Dysfunctional institutions spell a failed state

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Amidst all the grumbling, political differences and negative ethnicity ailing this nation, there is one thing that almost all Kenyans have consensus on – that our greatest problem stems from Kenya’s failed institutions.

The major contributors to these systemic failures, according to most Kenyans, are our elected leaders; civic, Parliamentary and the Chief Executive himself.

Let us begin with Parliament which, despite all efforts to convince us otherwise, has failed in its core mandate of law-making. Anybody you ask will tell you that most of the challenges they face in their trade are caused by weak or cumbersome legislation.

Now, all our Parliamentarians are aware of this fact, but you will hardly hear them discuss remedies outside the August House. So, their work has been reduced to awaiting government-sponsored legislation, which will only receive support dependent on party affiliations and the parliamentary popularity of the minister in charge.

Take, for instance, the current furore over the Sh9.2 billion typing error made by the usually hawk-eyed Treasury officials. Our MPs actually make a case for Finance Minister Uhuru Kenyatta. You see, this same “typo” escaped Members of Parliament when they passed the Supplementary Budget; it is also possible for it to have escaped the ministry officials.

The point here is that MPs were presented with an application to withdraw Sh26 billion from the Consolidated Fund. None of them, not even Gitobu Imanyara who is now basking in somebody else’s glory, scrutinised the items listed in the mini-Budget.

Why did the anomaly have to be detected by some “civil society activists” who are funded by other countries’ taxpayers? Where were our own MPs, sleeping on the job?

I say, Parliament has failed in its watchdog role.

Perhaps the best way to demonstrate our rotten institutions is a look at Kenya’s fight against corruption. Again, Parliament, Judiciary and the Executive are to blame for failure to tackle this vice in society.

Even in those instances where Parliament claims to have acted against errant Ministers, all sentiments point to political fights, rather than the core principle of fighting graft.

Daudi Mwiraria and Kiraitu Murungi were ousted from their Ministerial portfolios to prove a political point. So was Amos Kimunya, who was later lucky to be in the right side of the House. He was exonerated by MPs who voted against a report from their peers.

When Ikolomani MP Bonny Khalwale demanded political responsibility from Agriculture Minister William Ruto over the disappearance of maize under his watch, fellow MPs termed it political witch-hunt. When a Parliamentary Committee queries the whereabouts of contaminated maize that should not be anywhere near Kenya’s shorelines, it is dismissed as a political fight.

Pray tell, then, how will Kenya ever tackle corruption when the vice is sugar-coated with political expediency?

I say, Parliament is perpetuating corruption in Kenya.

But even guiltier is the Executive whose officers resign and find their way back to the Cabinet and government positions with unbelievable ease. If the President were serious in his ‘zero-tolerance to corruption’ gospel, then a number of heads would have been sacrificed ‘to prove a point’.

When the President says ‘every country has some rogues’ it could be taken as a message to the corrupt officials in his government that it is okay to dip their hands in the cookie jar.

To kick start the war on graft and give it the necessary momentum, the President must stop demanding for evidence on every issue that crops up.

The Attorney General is the government’s chief legal advisor. When the wheels of justice grind to a near halt in courts, judges and the Anti-Corruption Commission have passed the buck to Amos Wako.

Even the British government recently told us that it was unable to continue with Anglo Leasing investigations because the AG’s office was not cooperative enough.

Prof George Saitoti’s name was expunged from a report that had implicated him in the Goldenberg theft on the basis of Mr Wako’s earlier defence of the Minister in Parliament.

Justice Aaron Ringera has on a number of occasions complained that his job was being frustrated by the AG’s office.

I say, the Executive inclusive of the Presidency and the Attorney General’s office, are not serious on the war against graft.

As for the Judiciary, I believe it is time Mr Justice Evan Gicheru took the bull by the horns to fight those who use his institution to stall cases.

It is widely acknowledged that clever lawyers often seek to stall graft and other criminal cases by seeking constitutional interpretations and other means available.

This, in effect, contributes to the backlog of cases. Couldn’t the CJ issue new rules that deter such instances?

A country without functional institutions is as good as a failed State. While I refuse to believe that Kenya should be described as such, it is important for all to acknowledge that we would be heading nowhere without proper institutional reforms – in letter and spirit.

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  • msema kweli

    I agree Laura, Kenyans should start acting. It begins with you(and me). Lets act by stopping to give bribes, to speak out against ills.

  • Lawrence Njenga- Limuru

    Laura…nice feature on your website. Anyway my point is simple. Kenyans are looking at Ruto now as a Hero. Like Artur is a BAD GUY but who wouldn’t want his autograph? Kenyan voters are everything their politicians are.

  • Githinji

    The Kenya we want is one without corruption but i don’t see and end it. We have tried to be united against it, remember 2002 when Kibaki become President,but it fought back hard and won. Guys as young as 20 are now seriously discussing ways to get to parliament and government so as to get involved in highly corruption ie Trition after all once we defraud billions all we need to do is by some MPs and get an expensive lawyer.It’s a small sacrifice for the billions.

  • Shikuku – USA

    How i wish more and more Kenyans got themselves engaged in the affairs of our great nation. Rally one another against relentless impunity by our leaders.
    Our leaders have lost the sense of being responsible to their employers thus continue to act recklessly in parliament (censure motion), they taint the image of our nations integrity. I dread reading news from Kenya everyday because they scream “something is not right again” and the worst is yet to come. Kenyans lets get involved in pragmatic political decisions of our nation right from our dinner tables. Lets resolve to build a better Nation on the principles of democracy. It can be done. WE CAN DO IT! I believe.

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