The recent public hearings regarding the Uasin Gishu County scholarship scam is a source of both hope and despair.
The bravery of the youth to confront their leaders who swindled them is commendable evidence that future generations will not take misgovernance in silence.
However, the damning evidence also shows just how low our leaders will sink to steal from us knowing that they will most likely get away with it. Why do we keep producing heartless leaders like this?
Details of the case are gut-wrenching. Officials in the county government are alleged to have absconded with almost a billion shillings meant for university fees.
The whole arrangement allegedly operated like a ponzi scheme whereby new students’ fees would be channeled to pay for those already enrolled in Finnish universities.
Eventually, there was not enough money to pay for all the students, including those who had already paid into the scheme.
For a long time, the accused county officials were able to escape unscathed, even though the case was common knowledge. This was all because the suspected scammers were well-connected senior politicians.
It took concerted effort from their victims and the media for the relevant authorities to investigate the matter.
No one is yet to be formally charged with any crimes.
Even if we assume that the accused acted in good faith, the flawed design of their ponzi scheme betrays their unfitness for office. Is this the best that they could do?
Every day that passes is a reminder that Kenyans are essentially on their own. We have political elites who are unmoored in every sense of the world.
They are unmoored from any religious or ethical constraints, otherwise their profession of religiosity would translate into doing good in the world.
They are also unmoored from social norms imposed by family and friends, otherwise the shame of being exposed as a thief would make them avoid the vice.
In fact, such friends tend to celebrate theft. Finally, they are unmoored politically. Our political system scarcely punishes thieves. Instead, we typically elect them to higher offices.
Given the stakes involved, if the accused manage to escape any accountability for this scandal it will be yet again another reminder that political connections and ethnicity can overcome criminal activity.
Such an eventuality would add to our national cynicism, especially among the youth.
The writer is an Associate Professor at Georgetown University