NAIROBI, Kenya, Feb 24 – Whereas corruption is a dangerous trend that every Kenyan condemns, survey findings released on Thursday indicated that most Kenyans are willing to accept and offer bribes though they know it is a criminal offense.
The survey revealed that corruption is deeply rooted in the society with 56 per cent of the 514 respondents interviewed in ten counties confessing that they had received bribes in exchange for their vote.
“The survey findings further indicate that over 70 per cent of respondents across all the 10 counties were aware that voter bribery is an offense and punishable by law. Yet over 50 per cent of respondents in all the 10 counties indicated that they have received bribes, this points to a heightened disregard for the rule of law and trashing of value systems,” the report deemed.
Konrad Adenauer Stiftung Country Representative Dr Jan Cernicky said the research showed that the bribes received mostly did not add value to the life of the voter.
“Voter bribery in Kenya is a reality. We also found out and I was surprised about it that the bribes are not that high. Sh50, what will you buy with Sh50 even if you are really poor, does it help out of poverty?” he wondered.
The research commissioned by Centre for Multi-Party Democracy (CMD) and the German NGO indicated that Bomet County had the highest number of voters bribed by political aspirants while Migori County had the lowest voter bribery at 41.5 per cent out of the ten counties.
The ten counties polled are Kiambu, Trans-Nzoia, Kakamega, Kisumu, Machakos, Nakuru, Bomet, Meru, Migori and Kilifi.
CMD Chairman Omingo Magara regretted that Kenyans had accepted voter bribery as per course yet they knew it was a harmful practice for the country.
“We have submitted to fate and said it is normal to be corrupt, it is normal to be given a bribe,” he said.
An explanation given for widespread and continued voter bribery was that there was no legal action or consequences of engaging in the vice.
Those who receive the bribes, the report shows, believe that aspirants offering them bribes are corrupt and money given to them are proceeds of corruption.
The research conducted between April and June also indicates that voters thought aspirants with money were best placed to care for them when they get the seats.
The research further traced that bribes offered to voters was money stemming from corruption.
According to the research, voter bribery does not always translate into votes as those who reported taking bribes did not always vote as induced.
“Whereas most of the respondents had received a bribe, not all of them agreed that voter bribery influences the choice of a political candidate. This implies that some voters often take the money from aspirants not necessarily so that they vote for them, but because they may wish to take the money for other reasons. It may also mean that some voters could be in the business of collecting money from various political aspirants as long as such aspirants are also in the business of distributing the money,” the research stated.
As Kenyans turn their eyes to the investigating, implementing and prosecuting agencies, Faith Oloo, a Legal Officer in the Ombudsman’s Office made a call to every Kenyan to make an effort to refuse to bribe or refuse to accept a bribe as a contribution to the fight against corruption.