Former President Daniel Arap Moi would continuously lament that corruption was a barrier to his dream of nurturing a robust and sustainable state that could feed the masses and compete with other economies at a global scale.
While laying the foundation stone for the New Kapsabet AIC church station in Nandi in 2016 he stated, “Corruption is bad…I am appealing to all Christians to help the government eliminate this bad thing…if you are a senior government official anywhere, please help in stopping this bad thing that is giving the government a bad image.”
Years later, citizens are still grappling with the challenges of corruption. Corruption is now a perennial debate that is hard to ignore. It has grown from a complex mix of socio-political and economic factors to a menace that is fanned by nepotism, lack of public goodwill, and lacks of accountability structures.
We are reminded of incidents like that of the infamous receptionist at the National Health Insurance Fund whose fortune was allegedly built on remittances from sickly Kenyans. Many other rent-seekers live within our midst and we are repeatedly awe-struck about their rags to riches stories. The deep and widespread tentacles of corruption in our society are hinged on our long-term socialization into the culture of sleaze. Oftentimes, the revelations on corruption are met with uninspired lamentations on the streets and social media.
All is not lost, however. There is political goodwill at the highest offices with President Uhuru at the forefront in the fight against corruption. In the past, it was unfathomable to see cabinet secretaries in the docks over abuse of office. That even elected leaders can lose their seats over corruption is something we couldn’t have imagined ten years ago.
It behooves us to introspect on our role in the ongoing war against corruption. Just how much money does the country lose when we fail to pay for public goods and services? At what point do we improve on our service delivery when we choose to pay for services that should otherwise be free? What would happen for instance, if all matatu drivers stopped giving bribes to police officers along our roads?
As a society, we can unlearn certain vices and inculcate the culture of proactivity in the war against graft. Singapore for example has maintained its top ten rankings in the Transparency International annual Corruption Perception Index (CPI) because its citizens frown upon sleaze. They collectively expect good service as a right, as opposed to a privilege.
They further understand that paying bribes for services does not necessarily equal quality service delivery. Interestingly, previous perception surveys by the EACC have noted that at least one in every three people seeking public services would offer a bribe. Yet, even after paying their way around it, a huge percentage of those respondents still feel dissatisfied with the services they obtained.
Consequently, the Presidency, ODPP, DCI, and even the Judiciary need our unequivocal support in enhancing transparency and accountability within the country. We should refuse to be mere observers in the fight against corruption because graft thrives when the people tolerate it.