By GRACE NAKATO
Government is not a good payer even when collecting money hand over fist, thus fostering a culture of something called corruption, as the citizens struggle to make ends meet.
At this time of the year, traders are stocking up in readiness for the long holiday season. And again, we have numerous corporate events, weddings and introduction ceremonies (read dowry payment).
What this means is that business is booming and, therefore, incomes are upwardly mobile, especially in the border towns. The fumes from the trucks have caused serious environmental degradation whose effects can be seen in the local population during times of stress.
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Government has always ensured that the right hand knows what the left hand is doing by ensuring there is adequate number of signatories to government accounts.
The tax collections of July cumulated to the tidy sum of Sh8 million and had been earmarked for construction, garbage collection and an upgrade of the road, which those of you who have crossed through in the rainy season, know is no better than a cattle track.
But the Malaba town clerk and his deputy colluded with the auditor, a clerk to council and the town engineer. They looked at the lump and figured that salary arrears, fumigation and “further studies” were more immediate concerns and promptly pocketed Sh5 million. When the directorate of public prosecution came calling and accused them of abuse of office and embezzlement, they high tailed it out of town to allow the odour to waft down.
Malaba is a very lucrative post and the big number of trucks and goods being cleared mean that another huge deposit will be recorded. This tempted the town clerk to creep back into town last week. The long arm of the law was, however, slow in extending a greeting.
And an angry mob of 20 tax collectors who had not seen any salaries since May, were the first to welcome him back to office. The gang promptly locked the office and stripped him of his tie, coat and shirt and threatened to lynch him if he did not pay their dues.
The lugambo (gossip) reaching this desk reported that his mobile phone was confiscated “to prevent him making unnecessary calls to police and instead focus on paying their salaries”.
The security personnel deployed at the post vanished from the scene like rats bailing out of a sinking ship. I do not blame them because a peaceful mob needs only a tiny spark to transform into a marauding lynch mob.
I am sure the town clerk had never been so happy to be arrested and locked up in the cells.
Striking teachers and lecturers should pick a leaf from the Malaba folk and divert the monies paid into the school accounts into their own coffers. It is easier to say sorry than to ask for permission.
The wheels of justice are rusty, and the case may take years to be brought to book as the offenders enjoy the monies while out on bail. These things happen, you know.