Even in death, corruption still stalks Kenyans

Wednesday March 16 2016

Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission chairman

Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission chairman Philip Kinisu (left) and Attorney-General Githu Muigai at the KICC in Nairobi on March 15, 2016 during the launch of the 2015 National Survey on Corruption and Ethics report. PHOTO | EVANS HABIL | NATION MEDIA GROUP 

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Corruption has become so infectious in Kenya that it does not even spare the dead.

And chances are high that the dead person, whose kin will be compelled to part with some money before a death certificate is issued, lost his life due to lack of medical services, which could not be offered without a bribe.

That corruption is so malignant was revealed on Tuesday in a survey by the Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission, which showed the level of the vice and how much ordinary folks pay bribes to be served.

The report, whose findings can be described as a bearing of the anatomy of corruption in Kenya, shows that the vice has permeated the society, deep to the bone marrow, all the way from the national government to the three-year-old counties.

The survey also found that at least 0.4 per cent of those who were interviewed said that they were required to pay a bribe before they were given a birth certificate.

A legal document issued under the Registration of Births and Deaths Act, the death certificate has become a key determinant in the rising cases of inheritance, retirement benefits, administration of estates and proof of parenthood, a fact that has not escaped the officers at the Attorney-General Chambers in Nairobi and district registries.

The findings show that when you are seeking a death certificate, you are likely to be asked five times for a bribe before you are served both at the national and county levels.

However, people seeking the release of their impounded goods face the possibility of being asked for a bribe four times while an applicant for a passport will encounter three demands for a bribe.

“Obtaining a death certificate (5.27), release of impounded goods (4.66) and application for a passport (3.15) recorded the highest bribe demands,” the survey says.

Normally, on applying for a death certificate with requisite documents, it is supposed to be issued within three days in Nairobi, Mombasa and Kisumu, while at the district registries, it should take a day.

The findings released on Tuesday show the likelihood of the cause of death could have been failure to get adequate medical services, with 20 per cent of those interviewed saying they have had to bribe before being treated.

The survey also found that at least 18.4 per cent of Kenyans pay a bribe to get a national identity card followed by birth certificates (13.4).

The two documents, the first issued by the Registrar of Persons and the second by the Registrar of Births and Deaths, are closely linked — you require the second one to get the first one.

This is why the Department of the Registrar of Persons was cited as one of the most corrupt in the survey.

Perhaps the high level of corruption involving the two stems from the influx of people from war-torn Somalia, who have been seeking Kenyan identity cards.

The Department of Immigration has come under the spotlight for this menace, accused of taking money to hand out Kenyan nationality to foreigners. Other services that Kenyans are paying bribes to get are title deeds and land registration.