Graft war shouldn’t be lost in the din of succession fights
By Philip Gichana The Executive continues to speak strongly on the fight against corruption, the highlight being Thursday’s State of the Nation address by President Uhuru Kenyatta. Everyone acknowledges that the environment is ripe for the fight against graft, with the President having forged unity among political nemesis and the progress made on investigations and prosecutions.
Unfortunately, the fight has taken a political trajectory that threatens to derail gains made so far. It’s noteworthy that progress has been made and there is a renewed sense of hope from Kenyans that the fight against graft has begun in earnest. There is, however, growing skepticism from certain quarters who cite political witch hunt.
The Executive needs to be careful that the fight doesn’t lose momentum and degenerate into a farce and blame game between various factions. The Executive needs to lead by example. Public appointments must be beyond reproach and within the standards of Chapter 6. Any attempt to appoint or retain public officers tainted with corruption will be a mockery to the fight against corruption. The Executive should be on the forefront in implementing and enforcing our national ethos, the ripple effect being that values will stop being abstract and instead core to service delivery in Kenya.
The place of the Judiciary in a country cannot be over emphasized, irrespective of the kind of government be it democratic, autocratic, and military or monarchy. Unfortunately, today while most Kenyans appreciate the role the investigative agencies and the prosecution, they question the will of the Judiciary in the fight against corruption.
Most Kenyans may not appreciate the intricate principles and doctrines governing the adjudication of cases of this nature. They nevertheless want to see convictions and nothing less. It therefore behoves the Judiciary to balance the rights of the accused person and safeguard the public interest in those cases. Courts must send out an unequivocal message that corruption will not be tolerated and that punishment will be appropriately severe.
On the other hand, the Chief Justice David Maraga has an onerous but noble task of ensuring there is no perception of corruption within the Judiciary because the strength of the Judiciary is the confidence reposed in it by the people who approach it for resolution of disputes. All petitions against the bench should be heard fairly and expeditiously to restore trust in the institution. Since the reintroduction of multiparty democracy in 1991, Parliament has increasingly asserted itself and even more so, after the promulgation of the Constitution 2010. Though Parliament plays a critical role in challenging corruption in Kenya, a sizeable number of citizens see it as part of the problem.
Parliament can redeem itself by channeling the interests and concerns of the public into an open debate, the passing of legislation, and the creation of political will to fight corruption. Specifically, Parliament needs to pick up the taskforce report of 2015 by the then Attorney General and demand the tabling of the recommended policies and legislations or amendments for debate and adoption. In so doing, it would be providing an enabling environment to fight graft.
Our society is culpable in permissiveness of corruption in line with the theory that the end justifies the means. It has grown so permissive of corruption that, directly or indirectly the society condones it and only complains once directly affected. As citizens, we need to be alive to our responsibility to act as the conscience of the nation. We need to stop the coloration of allegations of corruption in either religious or ethnic or gender garbs and condemn any act of corruption just like we condemn any other crime.