From building permits to lifestyle audits – it’s time for honest, transparent Kenya

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“No legacy is so rich as honesty” – William Shakespeare

What will be our legacy? Will our generation be seen as an honest generation? Will we be seen as a generation that took Kenya forwards or backwards? If anyone understands the importance of legacies it is politicians. And Uhuru Kenyatta has decided that he doesn’t want to leave a filthy corruption filled legacy.

In every speech and in every statement, he reemphasizes this challenge at all levels.

We have all read about the mass corruption scandals at Kenya Power and the National Youth Service. Likewise, when a sitting Governor of Busia and a former Governor of Nairobi are under investigation, everyone is understandably talking about it.

But the issue of approving buildings on riparian land? How does one get this to the top of the agenda. The answer is threefold. First the president needs to talk about it. Second of all you need arrests and prosecutions. Third, demolish a multi-billion shilling mall, like the one on Lang’ata Road, which was built illegally on a riparian reserve; a living breathing example of corruption.

The news this week that Uhuru will continue demolishing buildings built illegally was never going to be a popular one. But the rule of law means the rule of law. And we must not waver in this fight.

“We will continue demolishing properties constructed on riparian lands, [and] equally punish officials who made approvals for those properties,” the president announced.

He is delivering the message that Kenya must be clean from top to bottom.

The spirit the president is preaching is trickling down to all the branches of government.

“Corruption cases will not be dragged or adjourned. Culprits must carry their cross irrespective of their status in society,” Chief Justice David Maraga has announced.

The Executive will make sure the Judiciary, the DPP and the EACC have all the tools necessary win the war. Chief Justice Maraga even noted that judges can be flown across the country if necessary. Correctly so, the judge and the president have made this their number one priority. New courtrooms are to be built, all with the utmost transparency.

Indeed, transparency is the key word.

Uhuru has issued a directive requiring all civil servants and public officials to undertake rigid lifestyle audits.

Wealth, assets and liabilities, open contracts, consultancies, overseas trips, plans for future employment, potential conflicts of interest; all must be declared.

State workers must fill in the audit immediately. These are no simple forms. Information must be provided on any civil or criminal cases, as well as dual citizenships. Even lie detectors are being used in the investigations. By all accounts, it is more of an interrogation than a simple questionnaire. Special focus has of course been placed on procurement officials, seen as natural weak links.

Uhuru and Ruto themselves have decided to lead from the front. For nothing screams honesty and transparency more than setting a personal example. Both of whom have begun their own personal lifestyle audits.

Mark Twain once wrote that “few things are harder to put up with than the annoyance of a good example.” Never a truer statement than in this case.

Uhuru’s good example and constant reminders of his war on graft has been annoying many. As a matter of fact, those behind bars or paying pricey bails are more than annoyed. They are rumbled. Their time is up. And they too serve as examples for all of those in our society who believe they are above the law. For all of those who would cream off the top, or pocket millions in their foreign bank accounts; they feel Uhuru breathing down their necks.

And as society and government opens up, more and more will fall. But as the crooked fall, society rises higher. These actions will separate the honest wheat from the dishonest chaff.

So, whether it is dodgy building permits, or multi-million-dollar scandals; one stolen note is one too many. We are at the dawn of an age whereby corruption is not the norm. But to get to that age, we must all walk through fiery purgatory. But, if we too promote transparency and conduct ourselves honestly; as a nation we will get there.

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