Only one way to deal with corruption

Monday March 28 2016

Integrity Centre in Nairobi which houses Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission offices. PHOTO | SALATON NJAU | NATION MEDIA GROUP

Integrity Centre in Nairobi which houses Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission offices. PHOTO | SALATON NJAU | NATION MEDIA GROUP 


The National Ethics and Corruption Survey 2015 conducted by the Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission on the state of corruption in the country was released with pomp and colour. Choirs were brought in to entertain the guests. Was there a luncheon afterwards? I do not know, but what type of host would Mr Philip Kinisu be if he sent away the guests hungry?

As the figures rolled out on how we have sunk into the bottomless pit of corruption, the stony faces of the invited guests pained me. What I had expected was wailing and a free flow of tears from Mr Kinisu and his guests as they mourned the havoc that corruption has wreaked on our country.

Not only have we lost resources and precious life through this malaise, we have lost our pride as a nation and the drive that makes Kenyans eager to wake up every morning.

There is nothing to motivate a student to arise at first cock crow if he knows that he will have access to a complete set of KCPE or KCSE examination papers well in advance.

On the other hand, any honest hard working student will be disillusioned with the suspicion that some of his fellow candidates have access to the papers. Woe unto such a student if he is in a school where an exam leek has been detected. His hard-earned grades could be cancelled together with those of the cheats.

Back in my village, money has been paid for chemicals which were never supplied to our cattle dip. The cost of gravelling a road is almost the same as that for tarring it. Nairobi, the city that used to be in the sun before it was overrun by garbage and graft, is doing no better. Almost every arm of the government is wobbling under allegations of graft.

A biro pen that is sold for Sh10 in the ground floor kiosk of a government building is delivered upstairs at the price of Sh100.

Money meant for the purchase of drugs for our hospitals has been stolen while the few medications that reach the facilities are sold in private chemists, leaving poor patients to die from diseases that can be easily treated.

Illicit brew is transported freely through road blocks manned by police officers who go blind at the sight of a Sh50 note as people die and literary go blind after consuming the liquor.

In short, those who attended the launch of the report should have been in mourning. Instead of the entertainment, professional mourners should have been hired to create a solemn mood. Instead, the occasion was turned into a sort of celebration of our uninspiring performance in the fight against corruption.


How many people in that auditorium have in the past five years sought treatment at a local dispensary, where patients are sent a way to buy an exercise book in which the clinical officer will write their diagnosis, stationery that should be available for free?

Another question that may never be answered is how much the survey and the ceremony cost. I suspect the bill ran into millions. Was this money spent wisely by an institution that claims to be under-funded? Who in Kenya does not know that policemen are taking bribes all the way from the road blocks to the police stations?

Many Kenyans know the government offices where one is likely to be asked for kitu kidogo and, sadly, many go there ready to pay the bribe. This is the simple truth about corruption in Kenya and there was no need to spend millions to “unearth” it.

This nation is in a crisis and we need emergency services to plug the plunder of public resources. There are hundreds of corruption cases and all that the EACC needs to do is to haul the criminals to court. The EACC cannot afford these ceremonies, seminars, parties, conferences, or whatever you may call these activities it is engaging in.

There are thousands of cases to investigate and I imagine that its officers should hardly have time to break for lunch.

The only justification for carrying out such a survey is to pinpoint the most corrupt organisation in Kenya. Like a fisherman, this information should determine the spot at which the net to catch the thieves should be thrown. We do not need rankings in corruption. What we need to know is the number of criminals the agency has sent to prison.

It is the duty of every Kenya to fight this cancer of corruption. After all, it is Kenyans who do the bribing. The EACC needs all the support it can get.

Mr Kariuki is a hotelier based in Thika and an author. [email protected]