Extraordinary challenges call for extraordinary solutions. Corruption in Kenya has become so bad that there is a need for extraordinary measures to tame the beast.
The legal rule that one is ‘innocent till proven guilty’ has lost its meaning when it comes to corrupt Kenyan politicians. This is a rule that works in an environment where the majority of its citizens are law-abiding. It’s crucial, in such a scenario, to apply caution in order not to harm the interests and rights of those that get out of line.
In Kenya’s sense, corruption has become our religion. Despite many Kenyans thronging houses of worship, corruption thrives. The so-called religious society would not be so corrupt to a point of denying others their right to a decent form of life. We don’t have a high unemployment rate, deaths from preventable diseases and record illiteracy and poverty because of God’s curse but for men and women who believe in harming everyone else to get rich through embezzlement.
There is scheme after scheme being churned out to make it easier for corrupt politicians to determine their fate contrary to the law. The latest push between the very agencies that vet for integrity to make it easier for corrupt political aspirants to get an easy ride to positions of influence is an insult to hardworking voters.
Allowing corrupt individuals, be it a politician or otherwise, the opportunity to aspire to an office where they can pull strings to save their skin from criminal charges is nothing but corruption and complicity on the part of the vetting and prosecuting agencies.
Kenya is not a conventional country when it comes to respect for the rule of law, impunity and corruption scourge. Laws and rules work in conventional societies. Ours is not and will not be a conventional society respectful of the rule of law until we get rid of corruption and impunity. The two cannot be ended in Kenya if we keep giving corrupt people a soft landing and flexible due process.
If not now, then when? And by that, I mean, if we don’t sift criminals from honest aspirants at the nomination stage, then it can’t happen at the ballot box. It’s too late by the time voters—whom, through coercion or bribe, would be forced to vote on whoever is in front of them— turn up. ‘Six-piece-suit’ voting isn’t an accidental thought but a conniving way to cajole voters to think the way of a political party rather than their wishes. And this is where IEBC, EACC and ODPP come in—to save the voters from political parties that are captured by corrupt politicians.
Mike Sonko aspiring to be Governor for Mombasa despite being banned by the USA and facing corruption charges is a case in point. Wiper party should be ashamed. Deputy Presidential ‘candidate’ Kalonzo Musyoka is showing his hand by giving the likes of Sonko a nomination ticket. It means he stands with corruption and corrupt individuals. This translates to him, in the eyes of the public, being corrupt, lest he didn’t know.
There’s always the idea of ‘zero tolerance’ to crime and the government is prepared to kill low-level criminals with a view to ending muggings, break-ins, robbery and so forth. There must now also be ‘zero tolerance’ to corruption by suspending the status quo and keeping all those with clouds of corruption hanging over them away from anywhere near the ballot paper. A whiff of corruption should be enough to knock people out of elective posts if we’re serious about saving Kenya from corruption.
The threshold for integrity vetting for those charged with corruption and impunity should be lowered to sanitise our politics. It’s illegal, and unethical, to freeze a corrupt politician’s legal case so that they can have time to campaign. To accept the view that corruption is used to knock out rivals is too convenient.
What should wait should be the corrupt suspects and not the due process of the law. If we can suspend the justice system for corrupt politicians, then we must suspend it for all criminal suspects. It is only fair and just.
Nobody charged with crime should have the right to draw the timetable to their proceedings. That goes for politicians too. Due process of the law should take precedence for both the poor criminal and the politician criminal. Anybody, even slightly implicated, charged or convicted of corruption and impunity, should be nowhere near a public or state office.
It’s a crucial move to weaken their influence on society and the justice system. Corrupt aspirants are not aspiring to lead but to continue their embezzlement streak and have the powers to frustrate the due process of the law.
The electoral commission, anti-corruption authority and chief prosecutor may say they have no legal duty to challenge aspirants implicated in corruption and impunity. But I tell them here that they have moral and ethical duties to save the public from corruption and not corrupt politicians from jail. Chapter Six of the Constitution is easier to apply. The ‘legal’ discretions are just euphemisms for corruption.
By Kaltum D. Guyo- Legal researcher