The headlines over the past few days have centered on the graft list that implicated high profile government officials in corruption schemes. In his State of The Nation address, the President instructed those who were accused to step aside as investigations are carried out. This is not the first time the country is faced with issues of corruption. We have a long list of scandals dating back to the first government. The question that is now being raised is whether we have set ourselves on a path to finally rid ourselves off this cancer. I think not.
“Corruption is the abuse of bestowed power or position to acquire a personal benefit. Corruption may include many activities including bribery and embezzlement. Government, or ‘political’, corruption occurs when an office-holder or other governmental employee acts in an official capacity for personal gain.” – wikipedia
Corruption has deterred development in Kenya since independence. Instead of persons seeking public office and jobs to serve the people, for a long time it has been that these persons have used their positions to amass great wealth. From land grabbing to fraud, the list is endless on how public officials have misused public resources to their own advantage. But even if we target these individuals in a bid to end corruption, we shall not be successful unless we deal with the root cause of the matter – greed and lack of responsibility.
The two mentioned have been part of our Kenyan society for as far as we dare to remember. A local politician once said that if the political class is corrupt so are the people who elected them. They couldn’t have been far from the truth. We will never rid the country off corruption if we do not deal with our corrupt selves.
We can blame public officials as much as we want but we, the people, are a corrupt lot ourselves. We are also pay bribes and even though we do not “steal” in the same magnitude as those we accuse, in our small ways we also defraud public resources. We have created a society where the golden rule is to succeed by all means necessary. As long as those who steal give us a share of the loot, like little bribes during election campaigns, we remain silent on how they accrued their wealth.
It is said that Rome was not built in a day. In the same breath we can conclude that if we really want to be serious in the fight against corruption we must start by building a corruption free culture from the bottom up.