-enrichment.

To win the war on corruption, we must demonise it. We cannot admire it and still be able to fight it. And as Aih Kwei Armah wrote in his book The Beautiful Ones Are Not Yet Born, you cannot seek cleanliness from human waste and love to eat maggots from that same waste.

When we fight corruption, we must start with old graft that we might have benefited from. Indeed, if we are shy to fight the roots because we benefited from them, then there is nothing that we are doing.

We are however the strangest people that ever-fought corruption. We fail to ask suspects to step aside from their offices or recuse themselves from trials to ensure no evidence is interfered with because we want to remain nice to victims and beneficiaries.

Ultimately, we must never kid ourselves that we can fight corruption or recover its proceeds by putting corrupt people in charge of this war. It is self-defeatist.

But again, it does not seem like the current crop of leaders can crack the nut of corruption from which they have benefited from.