By Violet Mbiti
Corruption can be likened to a virus that devours its citizens to the core rendering them helpless with no hope in sight. To combat this virus an antidote is required that will restore human dignity and propel the nation to greater heights. President Obama while making his maiden speech stated that it is rather unfortunate that 250,000 jobs are lost per year due to corruption and this vice has also crept into government operations and consumes 10 per cent of the country’s annual budget.
According to a recent audit report by the Auditor-General office, sh67 billion has been spent on unauthorised commitments by various government ministries in the last financial year. Corruption not only occurs in the national government but also in the devolved government as stated by office of the Auditor-General.
Various initiatives have been rolled out including educating the citizenry about corruption as well as availing data showcasing its growth but this has not stopped this virus from spreading. It is highly unfortunate that Kenyans have adopted corruption as a culture and as a way of life.
The government through President Uhuru Kenyatta has also voiced its concern and shamed publicly government officials mentioned in the graft report by the Ethics and Anti-corruption Commission. This war cannot be won if we leave President Uhuru Kenyatta, The Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission and the International Community led by President Barrack Obama to fight the vice.
It is commendable that a taskforce has been formed at the Attorney General’s office with support from the United States Government to review the anti-corruption legislations and policies and also to offer ethics training to all public officials both in national and county governments.
It is also commendable that Kenya is planning to join the Egmont Group to track money laundering. Despite the government’s effort to fight this vice, the war cannot be won if it cannot gain support from the grassroots.
To succeed in this fight every Kenyan needs to campaign against corruption. The voice of Wanjiku is powerful and is a tool that can be used to end corruption. Do you know as a citizen that The Constitution of Kenya 2010 gives you the power to fight against this vice?
According to Article One of the Constitution all sovereign power belongs to the people of Kenya and they may exercise their sovereign power either directly or through their democratically elected representatives. As a citizen, the Constitution also gives you the power to know how public money is accounted for.
Article 35 of the Constitution states that every citizen has the right of access to information held by the state and that the state shall publish and publicise any important information affecting the nation.
This fight can only be won if Kenyans change their mindset about corruption and say NO. The government through the Executive, Parliament and Judiciary can also join in to end this disease.
This is what Singapore as a country did several years ago. The founding Prime Minister of Singapore Lee Kuan Yew fired corrupt officials and ensured there is transparency and accountability in every sphere of government. Singapore now has been transformed from a developing nation to a developed nation and is surpassing other developed nations with regard to providing quality care for its citizens.
The start to ending the culture of corruption in Kenya can only begin when you and I decide to be change makers who are going to voice our concerns about it whenever it occurs and when the arms of government namely executive, judiciary and parliament decide to join us in this fight.
I believe that change only starts with renewal of our attitude and when people join hands together for this noble cause.
The writer is Head of the Program Management Office at World Youth Parliament – firstname.lastname@example.org