When the President called for all public servants mentioned in corruption scandals to step aside, there was as expected a lot of reactions. Cabinet secretaries and principal secretaries have already stepped aside to be investigated. Kenyans in general welcome this action albeit with some cynicism having seen people “reinstated” after stepping aside in previous regimes.
Corruption is the monster that keeps us poor, the reason why if you are diagnosed with cancer today, you have little chance of quality treatment at a government hospital. Corruption is the reason you don’t feel safe at night, why people walk for half a day in some parts of Kenya to find water. Corruption leads to poverty. Singapore, Malaysia and Kenya were somewhat comparable in terms of development in the early 1960’s, we grew our corruption while they transformed their economy.
There is a direct link to corruption and poverty. Corruption hordes taxes collected from millions of Kenyans into the hands of a few individuals who then buy apartments in London or open offshore accounts at the expense of service provision for the citizens.
As witnessed, corruption is now devolved. County Governments collect levies from wananchi, then find other uses for the money and fail to provide the services. Are county governments even remotely accountable to the people that pay for the services? Do county governments care that corruption is killing the devolution dream for Kenyans?
Governors have spent a lot of time touring Singapore and other places, fighting to fly flags on their expensive cars and demanding more money from the Central Government as evidenced in their pesa mashinani campaigns. We are yet to see that kind of energy dedicated to fighting corruption and ensuring wananchi get better roads, drinking water, markets or hospitals.
They, as public officers have a duty. As the constitution states.
CHAPTER THIRTEEN—THE PUBLIC SERVICE
Part 1—values and Principles of Public service 232.
(1) The values and principles of public service include—
(a) high standards of professional ethics;
(b) efficient, effective and economic use of resources;
(c) responsive, prompt, effective, impartial and equitable provision of services;
The response by the Council of Governors however, shows that a majority of these leaders do not consider themselves accountable to anyone. Not as public officers whose role is governed by the Constitution. Governors are in fact State Officers, a higher requirement and expectation in the Constitution.
The only acceptable statement from the Governors would have been to condemn corrupt individuals and urge them to step aside for investigations. They should show us that they have nothing to hide, that they love and welcome accountability even from themselves.
Instead they threw red herrings into the pond. Referring to the Deputy Presidents case at the International Criminal Court (ICC), blaming political witch hunt and referring to the proper impeachment procedure. This shows how little of a conscience they have in regard to public resources. Even without corruption; inefficient and uneconomical use of public resources is against the Constitution. How many of the County leaders would pass this test?
Despite all the noise the Governors are making to defend themselves and their perceived right to what is a public office. Alex Tolgos the Elgeyo Marakwet Governor has called for all those named to step aside to facilitate investigations. Perhaps he is the only one that understands what it means to hold a public office.
In the meantime, you and me will continue to suffer because our resources have been entrusted to people who do not want to be held accountable.