Opportunists make it hard to win war against ingrained corruption

That corruption is a culture in Kenya is not in doubt. But why is the culture thriving in spite of many initiatives, including the ones spearheaded by President Uhuru Kenyatta?

We need practical faith in God, leaders who stand out to be counted and young people who refuse to watch as their future is auctioned in the black market.

First, our faith in God undoubtedly speaks for itself, right from the Constitution to the high number of Kenyans turning up in places of worship every day, every week.

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We are a God-fearing nation, something we should never lose. But, practicing that faith to promote a just and considerate society seemingly demands more than we can handle.

Corruption is largely a moral problem. By themselves, laws, however punitive, cannot stop the culture of corruption. A person must tap into one’s own conscience to realize corruption reproduces itself each time one commits a corrupt act.

The voice of God penetrates into a person’s conscience to illuminate in choosing right from wrong.

God does not make choices for us, but constantly blows unto us his spirit to help us make the right choices.

Unfortunately, given the choice between being corrupt and being attentive to God’s voice, we mostly choose the latter. How else do we explain the mega corruption among Kenyans who strongly believe in God?

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On the basis of faith, we are not anywhere near combating corruption, yet this is the one God-given gift to our nation. If well used, it can quickly and at minimal cost reduce corruption.

Religious nation

Seriously, we should be thoroughly ashamed of ourselves that the Government pumps in billions of shillings to fight a vice that majority of Kenyans know is not only wrong from a religious perspective, but is also killing the future of the young generation.

Put another way, a religious nation has no reason not to root out corruption because the destructive culture undermines the very existence of religious beliefs.

Second, while America is a land of opportunities, Kenya is a land of opportunists. We clearly love what we hate. We hate corruption, but practice it with great enthusiasm.

We perpetuate the culture because it generates an apparent good, that is, solves an immediate problem regardless of the consequences.

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A great example is the way presidential election outcomes have been violently contested since 2007.

But many opportunists never allow us a chance to soberly interrogate the process to seal loopholes that often place the country on the verge of violence and civil strife.

We are encouraged to move on “for the sake of peace”, whatever that means. The mega corruption in counties, just like the ‘parents’ at the national level, shows the kind of opportunists we elect and would do everything to sustain the cannibalising culture.

Practical ways

Third, I sometimes pity our elected leaders. They are disciples of Pontius Pilate. Most of these elected men and women are actually good intentioned people.

I must admit, by and large, they know the problems the electorate faces and have interesting practical ways in which the problems can be solved.

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But, like good Pilate, they are afraid to stand for the interests of the people who elected them. I have not met or heard of any person baptised or nicknamed Pilate; the ‘Chief Justice’ who reluctantly allowed Jesus to be crucified even when he knew that the man whose blood the crowd was baying for was innocent.

The gentleman was actually a very good person who desired to do what was right. His conscience tormented him a lot as he made the regrettable decision to have Jesus crucified.

The reason we do not name children after him is that he chickened out of duty at the most critical hour of his career.

Like Pilate, our elected leaders wash their hands somewhere in those legislative floors choosing to do what most know is wrong at the expense of what is right for the common good. What a cruel reality!

Third, it is very encouraging to see some young people mobilise themselves, especially through social media to condemn corruption.

However, it is a pity that when some of them gathered recently at Uhuru Park to denounce looting of public resources they were quickly rounded up and dispersed.

Young people must have space to protect this country from insensitive adults who want to mortgage their future through corrupt practices.

In this regard, President Uhuru Kenyatta stands out to be counted as a great inspiration for the youngsters by singling out corruption as a cancer in the national fabric.

His bold steps to tackle corruption will be greatly enhanced if he involves young people in tackling the culture.

It is in our national interest to use the resources at our disposal to fight corruption – in particular against opportunism – namely; practical faith, truth and the energies of the young people.

Dr Mokua is Executive Director – Jesuit Hakimani Centre

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Jesuit Hakimani CentrePresident Uhuru KenyattaCorruption