The anti-corruption struggle is an overdue initiative. We all must get behind it. Not only is corruption eating away at the very foundations of our society, but it damages any hope of real growth or progress. It has consumed billions and is leaving a stain on our own development and international standing. We can never truly be open to the world until this widespread graft is finally dealt with.
The fruits of the handshake
The handshake which underpinned this new drive is howevermore than a handshake. It is a statement of unity of purpose. It shows that only by working together can we make real change. It also shows just how serious the problem must be, if it could finally bring Uhuru and Raila, the “Kenyatta clan”and the “Odigna clan”, the Montagues and the Capulets of Kenya, back on the same page.
Let’s remember where we have come from. This time last year we were at the peak of a vicious campaign. Fake news was being spread by both sides. Malicious rumours were underpinned by the social media revolution to create a truly divisive atmosphere. Memes, Gifs, and Videos. Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. Every channel possible was used to spread propaganda. The nation was thus left polarised.
The election was messy, and following the Supreme Court’s bombshell, we were plunged into chaos. We had an inaugurated president. But we also had a self-inaugurated unofficial people’s president.
We had Uhuru calling for a united Kenya. And we had Raila calling for a new independent state of Western Kenya. While Raila’s acts were viewed as nothing short of treasonous, Uhuru was seen by the Luo and Luhya, and by large sections of the urban population as wholly illegitimate. It appeared as if there was no way of bridging these gaps.
It was as if even if we were to remain as one official sovereign state, the people would forever be split up by the tribalism of their leaders. That is why the handshake and the joint initiative to tackle graft is so ground-breaking. Raila and Uhuru have come together over an existential issue for the future of our nation.
Indeed, this to some extent, mirrors the transition of Uhuru and DP Ruto, from foes to allies. Following the PEV of 2007, these two were facing a tricky future. We all know the story. The leaders had been on opposing sides, representing two of our largest tribes, Kikuyu and Kalenjin. Did they incite to violence? Were they responsible? Who said what?
The debates have been bashed out now for over a decade. However, as soon as it became clear that the polarization was a real threat to Kenya as a whole, to our entire political leadership, Uhuru and Ruto came together. They united, and the world took notice.
Fighting for Kenya’s international standing, fighting against the double standards of the international community, to an extent fighting for Africa, became more important than their previous qualms with one another. They came together, they united, they defeated Raila, and the rest, as they say, is history.
Kenya was back on the map. And while this unity was nearly entirely unravelled last August, the Uhuru-Raila handshake has once again changed the narrative.
Kenya is taking its rightful place in the eyes of the international community. Of course, large structural problems remain. But the main problem holding us back is precisely the issue which led to the handshake: corruption.
Corruption affects the development of infrastructure. It hampers modernisation of healthcare, education, and manufacturing. The lack of transparency in government tenders damages competitiveness, affects the quality of projects, and discriminates against the less ‘connected’ businesses of Kenya. Corruption is therefore enriching the crooked while impoverishing the innocent masses.
We have all watched in silence for too long: We have watched while billions were stolen from the NYS; we have watched while the police in the streets use our money as their own personal bonuses. And so much more.
Just as our leaders have chosen to come together in the face of this threat. Now we, the Kenyan people must act in kind. Let’s come together to fight corruption. Only then, can the world really take us seriously.
Mr Kabando is the immediate former Mukurweini MP.
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