Former World Bank President Jim Yong Kim coined the phrase the ‘Science of Delivery’ in relation to how governments ought to hasten and effectively deliver services. The fight against corruption should be viewed as a form of service delivery since it entails enforcement and compliance of the law.
The war on corruption is not a stand-alone matter; it needs to be mainstreamed in all sectors of government operations. Through the advice of former British Prime Minister Tony Blair, Kenya set up a delivery unit to oversee speedy implementation of the Government manifesto.
However, while the architect of the Delivery Unit concept succeeded in bringing progress to his country through identifying his government’s priorities, in Kenya, our priorities are not clear and this might make it difficult to realize the big four agenda.
The Big Four agenda is a noble plan, but even more important is the need to curtail pilferage because any investment in the big four, if not well guarded, shall lead to theft. The delivery unit at State House should, therefore, have identified the fight against corruption as pillar one of the big 4 agendas and remove affordable housing. I have a feeling this ambitious goal might not be realised in our lifetime if corruption is not tackled.
Many Kenyans have lost faith in the war against corruption. The report by Africog, “State Capture: Inside Kenya’s Inability to fight Corruption”, sums it up by declaring that the effort by the Government is modest when set against the scale of corruption. However, contrary to the popular belief, Kenya has not always been a bastion of corruption. During the early years after independence, the governance structures were more solid.
The National Archives have stories about the times during President Jomo Kenyatta’s administration in the 1960s when senior government officials were forced to repay imprest that was not accounted for. Jomo Kenyatta’s government never tolerated senior government officials who gave donations that were not commensurate with their salaries. Today, culprits get court injunctions and frustrate the due process of law. Recently, there was a blame game between the Executive and the Judiciary over who is the blame for the failure to fight corruption. However, the failure to fight corruption is not just about the judiciary, criminal investigation or the Ethics and Anti-Corruption agency.
The Africog report demonstrates how the power elites have captured the Presidency and the Treasury. Therefore, most top government officials are on the same side when it comes to fighting corruption since they are beneficiaries. The State institutions are ineffective because they are not independent as envisioned in the constitution. All these agencies are answerable to the Presidency, meaning they lack the muscle to prosecute sensitive cases or easily get their cut.
Kenyans are divided into two categories; the lords of corruption and the victims. Majority of the citizens are victims but a small percentage of elites have, it seems, conspired to impoverish the majority by placing themselves strategically to continue benefiting from the loot of state funds. Like in Ngugi Wa Thiongo’s classic novel “The River Between”, contemporary Kenyans are in dire need of a farsighted individual who can bridge the gap between the two categories of people.
In his book, Ngugi describes two neighbouring mountain ridges in Kenya during the early years of White Settlement. This was a division between two Gikuyu communities. The Gikuyu people were torn between those who were drawn to the new comer’s Christian faith and those holding to their people’s magical customs.
In the midst of this disunity, a young leader by the name Waiyaki was born who saw very far and tried to unite the people by curing the minds of those who accepted to be colonised. The start of the struggle for independence, in fact, started with Waiyaki. Corruption is not any different from colonialism.
It has divided the Kenyans into haves and have not. To win the war against corruption requires just more than apprehending people on Friday and taking them to court on Monday. Both the corrupt and the victims of corruption need healing similar to that of Waiyaki’s attempt to bridge the gap. The issue is beyond morality and legality of corruption, it has the potential to explode and lead to an uprising.The consequences of not arresting corruption shall by far outweigh the short term benefits to a few individuals.
Mr Guleid is the Executive Director of the Frontier Counties Development Council.