Africanization
David Anderson
FILE
Kenya
Nairobi
Oginga Odinga
PS
Taxpayers
Town Clerk

Why looting culture is yet to be eradicated

Despite the president declaring corruption a threat to national security almost three years ago, taxpayers continue to remain on their own against the inevitably and irredeemably corrupt public servants. So how did we end up here? This malfeasance, what historian David Anderson called the “tyranny of property” was entrenched in the 1960’s under the guise of Africanization programme initiated to break foreigners’ dominance in the economy and replace with African majority population. Instead, it turned out to provide public servant with unfettered access to state power and plunder of public resources and the allure of high-ranking public servants owning vast commercial and industrial ventures became the tenor and tone of the time.

Why looting culture is yet to be eradicated

Taxpayers continue to remain on their own against the inevitably and irredeemably corrupt public servants. FILE PHOTO | NMG

On Tuesday last week, two court cases dominated the news headlines. A pathologist was charged with stealing a heart from a corpse during an autopsy and in another courtroom a former PS and a former Nairobi Town Clerk were found guilty in a cemetery scam. And the joke was that it has actually become expensive to die in Kenya. In retrospect, that is a sorry state of what our beloved country has become: a temple of unadulterated greed.“If Kenya started uhuru without an African elite class, she is rapidly acquiring one. Ministers and top civil servants compete with one another to buy more farms, acquire more directorships and own bigger cars and grander houses.” Those words by Oginga Odinga in 1966 on the blatant abuse of public office and resources by public servants remain the stark reality more than 50 years later.Despite the president declaring corruption a threat to national security almost three years ago, taxpayers continue to remain on their own against the inevitably and irredeemably corrupt public servants.

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So how did we end up here? This malfeasance, what historian David Anderson called the “tyranny of property” was entrenched in the 1960’s under the guise of Africanization programme initiated to break foreigners’ dominance in the economy and replace with African majority population. Instead, it turned out to provide public servant with unfettered access to state power and plunder of public resources and the allure of high-ranking public servants owning vast commercial and industrial ventures became the tenor and tone of the time.More fervent, Kenya’s experiment with constitutional democracy in seeking some form of political liberalization through competitive elections has only meant swapping the old “tyranny of property” apostles with new ones.With the new high ranking public servants confronted with the reality of dwindling public resources to steal, especially high value public lands, they have found public cash as the remaining assets up for their grabs. This explains the current looting spree of public money where public servants boldly swindle the taxpayers billions of dollars every year through fictitious deals.In a harbinger of worse things to come, we ostensibly seem to have re-organised from within the country’s political and economic structure. First, the much hyped yearly economic growth is not really designed to meet the needs of the struggling Kenyan masses but rather to pad the private bank accounts and pockets of a powerful group of fabulous corrupt – a political criminal axis.For example, land compensation stands at $700 million annually. Recipients are mostly public servants privy to wayleaves of infrastructure projects and rush to acquire land through proxiesso as to sell it back to government at exorbitant prices.The second reason to be worried is that corruption and politics will continue to be twin bridesmaids in Kenya because we seem to have accustomed political leaders to bully their way into office by nonchalantly dishing out millions of shillings from proceeds of public corruption rackets, even on church altars.In short, Kenyan politics has primarily become a bidding auction where politicians openly use public money as chips to buy their way into office. By giving corrupt public officials this latitude to cleanse themselves in politics, corruption and looting can only get worse before it gets better.This predatory form of governance is the reason why parliament will remain acquiesced on its oversight responsibility and will tiptoe around the issue of corruption and misuse of public resources. So unless the average Kenyan voter musters a little anger and demands for honest leadership and accountability, brace yourself as a tax payer for more looting and plunder. “It is a case of building strong children than repairing broken men”

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