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A thief to catch a thief

By James Misoka | August 10th 2012

By James Misoka

Corruption takes many forms :refusing to pay tax; paying for services not delivered; volunteering to give a bribe to expedite a matter; giving a bribe to a school official to admit your son or daughter into a school; lack of swift punishment for corrupt persons; having sex with a lecturer for a better grade and the list goes on.

The fight against corruption should be done in the minds and souls of the people. Combating corruption at a national level requires the active participation of every one.

Financial incentives

For example, our police department has been ranked as the most corrupt in Kenya. The Government has clearly outlined strategies meant to tackle this social vice that is definitely responsible for generating losses for the society and undermining the notion of justice, order, social equality and democracy. The police department is a consumer of tax-payers money rather than a contributor to the state's budget.

The government has tried to improve the lives of police officers by increasing their salary. The people who work in the police force are only motivated by financial incentives that come from the government in a form of salaries that the government sets forth in exchange for the service. Despite this effort by the government, the police department tops the list of the most corrupt.

There is no evidence that suggest that increasing government salaries has reduced bribe-taking behavior. Every government employee deserves more pay but the idea that the government can fight corruption by paying government employees more has not been proven to work.

Ineffective laws

Kenya is a country of laws. A state cannot exist without the law and justice. As soon as those two components are ruled out, the society turns into an unruly mob. The Judiciary, which has the responsibility to punish the corrupt, used to be counter-productive, time consuming, and failed to fulfill national expectation. However, the swift changes happening in the judiciary are meeting our national expectation.

Even the mighty are feeling the heat. Remember that the best law has no value if it is not enforced. The best judges and magistrates are wasted if cases are never brought to them. Good investigations are wasted effort if the judge or magistrate is corrupt.

With the new constitution in place, new laws and regulations have been introduced, but this would not help by itself. Let everyone be involved in the fight against corruption by building revulsion in the minds of the young and old people and by discussing corruption issues and its devastating effect to the society.

As a society, let’s not encourage the youth to bribe in order to get a job or join a given institution or to get out of a situation they find themselves in and encourage everyone to report incidents of corruption to the authorities. The focus should be to let the young people and the public be aware of how important it is to fight against corruption and encouraging full participation in confronting this serious social issue.

Corruption in Kenya has cost us a lot as it increases cost of doing business. In Kenya, bribes,instead of performance, determine awarding of projects. Graft causes substandard roads or buildings to be constructed, prices of consumer goods to go up and leads to less pay for farm products.

A theif to catch a theif

Since corruption has proven impossible to eradicate in our beloved country, I have my own crude way that we can try to use to catch corrupt individuals.  I call it “Use corruption to catch corruption”.

Every legal tender note or currency has a number printed on it. No one will ever know the number on the notes or money that I have in my pocket, not even myself. If you get someone who needs a bribe, just take down the number on the notes you have before you give it to him/her.

Then inform the authority of the transaction that is about to take place and ask them to be close by. Immediately the bribe is taken, let the authority detain him/ her and search for all the notes he/she has in his/her pocket/wallet.If they match with your numbers, Boom!

The person is arrested. Some may ask how one would motivate honest citizens to participate in this kind of activity? Well, you assure them that as a result they will be served without bribing, that people demandingwill be fired and i the government should make it mandatory that you get employed in the same position as the bribe taker or be employed in that department or if you have a good job elsewhere, that person should be fined and you get ten times the amount of money he/she wanted to take from you.

The government should also set aside some money to be used for this purpose to catch corrupt officials as well as pass laws specifically related to use corruption to catch corruption that will be used in court to prosecute the offenders.

The offender should also be jailed the number of years equivalent to the amount of money he/she wanted to be bribed with. If he/she demands a bribe of Ksh. 6,000, he/she should be jailed for 6,000 years.

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