Kenya is now the third most corrupt country in the world, aording to a survey on prevalence of economic crimes released in Nairobi last week by audit firm PriceWaterhouseCoopers (PwC). Kenya only fared better than South Africa and France. The Jubilee government's numerous pledges to deal decisively with graft remain just that - pledges. Public despair is growing.
I am a father to a 6-year-old girl and 2-year-old-boy. Last year I had an experience with my daughter that I will not forget.
My daughter’s bicycle had been faulty for a period and she kept requesting that I fix it. My response every time she made the request was, “I will do it”. This went on for sometimes until one day I came home and I found my little girl with pliers trying to fix the bicycle. I was very embarrassed. I had failed in my responsibilities as a dad and the message that I had communicated indirectly to her was “you are on your own”. You can be sure that I did not rest that evening until I fixed the bike.
You might be wondering where I am going with this story. Figuratively speaking you are the father of the nation. That is why on the 9 April 2013, Kenyans and the world at large watched as you were given the instruments of power to lead our country. You need to ask your press team for the video of the swearing in ceremony so that you see how excited and optimistic Kenyans were on that day.
Fast-forward to three years of your leadership and Kenya lies like my daughter’s bicycle on the balcony. Kenyans for a period now have been requesting their “father” to fix the “bicycle”. Unfortunately, Mr. President, what we have heard from you is, “I will fix it”. You have said this very many times until we no longer take you seriousyl. The message is clear: WE ARE ON OUR OWN.
I know the argument will be, this bicycle cannot be repaired by you alone and that each one of us has a role to play. To some extent I agree but just as a reminder, the instruments of power are only in one person’s hands and that is you Mr. President. You can imagine how hopeless we feel when the person we expect to show the way does not seem to know the way either. The other day while driving behind a matatu [public service vehicle] I saw this sticker: “Do not follow me, I am also lost”. Listening to your speech yesterday while addressing Kenyan students in Israel it is clear that the forest is too thick and even our leader is not sure what to do.
The major defect on the bicycle is corruption. We were very excited when you read a statement and spoke tough when unveiling the “list of shame”. What we did not know is that this was just another ploy to delude Kenyans that something was being done. Nothing came out of the “list of shame” but instead corruption seems to have been fuelled. Even after our pleas and cries for the president to do something, what we got instead was a rebuke from you that the bicycle is doing okay.
Mr. President, how does it feel to see the billions being stolen and yet Kenyatta National Hospital patients are sharing beds? How does it feel when a farmer in Mumias cannot take their children to school because the sugar industry has collapsed while sugar barons known to the authorities are importing cheap sugar? I can go on and on.
Because of the failure of the national government to tackle corruption, the county governments are on a looting spree. Constituency Development Fund is being misused because the MPs now know who is to blame for lack of development in their constituencies. All this coupled with politics of succession both at the national and county level is slowly grinding the country to a halt.
The independence of the constitutional commission mandated to fight corruption cannot be used as an excuse of your failure to act. You are the President. The buck stops with you. For your information, Mr. President, I am an ardent supporter of your government. I pray for you every day. The challenge, however, is that the little hope left on your capability to transform this country is waning fast.
Please do something.
* Paul Karanja is a Kenyan pastor.
* THE VIEWS OF THE ABOVE ARTICLE ARE THOSE OF THE AUTHOR AND DO NOT NECESSARILY REFLECT THE VIEWS OF THE PAMBAZUKA NEWS EDITORIAL TEAM
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