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CHERAMBOS: When benevolence is announced on rooftops, it becomes showbiz

Tuesday October 22 2019

catholic church

Catholic Bishops sign a commitment document to fight corruption during the National Prayer Day at Subukia Shrine in Nakuru County on October 5, 2019. PHOTO | FRANCIS MUREITHI | NATION MEDIA GROUP 

MICHAEL CHERAMBOS
By MICHAEL CHERAMBOS
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The Catholic Church’s recent announcement at Subukia Shrine in Nakuru County marks the beginning of a major progress for the national anti-corruption campaign.

In parallel to President Uhuru Kenyatta’s initiative, the Catholic Church in Kenya has launched a six-month anti-corruption campaign aimed at rooting out church donations earned by ill-gotten, under the table deals.

The Bible is full of verses that educate us about the benefits and rewards of living a righteous, honest life. It also warns us of the punishments that are to come if we opt for a life of sin and gains made at the expense of others.

Romans 13:4 provide us with just one example: “But if you are doing what is bad, be in fear, for it is not without purpose that it bears the sword. It is God’s minister, an avenger to express wrath against the one practicing what is bad”. 

INVESTIGATION

As we have seen since the launch of the campaign, many high-profile figures under investigation for corruption have faced the possibility of jail time or other legal punishments.

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Kiambu Governor Ferdinand Waititu, his Nairobi counterpart Mike Sonko and Treasury Cabinet Secretary Henry Rotich are just but an example of a handful powerful leaders that have been investigated

for how they became wealthy while working as servants of the State. The source of their wealth is quite dubious, but I will leave the final judgement to God.

The initiative by the Catholic Church, which will see corruption desks opened at churches across the country, will give Uhuru’s campaign a pivotal thrust in the right direction.

Members of the community can report cases of corruption and will be required to declare their intention to fight this sin in the workplace.

The faithful will also be able to renew baptismal vows all over the country.

With Kenya’s modern, democratic system of governance, state and religion are fully separated. However, support from the Church is a welcome move when it comes to cracking down on graft.

We are a nation of religious, God-fearing people - as Catholics, Protestants, Muslims, Hindus, or other creeds.

What unifies Kenyans of all these religions is that we ultimately want what is best for our families, our communities and our country.

WEALTHY

And all religions recognise that corruption is wrong, that it is destructive and that it is an unscrupulous endeavour that lines the pockets of the wealthy to the detriment of the poor.

The Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission (EACC) lauded the move and called for other religious groups in Kenya to join the struggle. 

According to the Church leadership, it will no longer accept huge cash donations at fundraising events. Instead, electronic transfers will be used to collect donations, making the money trackable and thus more transparent.

All monetary gifts exceeding Sh50,000 will be recorded with an accompanying letter of acknowledgement, and political speeches will be forbidden in church.

Accountability is key to keeping track of cash flows, and paired with the recent move to take Sh1,000 notes out of circulation, will prevent money launderers from hiding their money.

Large cash donations to the church have been, especially, evident in recent months by politicians doing more politicking than worshipping. While the 2022 elections are still far away, we have seen many government officials making their donations public on social media.

While financial donations are a most welcome contribution to any religious community, using it as a way to gain followers ahead of elections is simply a sin.

BIG FOUR

If these leaders were really so humble and pious, they would be making the donations in private - an expression of faith exclusively between the individual and God. 

But Kenyans on social media are not foolish. Judging by the comments on such posts, we see right through the ploy. And so does the church. There is no excuse for using a religious institution as a channel for dirty money. 

According to the US ambassador Kyle McCarter, $8 billion (Sh800bn) is lost annually to graft. That is money that could be used for large scale infrastructure and development projects, funds that could be allocated to the Big Four. 

But we are slowly fixing the problem. Now that non-political communities are on board, it is only a matter of time before the collapse of our corruption problem.

My faith in Christianity has never wavered, and neither will my faith in good leadership, like the kind being exhibited by Uhuru.

Mr Cherambos comments on topical issues. [email protected]

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