Sunday, February 14, 2010

How not to deal with corruption: Kenya Edition

Kenya is a country that has seen its turmoil. It was only in 2007 when there were riots over the results of the elections, ending up in the deaths of hundreds, as well as a power sharing agreement between two rivals, President Mwai Kibaki, and Prime Minister Raila Odinga.

So, step into recent times, and the worry is all over the huge corruption scandals going on within the country's ministries. One such scandal has cost Kenya funding to it's Ministry of Education by both the US and the UK. Transparency International rates Kenya as the most corrupted East African country. Not a record to be proud of.

So, are heads rolling? Sure - but not the right heads. Kenya's civil servants are getting fired left, right, and center, instead of those that control the ministries themselves. In fact, none of the ministers have been touched themselves, despite direct links to them.

And this is not how to deal with corruption, folks. Why? Well, even though it might save your own ass from a possible canning in the short term, it probably won't in the long term. There is a feeling that political accountability is simply non-existent in the country. There may not be movements now to change that, however, when you purposefully divert food funds to your own personal coffers, I can see clouds on the horizon.

Because, as anyone knows, accountability in politics generally matters when there is something that will affect the public. So long as politicians get things done for their constituents, in a country like Kenya, I doubt most could care about corruption. It isn't like the comfortable lives we live here in the Western world, where everything is stable enough that we can care about spending scandals that don't directly affect what we get. Kenya is pretty unstable - not as bad as some countries, but still - and so long as a politician delivers for the people, they can be pretty darn corrupt.

At least, that is my theory, and how I would see it, if I were living in such a situation. Which is why it amazes me that these ministers would be stupid enough to pass off the blame to public servants when clearly the hate is targeted at them, for the very reason that their corruption does personally affect what your constits get.

However, this foresight has seemed to escape the Kenyan administration. In that light, I hope them well in the next elections - I think there will, unfortunately, but another fight on their hands. But, maybe that fight is worth having, eh?

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