“Wakenya wenzangu (fellow Kenyans), the war against corruption and economic crimes is about the wellbeing of our Republic. Let’s all join hands and vigorously fight this vice.”
This was the President’s tweet about the importance of working together in this crucial moment in our country’s history. The unity deal signed between Raila and Uhuru marked a new era for the people of Kenya. It sent a strong message to reverberate far and wide. It is discussed online. It is discussed on the matatu.
The message was clear: If there is one subject which must force our divided nation to work together, as one, it is in the fight against corruption. We have no time for tribalism in this battle which affects us all.
“We are all to blame. But we must now say enough is enough and move forward”, Uhuru recently noted.
This is why he has called for his own lifestyle audit to be replicated across the public sector. For what is leadership if it is not to set an example. DP Ruto and all other public servants are also to begin to undergo these extensive checks.
From now on, all procurement officers in government offices or parastatals are under the microscope. Vetting is no longer a simple interview or perusal of a CV. From now on it is serious. Your record, your character and your trustworthiness will all be checked. Uhuru’s team have even brought in the most advanced technologies to find those who cannot be trusted and keep them away from the public purse. Polygraphs, used all over the world, will now be part and parcel of these new checks.
The bodies investigating and prosecuting graft have been injected with a new lease of life. They can finally do their job with new leadership and capacity. Much has been written about the new incorruptible Director of Public Prosecutions, Noordin Haji. His vigour has been laudable and must replicated at all levels. With widespread arrests at the National Youth Service, Kenya Power, the Bureau of Standards and further afield, there is a genuine feeling that this is no longer ‘business as usual’ for corrupt Kenyans.
With the President’s Big 4 agenda in full swing, there is no room for wastage. Kenya, and Kenyans, need every shilling to advance this agenda of progress and prosperity.
The boss is looking to create 1.3 million manufacturing jobs while reaching full health coverage (for every single Kenyan) by the end of his term. Manufacturing and food supply will be given a new lease of life and plans to build 500,000 affordable homes are racing ahead!
Vision 2030 was never going to be cheap. So, stopping corruption has become more than an ethical and moral endeavour, it is simple economics. Save money by stopping corruption at all levels, and that money can be spent on things that really matter; from healthcare to education.
While scores of public sector arrests have been made, there is much more work to do. There is of course room for new ideas and the private sector must be active partners.
Marcus Green, a board member of the Conference of Western Attorneys General Africa Alliance Partnership (CWAG-AAP) recently noted at the African Bar Association conference that the heat should be turned up even further. He noted that we should include both stringent jail terms in conjunction with immediate asset forfeiture to serve as an immediate deterrent to those looting.
Green noted that “If you convict someone of corruption and you do not take the money then who would not lie in jail for four years knowing that after the years you have millions of dollars to come home to?”
He also discussed the combined bottom up approach which the Building Bridges task-force has recently been advocating. The group, a result of the unity handshake between Raila and Uhuru, has made an interesting request too. They have called on the public to submit their own ideas and initiatives on how to tackle this evil vice.
In a recent press release, the task force therefore asked for a group effort. Negative group think for too long has underpinned corruption, now positive group think must undermine it. We must change the way we think and act as a society. We must find solutions, hand in hand with our elected officials.
Corruption plagues us all at every level. It is not just the politicians. It is not just the policemen. It is not just the bureaucrats who ask for a “tip” to get things done. It lies with all of us. By changing the way we all handle corruption, leakage and even the most basic forms of graft, we all have a role to play. The moral fabric of our society is rotten; together we must heal it.