Leadership, News

Let Us Use 2022 To Clean Up Our Politics Once for All

In Kenya, cor­rup­tion is no longer the ele­phant in the room. It is the beast that lives in every cor­ner of the nation. Cor­rup­tion has become so vicious that when­ev­er one is charged with the crime, the same indi­vid­ual con­verts into an elect­ed politi­cian and soon the vil­lain becomes a hero. 

Recent­ly, the Unit­ed Nations Gen­er­al Assem­bly held its first ever ses­sion on Anti-cor­rup­tion. Address­ing this ses­sion, New Zealand’s Min­is­ter of Jus­tice Kris Faafoi, whose Min­istry is respon­si­ble for the fight against cor­rup­tion, said that, “Cor­rup­tion is a glob­al prob­lem, it dam­ages busi­ness­es, mar­kets, demo­c­ra­t­ic insti­tu­tions and the social fab­rics of soci­eties every­where. It weak­ens the deliv­ery of essen­tial ser­vices, under­mines the rule of law and erodes jus­tice. It has a neg­a­tive effect on trust in insti­tu­tions and polit­i­cal legitimacy.”

The Hon­or­able Min­is­ter has the moral author­i­ty to utter these words because last year in 2020, Den­mark and New Zealand were ranked as the joint least cor­rupt coun­tries in the world. In the last ten years, New Zealand has occu­pied the top spot for a record eight times, only com­ing in sec­ond to Den­mark in 2014 and 2018. Mean­while, Kenya was ranked 124 in 2020, giv­ing it a slot among the 55 most cor­rupt coun­tries in the world. Nations like Niger, Sier­ra Leone and Pana­ma all scored bet­ter than us. 

In 2019, we were ranked 137th while in 2018 we were 144th. This means that we are mak­ing small gains. Time is ripe to trans­late those small gains into large leaps. For starters, I sug­gest that we learn crit­i­cal lessons from New Zealand. They have very elab­o­rate anti-cor­rup­tion laws that include the Crimes Act (CA) for the pub­lic sec­tor, and the Secret Com­mis­sions Act (SCA) for the pri­vate sector. 

These laws are reli­gious­ly enforced with­out fear or favor. Suzanne Snive­ly, the Chair of New Zealand Trans­paren­cy Inter­na­tion­al New Zealand (TINZ) has pre­vi­ous­ly said that her country’s strength lies in its com­mit­ment to inves­ti­gate and pros­e­cute instances of fraud. It is not sur­pris­ing there­fore that ear­li­er this year, almost 70% of New Zealan­ders said that they trust­ed the pub­lic sector.

Indeed, The Pres­i­den­cy and the leg­isla­tive arms must sup­port The Judiciary’s abil­i­ty to inves­ti­gate and pros­e­cute cor­rup­tion. This will prompt unprece­dent­ed trust from the pub­lic sec­tor towards The Gov­ern­ment and its institutions. 

Kenyans must how­ev­er real­ize that it is they who can deter­mine the direc­tion of our pub­lic sec­tor. They can do so by vot­ing out leg­is­la­tors bear­ing a cor­rup­tion brand and replac­ing them with those with proven track records in uphold­ing integri­ty irre­spec­tive of their polit­i­cal affil­i­a­tions. It is so easy for us to iden­ti­fy cor­rupt leg­is­la­tors because they live amongst us, we know them! 

Pol­i­tics con­tin­ues to live up to its rep­u­ta­tion as a dirty game most­ly because the ref­er­ee allows dirty peo­ple to par­tic­i­pate. If the ref­er­ee bold­ly red cards all dirty play­ers, the game’s rep­u­ta­tion shall change.  The ref­er­ee is the voter.

The most potent weapon that cit­i­zens have is their voice, as expressed through their votes. Unfor­tu­nate­ly, mil­lions of Kenyans already are dis­em­pow­er­ing them­selves either by not reg­is­ter­ing as vot­ers or not plan­ning to vote despite being reg­is­tered voters. 

Last week, the Inde­pen­dent Elec­toral and Bound­aries Com­mis­sion (IEBC) Chair­man Wafu­la Chebukati revealed that only 760,000 Kenyans had reg­is­tered as new vot­ers. IEBC had tar­get­ed reg­is­ter­ing 4.5 mil­lion vot­ers by then. Out of those who had reg­is­tered, only about 200,000 were youth. Con­sid­er­ing that 6 mil­lion new vot­ers attained vot­ing age in the last five years, vot­er apa­thy amongst young peo­ple below 23 years seems to be quite high.

Those six mil­lion youth, who have nev­er vot­ed, have a gold­en oppor­tu­ni­ty in 2022 to effort­less­ly and demo­c­ra­t­i­cal­ly trans­form our nation. But only if they reg­is­ter and then vote wisely. 

Vot­er apa­thy also exists amongst reg­is­tered vot­ers. They too must real­ize that the con­sti­tu­tion repeat­ed­ly grants us an oppor­tu­ni­ty to demo­c­ra­t­i­cal­ly to clean up our pol­i­tics and root out cor­rup­tion every five years through elec­tions. Time to act is now. Are you ready? Think green, act green!

About Dr. Kalua Green

He is the Chief Stew­ard of Green Africa Group, a con­glom­er­ate that was envi­sioned in 1991 to con­nect, pro­duce and impact var­i­ous aspi­ra­tions of human­i­ty through Sus­tain­able Mobil­i­ty & Safe­ty Solu­tions, Eco­pre­neur­ship & Agribusi­ness, Ship­ping & Logis­tics, Envi­ron­men­tal Pro­tec­tion Ini­tia­tives, as well as Hos­pi­tal­i­ty & fur­nish­ings sectors

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