Wednesday, 13 June 2018

Of Whales, Sharks, the Big Fish & the Small Fish: On Kenya’s State of Corruption

Image: Courtesy. 
The same administration, the same storyline, the same state of affairs! That is the Jubilee administration for you folks! The recent revelations of the grand looting at the National Youth Service (NYS), and at the National Cereals and Produce Board (NCPB) among other scams are a reminder of the failures and incompetence of the Jubilee administration.

I’m not engaging in a kind of a guns-blazing-no-holds-barred attack against the purported government of the majority, whose legitimacy is a knife-edge question, but undertaking an almost saintly act of expressing my disenchantment regarding the theft of public funds and immorality at the heart of government institutions.

It is immoral to embezzle resources that belong to the public. For the last five years, there is no doubt whatsoever that the Jubilee administration has presided over world class corruption and unrivalled immorality.

Recently, the Principal Secretary of the Interior Ministry, Karanja Kibicho, admitted that in the last five years corruption has gone up by 240%. One wonders how such public theft occurs while no individuals can be held accountable.

Normally, an incident of theft requires an agent before it is sanctioned and in due course materializes. This raises a fundamental concern in regards to why perpetrators of these scams especially under the Jubilee administration are yet to be jailed. Does it mean that corruption involving government agencies involves faceless individuals?

Kenya, under the rule of the Jubilee administration is a total joke, and as a matter of fact it can hardly be thought of as a country let alone a nation. And to set the record straight, Kenya cannot be thought of as a nation.

In fact, Kenya has only flirted with the state of nationhood thrice: the first time at the dawn of independence; the second time in 2002/2003 when NARC took over; and in 2010 following the promulgation of the current constitution.

Going by the political definition of the term ‘country’, Kenya does not qualify as one because of the immorality sanctioned by government officers in the form of plundering resources. Thus, Kenya is a den of corruption and a haven to the corrupt. This is the major reason why the proceeds from the economy only benefit a few individuals and not the majority.

Yes to Vice, No to Virtue
Profiting from vice is the order of the day in Kenya and this is an indication of a society characterized by systemic failure. The high affinity to vice than virtue in Kenya is not just a black spot for the public sector as the private sector is equally corrupt.

From the so-called whales, sharks, the big fish to the small fish of the rungs of the Kenyan society, the vice of corruption rules; its tentacles are widely spread and the culture is deeply entrenched.

Corruption has evolved over the years and it has become a national culture. Even with a constitution that lays a lot of emphasis on integrity, efforts to de-institutionalize the culture of corruption have proven to be futile.

It is nonsensical to have a government that is dominated with robber barons, individuals whose main motive is to speculate how they can orchestrate looting of public resources and from where.

We should not forget that by the term government reference is drawn to the national government and the county governments including their various arms. For instance, at the national level we have the Executive, Parliament and Judiciary. At the county level, we have the county assemblies and the county executives.

Sadly, these organs are dominated by people who are short of character, and in any case they would hardly meet the threshold of occupying state offices in countries or nations that are serious democracies and where integrity is highly regarded.

But, with a saintly reflection it is clear that citizens have given consent to the culture of corruption to permeate in the Republic. Look, majority of the citizens – those eligible to vote – are either compromised and vote for the wrong people or do not vote at all hence allowing the corrupt to be elected in office.

Kenya began its post-independence journey on a path that can be described as evil, highly immoral and certainly vicious. The Jomo Kenyatta-led administration was full of individuals whose desire was to amass wealth at the expense of fighting poverty, disease and ignorance – the main challenges that Kenyans faced at the dawn of independence.

Unfortunately, the three challenges still bedevil the Republic primarily due to corruption that has been handed down in ceremonious fashion from the Jomo Kenyatta regime, to the perpetually corrupt Moi regime, to the Kibaki administration and to the current rogue and fundamentally corrupt Jubilee administration.

Dealing with corruption in the Republic calls for not only upholding the rule of law but also advocating for a culture change in the various levels and classes of the Kenyan society. This means in essence that the social aspects need to be looked at to ensure that Kenyans begin to endear themselves to virtue and not vice.

For instance, the role of the family in the socialization and enculturation process of an individual needs to be revisited. Nowadays, the family is a neglected institution that no longer imparts the socially approved morals like integrity and being mindful of others’ welfare. The family has instead degenerated into an entity where greed is hatched, preached and practiced.

Additionally, the education system has failed to teach learners about morality and integrity. How do we expect students and pupils who steal exams to be the yardsticks of morality in the Republic? And hopelessly, teachers and parents facilitate the culture of cheating in examinations. Is the present and future of Kenya not doomed?

On the Price of Corruption
Corruption is a commodity and just like other valuable products, it has a price and a market determined by the forces of demand and supply.

Normally, the production of a commodity and distribution are determined by a set of incentives. Incentives motivate the producers to produce commodities and enable traders to engage in trading activities. For instance, the primary incentive for capitalists is to make profits.

Since corruption is a commodity, its value is attached to the various socio-economic classes that exist in Kenya with each class engaging in corruption activities it can easily afford. The rich – those with means – can easily afford to engage in corruption in the upper echelons of government. The poor – the have nots, the scum of the Kenyan society – and the hoi polloi can afford to pay for corruption that takes place at the lower levels of the Republic’s socio-economic and political strata.

The bottom line, however, is that each social and economic class can afford to pay for corruption depending on the socio-economic stratification, just like in a normal product market where the rich can afford purchasing luxurious commodities and the poor can afford buying low quality sometimes cheap counterfeit goods.

Thence, the price of corruption is too low in Kenya in that it can easily be afforded by majority of the citizens whether one is looting billions from state institutions or paying a fifty shilling bribe for easier access to public services.

A vicious fight against corruption in the Republic, therefore, requires that this vice be made unaffordable. In essence, this calls for the cost of engaging in corruption to be increased, and as a result eliminate the incentives that facilitate graft to take place.

In increasing the cost of engaging in corruption and subsequently its price, it implies that punitive measures such as death sentence should be experimented and eventually instituted.

Just like a typical economy with extractive institutions where inequality between the poor and the rich is massive - with the rich getting away with whatever economic benefit as the have nots hope for the better – the legal system in Kenya is rogue and unequal with the whales, the sharks and the big fish that engage in corruption going scot free as the small fish literally face the full force of the law. This is outright subversion of the rule of law.

As matter-of-factly, the Jubilee administration is busy engaging in mere publicity stunts of arresting the NYS scandal suspects and talking tough as usual while the politicians, and other wheeler-dealers in government circles who choreograph the looting are yet to be prosecuted.

What happened to the first NYS scandal investigations? The Executive, Parliament and the Judiciary owe the tax payers an explanation on this.

By the way, in the month of May 2018 a clerk at the Kibera Huduma Centre was sentenced to two years in jail and fined Kshs. 500,000 for taking a bribe of Kshs. 2,500. This clerk is a small fish. What about the big fish, the whales and the sharks of the NYS scandals, the NCPB looting, and other scams engineered under the watch of the Jubilee administration?

Ours is not a country; it is a den of thieves and a haven for the robber barons and the irredeemably corrupt.

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