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The 'brotherhood' that makes fight against graft difficult

Politicians defend graft suspects passionately, making it difficult to isolate the actual corruption cases, political set-ups, and vendettas. [iStockphoto]

United States President Joe Biden, once said, "Corruption is a cancer, a cancer that eats away at a citizen's faith in democracy..."

How can we have faith in democracy if cartels have formed a corrupt 'brotherhood' to protect one another? There is enough evidence that the 'brotherhood' makes it hard for anti-corruption agencies to fight the menace in Kenya.

Corruption 'brotherhood', I can say, involves protecting allies and associates from being held accountable for theft, mismanagement and plunder of public resources. The reason corruption is rampant in our country is not because of a lack of functional structures.

We, indeed, have established anti-corruption agencies and dotted our countryside with 'no corruption zone' signages. We have formed commissions of inquiries too. We perhaps should also have commissions to investigate corruption within anti-corruption agencies!

However, we will never move forward unless we strangle the corruption 'brotherhood' strongholds that make it difficult for our anti-corruption agencies to perform their duties. Recent reports of top politicians implicated in multi-billion corruption scandals blaming their tribulations on politics indicate that the rot has a stiff neck.

Former Uasin Gishu governor Jackson Mandago is on the spot with three others over the Finland and Canada education programme, whose over Sh1.1 billion is missing. It is a case that could drag the county government into taking responsibility for the actions of its former boss.

Further, on Wednesday, Ethics and Anticorruption Commission detectives grilled the former Kakamega Governor Wycliffe Oparanya concerning the alleged embezzlement of Sh1.3 billion through proxies and close associates during his two-term tenure.

In the case of Uasin Gishu, the former governor, ODM leader, and the Opposition opined that Mandago's not an isolated case - that there were more severe cases of public funds theft in the current regime.

However, the same Opposition has formed the most potent firewall to defend former Kakamega Governor, their political 'brother', against corruption allegations, calling it political witch-hunt.

Similarly, on Wednesday, Youth Affairs, Arts and Sports Cabinet Secretary Ababu Namwamba was grilled in Parliament, where the legislators faulted his leadership at the ministry that they said had led to neglect of our sportsmen and women.

On this one, some political strategists have alleged that accusations against Mr Namwamba are political denigration and persecution. Interestingly, Mr Namwamba's sympathisers argue that the issues bedevilling him emanate from politicians rather than the sportsmen and women.

The cases of Mandago and Oparanya are sites for understanding how corruption 'brotherhood' operates in the government and the Opposition sides. Nawamba's case indicates that we have lost confidence in politicians initiating allegations of corruption--the experiences we have of them make them test positive for political witch-hunt.

We are privy to allegations of weaponisation of war against corruption in the current and the former regimes. In most cases, when politicians find themselves on the wrong side of the law, especially on economic crimes, they quickly blame it on political witch-hunt.

They do so through political, ethnic and tribal proxies alleging that their 'own' is being persecuted - the underlining claims become 'our people', 'our party', 'our political side' and 'our political party' is being targeted.

Such diversionary approaches have made it difficult for anti-corruption agencies to hold persons accountable for the mismanagement of public funds in national and county governments and other government organs.

It is evident that politicians and politics are the chief impediments to the fight against corruption. Politicians defend graft suspects passionately, making it difficult to isolate the actual corruption cases, political set-ups, and vendettas.

-Dr Ndonye is a senior lecturer, Department of Mass Communication, Kabarak University