I read this line and I immediately thought of you:
“…When corruption is democratized (not hogged by a few) and widespread, it may even be lubricating growth…”
I can recall the first time during one of our many heated discussions when you introduced me to an interesting concept of your own making: ‘Sustainable corruption’. In this regard, your central thesis was that if our politicians and business leaders restricted their corrupt dealings to sustainable levels, they would still be enough resources to go around for everyone else i.e. the remaining 90% of the population. To put it as bluntly as you once did: the difference between us and the First World Countries is that their leaders ‘eat in a more sustainable manner than we do’. This is mainly because these countries have more democratic and open systems of government where the actions, conduct and decisions of all public officials are scrutinized and supervised at every turn through a vibrant media and an even more vocal civil society movement. So, it follows that a major problem in most of the developing world, especially Kenya, is the lack of transparency and accountability in our leadership. This governance issue is what has led to this situation whereby our MPs and Ministers seem to have eaten so much that they are now vomiting on the shoes of the very donor agencies and development partners that provide them with aid money, as Sir Edward Clay once put it.
This for me only goes to show that corruption shouldn’t really be seen as a purely legal or economic problem but also as a social and moral one as well. But even before we begin to delve into the possible social and moral dimensions of graft in our country, I still feel that there’s a lot that can be done to eliminate the deeply rooted institutional corruption which we find in almost every government office as the de facto modus operandi. Much needed law reform immediately comes to mind as an important means of ensuring that civil servants arent allowed to hold wanainchi hostage, by using the slow bureaucratic systems with its antiquated laws, so as to extort bribes from us.
I guess you could argue that, in all fairness to Koala, his first term of office as President is an illustrative example of how ‘sustainable corruption’ coupled with the apparent presence of good governance led to the unprecedented economic growth figures we witnessed as a country in the early part of this decade. But of course, with the passage of time, corruption levels steadily rose as Koala began to take a more laissez-faire, laid-back approach to his executive responsibilities which left the door wide open to his pack of wolves and hyenas (read: cabinet ministers) to ‘eat’ whatever government resources and donor funding entrusted to them, up to this very day as we’ve seen recently with Prof. Ongeri.
I am writing to you because despite all this, I still don’t believe that the war on corruption is far from lost. In our own little ways, we all can impact the places we live and work in order for principles of justice, fairness and good governance to prevail once more.
In fact, while we’re on the subject of corruption and ‘eating’, I have a personal copy of that amazing book about your boss that I’ll be expecting you to get autographed for me. Otherwise I hope your first day at work will be a busy and productive one.
Nice time! 🙂
Now playing: Eric Wainaina – ‘Nchi Ya Kitu Kidogo’