Fighting corruption is a process, not an event

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One of the most interesting (and disappointing) aspect of Kenya’s corruption is the extent to which key players in the country’s public service are involved in the vice. During the Goldenberg Commission of Inquiry hearings for example, a list of over 100 persons of interest included senior customs officers, senior managers at the Central Bank of Kenya, leading politicians of the time and even members of the Judiciary. The same case applies for Anglo-leasing.

The recent NYS scandal is panning out in exactly the same way. The affidavits and counter-affidavits, rumors on the street and media exposés indicate that when the truth of this scandal finally comes out we will find all manner of public servants were involved in scamming Kenyans; from senior ministry officials to parastatal heads to tender committee members.

The second observation one makes is how the private sector supports such scandals. We saw lawyers, bankers and investment advisors pulled into the Goldenberg and Anglo-leasing scandals, and we are seeing it happen in the NYS narrative. In fact, I am personally convinced that behind the kind of corruption scams we all cringe at Goldenberg, Anglo-Leasing, Kazi Kwa Vijana, Tokyo Embassy, Molasses, Yatta and Malili Land Acquisition etc; you will find an extremely smart but very unethical businessman. Kamlesh Pattni is the most well-known Corruption Czar so far but I suspect within this generation we will unearth another even more notorious Czar, who will make Pattnis’s achievements look like petty change.

What we have going for us now, as compared to during Kamlesh Pattni’s time; and the reason why I believe we are actually winning the war against corruption despite the challenges and judicial injunctions; is the dynamism of the 2010 Constitution.

Unlike the old constitution the 2010 Constitution introduced systems that have literally transformed how government conducts itself by overturning the power principal in Kenya. Today sovereign power belongs to the electorate not the elected, which is why unlike in the past public outcry is enough to get a Cabinet Secretary fired!

Even more fundamentally the 2010 Constitution expanded responsibility about who fights corruption (and increased the accountability structure of how a corruption investigation is conducted thus reducing the ease with which a suspect could compromise investigators). Kenyans created institutions which we then directly mandated to fight the vice and set them up in such a way that they would do their work independent of external interference, but inter-dependent on each other. This automatically ensured independence does not mean lack of accountability.

Article 79 established the Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission (EACC) and charged it with ensuring compliance as well as enforcing provisions of Chapter Six on leadership and integrity. Article 249 then ensured the EACC was subject only to the Constitution and the law and that its mandate was not subject to the control of any other person or authority.

Article 157 established the Director of Public Prosecution and charged it with responsibility of prosecution of cases. The constitution also gave the DPP the power to initiate investigation of cases on their own volition by instructing the Inspector-General of the National Police Service to investigate cases the DPP believes should be investigated, without the DPP having to refer to any other authority to make this decision.

Article 160 created an independent Judiciary that is no longer a tool of the executive. Today judicial officers are answerable only to themselves in regard to decisions they make on cases brought before them. All they need to do is ensure such decisions are guided by the constitution and existing laws.

The 2010 constitution means Kenyans managed to create the hardware the country needs to run a successful anti-corruption fight, and win. However it was a process that took over twenty years. Along the way we would take two steps forward and then one step back. But we moved forward, steadily. Technological advances during the same period helped. Cell phone cameras have now become the single greatest tool in exposing corruption. Combined with a liberal media we now expose corruption a lot faster than at any time in our history.

Unfortunately we have also been victims of our own success. Today anyone can stop the EACC or DPP from investigating corruption allegations them, using the Judiciary. This means when the EACC or DPP goes up against a corruption czar, who will have both the money and motivation to protect themselves, our constitution gives them the opportunity to use the same institutions we have established to fight them, to protect themselves … at least for a while. In the meanwhile they work very hard to compromise enough people to stop the case, or do something to stop the process. Sometimes they succeed.

Two steps forward… one step back. But even then progress still gets made.

(Wambugu is a Director of Change Associates, a Political Affairs Consultancy)

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  • Monica

    Thitu, you are on point like a finger! Finally, someone who sees my point of view. I think our society is obssessed with marriage hence the compromise. I am not against marriage but I also know that singlehood is a viable option much as society wants to stigmatise it. Great people we look upto like Paul, Jesus, Mother Teresa, Jeremiah etc were single. Matthew 19:12 (the Good News version) sums it up very well.

  • Feel as though ur saying that married people are losing out on something… that God cannot use married people as much as single people.
    God was still the one who said “It is not good for man to be alone”
    Although there is some truth to this (God using single pple more), it still does not take away the fact that most of us are meant to get married. Or how would we “Go and fill the earth” if most of us aren’t meant to be married? Married people are also in God’s will. I wonder what could have happened if Adam could have said “I just wasnt meant to be married” Hehe!

  • Levi magari

    Makes a lot of sense.

  • Marriage should only be entered into when someone is absolutely ready for it. And it’s good you realize that right now you’re at a point in your life when you’re not ready to accomodate a man in the form of a husband. The tragedy of today’s marriages is that not everyone adheres to this realization -even when they know it very well. Many people get married just to ‘fit in’, or to ward off pressure from relatives and friends. But at the end of the day, it’s your life and your happiness so you should do what suits you and not what others dictate of you. Nice article Thitu.

  • Muraya

     Nowadays people are justifying lack of wholesomeness in life by the name of God. Don’t get me wrong here. what i mean is sometimes people do not make an effort to try harder, they just sit around and say its Gods plans for me not to do this or to do that. it’s not that God wants you not get into marriage but the western influence has hit us hard in our African civilization at the root, meaning in our women. these day people are even justifying being homosexual and the sort through the name of God. enlightenment is making us lose the value which meant most in our existence.

  • Anthony

    I think the issue being addressed is that we should not bow to pressure.

  • Flawsome

    “Go before God and find out if marriage is in his plan for your life.” Put that in caps, bold font 72!!!

  • demosthenes

    Your argument against marriage hangs on God/Jesus/the Holy Ghost being a ready substitute for a fleshly companion (or companions, depending on how you like to play). So what about heathens (like me) who haven’t God in their lives? What’s the argument for us?

    • Supreme

      Lol… Accept God into your life.

  • keuna

    If you are to be single go the whole nine yards, ie, no chipsing just be alone and dont stress pple who are married. Also dont justify being single as a result of not being able to change your statua

  • Curious

    Funny what a discrepancy there is between the comments made by men and those made by women. Says a lot, I believe.

  • Dan Kituku

    I am a fan of your scripts but this one, you hit way below the belt!

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