Sunday Reading: Kenya is Changing for the Better

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By Blamuel Njururi, Citizens Against Corruption National Coordinator, Nairobi – September 16, 2013

African leaders and businesspeople have over the last 75 years of independence syphoned billions of shillings from their motherland and shipped cash to western offshore bank accounts to build foreign countries economies while millions of their citizens languish in poverty. A majority of citizens in many African countries, including Kenya, lack basic amenities in life such as adequate shelter, health services, education and meaningful jobs.

Those who BRIBED their way into Road Reserves and Riparian land should swallow their PRIDE and SLEEP on the bed they made. So must public officers and tenderpreneurs who enriched themselves by looting public coffers. Their sympathizers are free to join in the sleep until they WAKE UP to the reality that Kenya is changing for the BETTER.

Kenya is MIGRATING from the CORRUPT Country when one had to BRIBE to get a Bed to deliver a child, to get post natal inoculations, to get a place in primary school, to get a place in Secondary school, to buy papers to cheat in Exams, pay to get degrees of choice written for them, to grab public land and sell it to government, to win tenders and contracts, pay for business rivals and political rivals to be KILLED, pay police officers to escape prosecution for traffic offenses – including fatal accidents and pay judges to be acquitted on any criminal offense.

It is difficult for many Kenyans who grew up in such a Kenya, especially under the Kleptocratic dictatorship of Daniel arap Moi, to imagine LIFE without CORRUPTION just like many drunkards could not imagine a Kenya where bars would open at 11.00 am and close at 2.00 pm instead of opening at 8.00 am and staying open until the following morning despite the so-called Mututho laws. Many still don’t think the government acted rationally when declaring war on illicit brews and narcotic drugs. Thousands of Kenyans die on roads because motorists and public service vehicles owners have no respect for the Highway Code.

This is despite all the suffering CORRUPTION inflicted upon families in terms of destroying the education system until Cabinet Secretary Fred Matiang’i stepped in two years ago, denying citizens essential public utilities such as good schools, roads, health facilities with medicines and equipment, road carnage costing billions of shillings in economic and human lives losses, making justice an extremely expensive commodity and above all, stagnating national prosperity compared to Far East Economic Tigers that were at par with Kenya at independence in 1963.

Anti-corruption reforms will not come easily. A majority of those in key positions as civil servants, in Parliament and Judiciary as well as private sector were born or grew up during the grossly corrupt Kenya and many are determined to maintain the status quo because it serves them well. That position was recently demonstrates in Parliament where MPs were bending backwards to take Ksh 10,000 to reject a report on contaminated sugar imported to literally kill Kenyans. As the MPs displayed insatiable greed for money, their counterparts in the Senate were soliciting Ksh 100 million to doctor a report of a land grabber who sold government land to government for billions of shillings.

The exodus from the CORRUPTION comfort zone will therefore, be treacherously painful. Billionaires and Millionaires will fall by the wayside, some will end up in jail and others will flee the country. Still others will mount strong resistance as they deploy against reformative change. Corruption fights back and it will not be a walk in the park as organised criminal cartels fight back. Kenyans, however must steadfastly seize this rare opportunity to transform their country from a man-eat-man society into a country where every citizen has equal opportunity to live and enjoy life without corruption as a ticket to access public services or ethnic and political discrimination.

Corruption promoted the man-eat-man society in which the rich flourished while the poor drowned in the sagacious sea of poverty in which many perished. A country where your status in public was judged by the wealth you accumulated through corruption and celebrated as community leader if you joined politics and bribed your way to Parliament or County Assembly. Kenya became a country where corruption was an accepted way of life and the more blood money you accumulated the more respectable you became. The rich were even reserved special seats on the right side of places of worship.

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African leaders and businesspeople have over the last 75 years of independence siphoned billions of shillings from their motherlands and shipped cash to western offshore bank accounts to build foreign countries while millions of their citizens languish in poverty. They create jobs in foreign countries from which industrial products that can be manufactured in their countries and foodstuffs that can be grown in their countries are imported draining national coffers. A majority of citizens in many African countries, including Kenya, lack basic amenities in life such as adequate shelter, water, health services, education and meaningful jobs.

Corruption is the modern day Slave Trade and the African Continent, which was the major victim of the horrendous Slave Trade, is today the victim of perpetual plunder by the same Western powers through corrupt ways of doing business. Their transnational firms continue to under-price exports from Africa and their banks and real estates have open doors to receive cash stolen by corrupt  African leaders and public servants depleting the poverty-ridden Continent of vital financial resources. Kenya is part of that plunder.

Clearly, it appears only the naive would believe that the governments is winning the war against corruption. Since corruption has remained entrenched for so long, must we assume that it is just part of human nature? A way of life or can something be done to curb corruption?

The obvious first step in curbing corruption is to recognize that corruption is destructive and evil, since it benefits the unscrupulous to the detriment of others and change is essential. Some progress has undoubtedly been made in that direction. We all recognize that the cost of bribery is high. Bribes undermine good governance, harm economic efficiency and development, distort trade, and penalize citizens around the world.

Eliminating corruption across the board requires a second, much more difficult step: a change of heart or, rather, a change of many hearts. Kenyans everywhere must learn to hate corruption. They must accept that Corruption in any currency or nationality is evil. Only then will graft disappear. Kenya will never have enough for everybody’s greed but can have enough to share for national needs.

President Uhuru Kenyatta must incorporate change management component in the ongoing anti-corruption reforms to achieve the desired results. Change management is a systematic approach to dealing with the transition or transformation of an organization’s goals, processes or technologies. The purpose of change management is to implement strategies for effecting change, controlling change and helping people to adapt to change. Full participation by Kenya citizens in anti-corruption transformation must be incorporated as part of change management component.

Kenyans must understand that change in that direction is inevitable and those not ready for change will be changed by change.

Mugumo tree and a razor blade

The late opposition doyen Jaramogi Oginga Odinga delivered the same message to Dictator Daniel arap Moi after declaring that Kanu will rule Kenya for a hundred years at the height of his Kanu Kleptocratic government – and it came to pass in 2003 when Kanu was rooted out of power. The man who became president, Mwai Kibaki, had a decade earlier when multiparty clamour started told Kenyans that removing Kanu from power was like cutting a Mugumo tree with a razor blade.

It is in human nature to resist change. When it dawned upon dictator Moi that political change was inevitable, he deployed billions of shillings to finance what was called Youth for Kanu in 1992 (YK’92) to campaign for him and he manged to stay in power for another 10 years – thanks to a divided opposition that got majority votes but Kanu won as majority block vote plus rigging.

The young Kenyans used by Moi in 1992 included current deputy president William Ruto, former MP Cyrus Jirongo, former Federation of Kenya Football President Sammy Nyamweya and the late businessman Jacob Juma who all became instant millionaires. Already a group of youthful politicians are ganging up against anti-corruption reforms saying they are targeting Ruto to block his 2022 presidential bid.

Gluttonous eaters are difficult lot to convince there is a word known as constipation. Until a few months ago Permanent Secretaries and Town Clerks did not think there was room for them in Kenya Prisons. Some are coming to terms with the fact that CORRUPTION is a self-inflicted Crime. It has nothing to do with ethnicity, religion, level of education or sex – Mwizi ni Mwizi.