Nyakang'o spills the beans on public and private corruption

Controller of Budget Margaret Nyakang’o when she appeared before the Senate Standing committee on Finance and Budget payment of pending bills on March 30, 2023. [Elvis Ogina, Standard]

The Controller of Budget Margaret Nyakang’o brought us back again to budgeted corruption in government. However, there was nothing new about it except that it now came from what we would consider the horse’s mouth.

Being the Controller of Budget, Dr Nyakang’o knows far much more than she can admit publicly. If the EACC is serious about fighting corruption, she should have an invite already.

However, it is highly unlikely that would happen. What Nyakang’o was reiterating is that corruption in government is not by omission but by commission. If there exist any gaps that facilitate corruption, they exist by design.

While on Spice FM former Kiambu governor William Kabogo spoke about how he found out that a bottle of water was being tendered at Sh300. That is nearly twice its market price. That was just one product in one department.

This brings back the memory of the famous Bungoma wheelbarrows said to have been budgeted at Sh100,000 each.

Corruption seems to be ingrained in people and they will only behave angelic for lack of opportunity. People will complain and decry corruption because they are not on the table. The moment they get on the table, they become accomplices.

Corruption es attractive porque it is the corrupt that live good lives. It is the corrupt that drive the latest cars, live in splendid mansions and take their kids to the best schools in town. Sadly, those who enter such offices and stick to the straight do not end up as heroes but a laughing stock to those who believe they misused their opportunity to eat.

To deal with corruption, this mentality must change. We must not just fill our prisons with petty thieves while those who have stolen billions move around scot free. Corruption has denied people their most basic needs such as quality healthcare, education and means of livelihoods.

The current generation must be made to abhor corruption by having many examples of how corruption is punished and honesty and integrity rewarded. Our curriculum must give special focus to this topic. The efforts to deal with corruption must also not just target the public service. There is equally a need to focus on corruption in private enterprises. The private sector has a bigger number of Kenyans than the government and any disruption on that front threatens their livelihoods.

According to the numbers from various economic surveys, the private sector caters for close to 70 per cent of Kenyans employed. Corruption in the private sector, just as in public service, takes many forms; fraud, embezzlement, fraud and patronage.

Many giant businesses have gone down in Kenya in the last few years where all arrows point to a group of profiteers at the top. Embezzlement creates a picture of a failing organisation. What do failing organisations do? They render employees redundant, force them to take pay cuts or just close shop.

-The writer is anchor at Radio Maisha