War on corruption must be a concerted effort


Throughout the world, we have come to realise that where there is corruption; market systems are undermined; development agendas are derailed; the collective conscience of the people is scarred, and democracy is left devoid of its legitimacy.

It is evident that the consequences of corruption are far reaching. They are felt, in some way, by every citizen.

When income distribution is skewed due to corruption; when public resources and government revenue fail to be used to assist; aid and positively impact the people; when the hope of our youth has been replaced by crippling cynicism due to their encounters with corrupt leaders; organisations and systems. When the effects are as widespread as they obviously are, we are forced to acknowledge the severity of the issue: to remember that corruption if uncontained will contaminate every area of our society leaving us morally destitute, undermining our vision, retarding our growth and dividing our society.

Such a remembrance forces us to once again leave behind complacency, and approach this issue with renewed vigor; insisting that it will not be dismissed as another cliché topic: as something “we’ve all heard before.”

In order for us to effectively deal with corruption on a governmental level it is important that we decrease the bureaucracy and increase the transparency of our systems. It’s vital for the government; to have platforms where candid questions can be asked and where the public can keep the government accountable.

The Integrated Financial Management Information System (IFMIS), which assists in government planning and budgeting, is one way of ensuring that such accountability is provided. IFMIS provides us with innovative; technological solutions to an ancient problem. Through IFMIS the collected government revenue is monitored as it moves from point of issue to various ministries. The purchases that they contribute to are recorded thereby establishing efficient accounting systems. This process ensures that funds are consistently accounted for, by tracking end-to-end movement of all funds and synthesising the information collected to provide future records, and to allow for public scrutiny.

Therefore today, as we mark International Anti-Corruption day it is important for us to note and support this program and indeed value it for the role that it will play in eliminating corruption and in ensuring that revenue is used for the benefit of this nation.

However we must also evaluate ourselves. Corruption undermines each of our futures. It stops us from living out our full potential and essentially tells us that we are incapable. We are incapable of passing the test, or CAT exam so we use corrupt dealings to cheat, we are incapable of proving ourselves worthy of promotion: so we offer bribes or practice nepotism. We are incapable of succeeding and retaining integrity so we take short-cuts; we are incapable of earning our success so we smuggle it instead. When we practice corruption we create a mentality of inability within ourselves and within our nation.

Today we must begin to say no to this sense of inability. We must say no to the fatalist attitudes that preach the inevitability of corruption. We must begin to believe that we are capable, we are innovative; we are able to reach our vision; we are capable of leading with integrity and setting the standard. We are capable of succeeding without being corrupt. We are capable of doing all that corruption implies we cannot do: but we must be willing to be uncompromising and to take up the responsibility that comes with having a dream and a vision in order for us to move towards integrity; honesty; transparency.

Unless integrity is prized: corruption will thrive. Yet corruption is not only evidence of a lack of integrity. It is evidence of callousness, thoughtlessness and disunity. Corruption is always motivated by selfish gain and fails to consider the community and it fails to consider the future. We must, as a nation must insist on ridding ourselves of anything that perpetuates divided mentalities: and this includes corruption. We must honor each other by ensuring that we never think ourselves too important to put in the work that other citizens have to put in.

Finally, as we mark international Anti-Corruption Day, as we once again pledge ourselves to fighting the injustice of corruption, as we support the initiatives that scrutinise social/political and bureaucratic systems with a view to increasing efficiency; as we continue to think of more ways to address the core causes of corruption; as we exhort one another to consider how to counter this issue not just on a national level, but also on very personal levels – where true integrity is tested; let us remember that our struggle – is indeed that: a struggle. It is a struggle that will see us succeed and sometimes our success will be born out of rising after we fall. A struggle where our national willpower will continue to be consistently tested.

It is a struggle that requires that we remember the reasons why we are struggling; that we continue to feel that deep sense of patriotic duty that first inspired us to action and to hold to the first convictions that led us to initially denounce corruption and label it as contemptible.

(Uhuru Kenyatta is the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Finance of the Republic of Kenya)

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