More than half of Kenyan youth have no qualms about making money using dubious means, according to a survey published in Nairobi on Monday.
About half of those interviewed in the study by the East African Institute said they would have no problem evading taxes or taking a bribe as long as they do not end up in jail.
According to the Kenya Youth Survey Report, 47 per cent of those interviewed said they admired the people who have made money through “hook or crook” while another 35 per cent said they would readily give or take a bribe.
Interestingly, 30 per cent of the respondents said they believed being corrupt was profitable. More men (20.6 per cent) said they admired people who acquire their money and wealth through questionable means compared with women (17.8 per cent).
TRUTH ABOUT CORRUPTION
“Our youth need to hear the truth about corruption, especially from the people and institutions they trust the most, such as family, faith leaders and educators. They need to be told that Kenya’s recent economic growth would’ve been greater if corruption were absent,” said Dr Alex Awiti, the director of the East African Institute.
During the survey conducted in October and November last year, 1,853 respondents were interviewed in Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda and Rwanda. The youngest respondent was 18 while the oldest was 35.
Presenting the report at the Serena Hotel, Dr Awiti said the data presented “important and surprising insight” and while it offered hope, it also raised deep concerns that call for urgent action.
This study showed the wide disparities between social values such as integrity and how young people perceive and apply them in their day-to-day lives.
Activist John Githongo said that although the findings were “disturbing”, they were not surprising.
“If [a] majority of our youth do not see corruption as something wrong, then we have a major failure of integrity,” he said.
“We are looking at situations where the rule of law in Kenya is eroding very quickly.”
And as the clock ticks towards the 2017 General Election, in which young people are expected to play a big role as voters or electoral workers, the report showed that four out of 10 young people would vote for a political candidate if he paid them to do so.
However, 90 per cent of those interviewed still said they considered elections to be important. Another seven in 10 said they believed voting gave them the power to make a change in society.
Overall, 62 per cent said they were vulnerable to electoral fraud.
“This is worrying because bribery can influence election outcomes, mainly the wrong way,” Dr Awiti said.
The problem was worse in the rural areas, where male respondents were found to be twice as likely to vote for a candidate who paid them compared with their urban counterparts.
Among female respondents, 40 per cent of those in rural areas were more likely to vote for a candidate who paid them, higher than their urban counterparts.
That notwithstanding, 75 per cent said they would prefer to vote for a young person.
Dr Simon Carter of the International Development Research Centre said: “The number of young people who vote only for those who paid them indicate a situation that will dilute the values of democracy”.
Some scholars were reluctant to blame the youth for the troubling findings.
Prof Gituro Wainaina, the acting director-general of Kenya Vision 2030, said: “These children look at us, the older folks, and they see the people who did not go to school, who cannot define their sources of income and the ones with the most corruption-related cases in the courts are the ones who are rich and have the respect of the public.”
However, it was not all doom and gloom. The report showed that 85 per cent of respondents regarded religion and faith as the most important things to them after families.
The family remained the most trusted institution (94 per cent), followed by religious organisations (86 per cent) and the government (65 per cent).