Sunday Sermon 4:
By Blamuel Njururi, Kenya Confidential Editor-in-Chief – Nairobi, June 25, 2017
It is the duty of the pulpit to attack and destroy the works of the devil, and to act as a moral instructor. Kenya’s whole political body is diseased with the loathsome leprosy of political rascality and hypocrisy. Kenya political tendons are rotting away inside deceitful crooks-turned-politicians purporting to be leaders.
Evil has protruded on all sides and no political party can lay any claims to morality, especially at election time when they are all acting on the principle of “success first, principle afterwards.”
Can we leave this cesspools of corruption to be quiet because their evils are extending and perverting all classes, and affecting our children? What was the cause of all this?
The total depravity of our population is the principal cause. No stronger proof of the depravity of man can be adduced than the progress of nations – they rise with sterling virtue, and then fall with the enervating influences of debauchery and other crimes.
The majority of politicians are men and women, who are liable to sin in proportion to the temptation and calculated chances of escaping punishment.
In a nation the individuality seems to be lost, and men and women acting in masses seem to think they are more likely to escape punishments for plunder and murder occasioned by riotous mass action and demonstrations in which innocent lives are lost. Individuals and their families own political parties as vehicles to drive them to power and riches yet Kenya taxpayers are forced to finance the plunder through Political Parties Fund own political parties and tarmac the roads on which bonfires are lit and private properties destroyed.
Some men and women commit the worst social-economic crimes in their national capacity as leaders. Members of Parliament allocate to themselves huge salaries, allowances and other emoluments literally holding the country to ransom with threats of not passing the National Budget.
Other individuals inflate the cost of government purchases, tenders and services from foreign companies then direct the ill-gotten wealth to foreign bank account. Such actions sabotage national economy, security and job opportunities in their countries while developing foreign nations. Kenya police was deprived of vehicles when CMC key directors Charles Njonjo as Attorney General and Constitutional Affairs Minister and Jeremiah Kiereni, a former defence permanent secretary and head of civil service, inflated prices and banked the cash skimmed in offshore. The country also suffered electricity energy because Finance Minister Chris Okemo and Kenya Power managing director Samuel Gichuru inflated tender prices and banked the extra cash in Jersey accounts.
If we as a nation refuse to put restraints on our national iniquity, then are we individually responsible. Our national compact is in the face of God’s law because it provides that no religious test shall be applied, meaning practically that we shall put no questions as to the moral and religious opinions so far as regarded his peculiar form of religion of blind devotion to a party or individuals, who vote selfish emoluments like the “devil incarnate.” The Bible warns; Isaiah 1:4 “Ah, sinful nation, a people laden with iniquity, offspring of evildoers, children who deal corruptly!”
I dare say that political liars are as bad as any other sinners and the prevalence of untruths in political speeches should no longer be condoned. Places of power and trust are bought at election time as Kenyans watch impotently.
A poor, honest man or woman rarely has any place in Kenya today – ethnicity not withstanding. During political public utterances, the men who are placed as teachers of morality, have been recreant to their trust, and even lawyers have become demoralized charlatans.
They, who claim that the pulpit has nothing to do with politics, cannot utter a greater falsehood.
Politics has such a high premium in Kenya today that every self-respecting clergy should be bold enough to address political issues without fear or favour. Politicians have shamelessly used their positions, and sometimes their communities, to shield themselves when caught up with corruption.
Time has come for such politicians and all other public officers to be shamed publicly by the clergy turning away any donations and other forms of contributions intended to cleanse their corrupt deeds and proceeds. God’s favours are never for sale.
There are people who express sentiments that “the sole business of the clergy in the pulpit is to preach about Christ and why he was crucified,” meaning that the clergy has no right to preach about politics. Truth cannot be further than that.
The universality of politics makes us worry over universal corruption. Our children will imitate the politicians who rise to place and power by violating principles of sight and justice. These corrupt politicians take charge of matters that affect us universally and we must fight it universally because no human being is born corrupt – we choose.
The Rationale for Fighting Corruption
The costs of corruption for economic, political and social development are becoming increasingly evident. But many of the most convincing arguments in support of the fight against corruption are little known to the public, like many of you and remain unused in political debates. This Sermon provides introduction that reveals the real cost and explains why the government, citizens and business must prioritize the fight against corruption.
Kenya has a real opportunity for success through the collaboration of Faith-based Organisations, the Ethics and Anti Corruption Commission and Citizens Against Corruption initiative. Ephesians 5:11 “Take no part in the unfruitful works of darkness, but instead expose them.”
What is Corruption?
Corruption is the process of mental corrosion that causes individuals to selfishly collude against the general good for personal gain. No one is born corrupt, it’s a personal choice driven by greed for personal benefit. Genesis 6:5 “The Lord saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intention of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually.”
Corruption is therefore, individual abuse of public or private office for personal gain. It includes acts of bribery, embezzlement, nepotism or state capture. It is often associated with and reinforced by other illegal practices, such as tenders convolution, fraud or money laundering.
Corporate bodies and governments are incapable of corruption or being corrupt as institutions but individuals therein can be and are the ones who abuse power they are entrusted with for private gain. Such individuals can be presidents, ministers, governors, politicians and all categories of civil servants within governments. In family, private and public companies they can be Chief executives, managing directors, accountants, cashiers, procurement officers and other senior cadres.
What does Corruption Look Like?
- Corruption manifests itself in multi-faceted nature. It can be multinational company executive who pays bribes to win the public contract to build the local highway and tenders to supply goods and services, despite submitting a sub-standard offer.
- It can be the politician redirecting public investments to his hometown rather than to the region most suitably in need.
- It can be the public official embezzling funds for school renovations to build his private palatial home.
- It can be the manager recruiting an ill-suited friend for a high-level position or,
- It can be the local government official demanding bribes from ordinary citizens to get access to public services.
At the end of the day, those hurt most by corruption are the world’s weakest and most vulnerable in society.
Why Fight Corruption?
Kenya was left behind by countries like Singapore and Korea whose GDP were at par at independence because pillars of the nation entrusted with positions of power in Kenya chose to divert public money to their offshore bank accounts. It is public knowledge that some Ministers, Permanent Secretaries and managing directors diverted money intended for security and energy sectors to their personal accounts. Vehicles being bought for police through CMC Motors were overpriced and the excess money banked overseas while money intended for greater power generation was diverted to bank accounts in Jersey.
The result was high level of insecurity to the general public and business communities and closure of factories around the country coupled with low investment opportunities for lack of electricity to run industries. Many windows for economic growth and job opportunities were closed for the country and millions of unemployed Kenyans today.
Overall, corruption reduces efficiency and increases inequality. Estimates show that the cost of corruption equals more than 5% of global GDP (US$ 2.6 trillion, according to the World Economic Forum) with over US$ 1 trillion paid in bribes each year (according to the World Bank). It is not only a question of ethics; we simply cannot afford such waste. Ephesians 4:22 “Put off your old self, which belongs to your former manner of life and is corrupt through deceitful desires.”
Corruption increases the cost of doing business
- First, bribes and drawn-out negotiations to bargain them add additional costs to a transaction.
- Second, corruption brings with it the risk of prosecution, important penalties, and blacklisting and reputational damage to individuals and corporates.
- Third, engaging in bribery creates business uncertainty, as such behaviour does not necessarily guarantee business to a company; there can always be another competing company willing to offer a higher bribe to tilt the business in its favour.
- On the macro level, corruption distorts market mechanisms, like fair competition and deters domestic and foreign investments, thus stifling growth and future business opportunities for all stakeholders. IMF research has shown that investment in corrupt countries is almost 5% less than in countries that are relatively corruption-free.
The World Economic Forum estimates that corruption increases the cost of doing business by up to 10% on average. Siemens, the German engineering giant, had to pay penalties of US$ 1.6 billion in 2008 to settle charges that it’s executives routinely engaged in bribery around the world. A significant negative impact of corruption on a country’s capital productivity has been proven.
Corruption leads to waste or the inefficient use of public resources
- As a result of corruption, investments are not allocated to sectors and programmes which present the best value for money or where needs are highest, but to those which offer the best prospects for personal enrichment of corrupt politicians.
- Thus resources go into big infrastructure projects or military procurement where kickbacks are high, to the detriment of sectors like education, health care and agriculture.
- Moreover, public tenders are assigned to the highest bribe payer, neglecting better qualified companies not willing to bribe, which undermines the quality of the projects carried out.
- In some instances public funds are simply diverted from their intended use, embezzled and exploited for private enrichment.
- Corruption also slows down bureaucratic processes, as inefficient bureaucracies offer more leverage for corrupt public officials: the longer the queue for a service, the higher the incentive for citizens to bribe to get what they want.
- Finally, nepotism – in both private and public organisations – brings incompetent people into power, weakening performance and governance.
- Several studies provide evidence of the negative correlation between corruption and the quality of government investments, services and regulations. Corruption during Daniel arap Moi manifested itself in white elephant public incomplete projects all over the country as well as the collapse of many others so-called Nyayo projects.
For example, child mortality rates in countries with high levels of corruption are about one third higher than in countries with low corruption, infant mortality rates are almost twice as high and student dropout rates are five times as high.
Numbers on the monetary loss due to corruption vary, but are alarming. Africa is losing more than $50bn (£33bn) every year in illicit financial outflows as governments and multinational companies engage in fraudulent schemes aimed at avoiding tax payments to some of the world’s poorest countries, impeding development projects and denying poor people access to crucial services. The continent lost about $850bn between 1970 and 2008, the report said. An estimated $217.7bn was illegally transferred out of Nigeria over that period, while Egypt lost $105.2bn and South Africa more than $81.8bn. Today those figures are astronomical.
Corruption excludes poor people, the children of God, from public services and perpetuates poverty
Proverbs 28:15 “Like a roaring lion or a charging bear is a wicked ruler over a poor people.”
- The poor generally lack privileged access to decision makers, which is necessary in corrupt societies to obtain certain goods and services.
- Resources and benefits are thus exchanged among the rich and well connected, excluding the less privileged.
- Moreover, the poor bear the largest burden, proportionate to their income, of higher tariffs in public services imposed by the costs of corruption.
- Poor citizens can also be completely excluded from basic services like health care or education, if they cannot afford to pay bribes, which are requested illegally. Some have died because they did not have money to bribe County ambulance drivers disguised as cash for fuel.
- The embezzlement or diversion of public funds further reduces the government’s resources available for development and poverty reduction spending.
Proverbs 29:2 “When the righteous increase, the people rejoice, but when the wicked rule, the people groan.”