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Corruption Needs Change of Attitude & Credible Crusaders

Matunda Nyanchama

Toronto, Ontario

February 11, 2010

Corruption in Kenya has become endemic; it permeates society to such a degree it is has grown to become a norm. My sense is that we are not likely to make much progress in the current circumstances, with the current leadership and current thinking where abuse of public office is routine; a rule. Moreover, Kenyan society is very tolerant of corruption and doesn’t treat the vice as repugnant. Indeed, people accept (even applaud) those that enrich themselves illegally through their public offices. Today, if a faithful public servant retired from a position where s/he arbitrated money, fellow Kenyans would ask thus: what does s/he have to show for it?

A few months back the issue of corruption came up in a discussion with friends, teachers and farmers in my rural Nyamira. People talked of the looting of Constituency Development Funds (CDF) moneys for private gain. One person guesstimated that only about 30% (or less) of the money allocated for projects really goes into projects. The rest is “eaten” via the chain of handling from committees down to contractors. At this rate, the people I was with decried, development would not happen, saying that any party that has a chance to go for the money sees it as fair game!

Then one person talked about tea farming and how schemers profit from farmers’ backs. It is said that corrupt clerks would scheme kilos from farmers and sell the the kilos to those willing to pay. Some people I talked to alleged that a lot of individuals had enriched themselves through this method, even when they had not stepped in any farm to plant, care for tea bushes and/or pick tea leaves!

I agreed with those present that corruption is immoral; it is hindrance to development and exploits the weak in society, be they farmers, students in schools or common mwananchi in a constituency. And I agreed that we need ways to fight the vice and ensure it doesn’t choke needed development. I added that it is upon us all to fight the vice. For instance, if all Kenyans refused to give/take bribes then it would become a norm; a new normal. However, today Kenyans offer bribes even when they have not been asked to do so! Others, for instance policemen at a roadblock expect and demand bribes.

It is the custom, some would say!

On this angle, I asked those present this question: suppose the said clerk from the tea buying centre approached you and asked to “sell” you kilos of tea s/he had schemed, what would you do? Would you say no?

The silence in the room was palpable! One could hear a pin drop! Not one person said NO!

Kenyan mwananchi is as culpable as those that short-change them! Yet to win the war against corruption mwananchi must wake up and play his/her part.

Given the degree of corruption in the country, it is hard to get a credible champion to fight the vice. As an example, look at the Free Primary Education (FPE) funds scandal, where (in well-functioning societies) accounting officers (in this case the Minister and Permanent Secretary) should have stepped aside to facilitate investigations. They have stuck to their guns.

And when the Prime Minister waded into the debate, the matter became even more muddied! A group of MPs pointed to the PM’s double standards in handling corruption, citing the maize scandal that hit Kenyans sometime back. Then, the PM hadn’t called for any resignations and even when there is an audit report naming people high up in government and his office, the PM hasn’t asked these people to step aside.  Hence, the MPs, contend, if the two Professors (Sam Ongeri and Karega Mutahi) at Ministry of Education should resign then the PM should resign as well.

My personal take is that two wrongs do not make a right! The maize scandal hit Kenyans right in the belly. A few well-connected people took advantage of the intention to avail affordable unga to the people facing famine to enrich themselves. These should be punished as much as others that are culpable in the maize and other corruption scandals.

So let’s NOT cloud and obscure the fact that hundreds of thousands of Kenyan children were disadvantaged by the looting in the Ministry of Education. We need justice for these children who are really the nation’s future. We also need justice for the Kenyan hungry that were exploited by the well-connected political business busybodies in the maize scandal.

The other message I hear from the group of MPs protesting the PM’s call is that the PM is NOT a credible crusader against the vice of corruption. As much as his calls for resignation are right, he lacks the moral authority to make the call. It is like Jesus said to those condemning the harlot: he who is without sin should cast the first stone!

The MPs are right to point to the double standards of the PM. Unfortunately, they are also implying that “no one should cast the first stone”; and hence since all have sinned then none should rise up and say there is sin! It is kind of twisted logic which suggests that we continue down the path we are: of looting and plundering public resource because “it is the norm”.

Wrong message!

Looking for he who is without sin among Kenyan leadership, is like searching for the proverbial needle in a haystack. If most of this leadership were to tell Kenyans the truth, they would say thus: we “bought our elective offices; we are now recouping and replenishing for the next elections”.

My message to fellow Kenyans is simple: it is unrealistic to expect those in power today to get to the bottom of the endemic, debilitating effects of corruption. As I wrote a while back: Mganga Hajigangi! That was more than 3 years ago; it is as true today as it was then.

So what is the way forward?

As a country, we need to come to grips with the devastating cost and debilitating effects of corruption and its contribution to our underdevelopment. We need to start associating this vice with real life situations. For example, how many children would have had an education (or a better education) were the FPE funds spent as intended? What would happen to these children and their future? For instance, how much lost potential is there in these children that will NOT have the education that they deserved? And what does that count for the nation?

How about CDF? How many rural clinics, school classrooms, bridges, bursaries, etc would NOT happen because of theft from CDF coffers? Or how many tea farmers are not able to send their children to school because the clerk at the local buying centre stole from them for personal gain?

This reality should be a wake up call for all Kenyans. Then perhaps we can start playing our role in fighting the vice because doing otherwise would be a prescription for doom into the future.

There is more!

None of this will happen without leadership. And here is where the challenge falls on all patriotic Kenyans: stand up a lead against this endemic disease. Perhaps then, leadership would emerge; leadership that is untainted; and leadership that is “without sin to cast the first stone”.

Dr Matunda Nyanchama is an information security professional based in Canada; he is also past and founding president of the Kenyan Community Abroad (KCA). He can be reached at


Comment from susan MWANGI
Time: February 11, 2010, 1:07 pm

this is the reality kenyans have become so accoustomed to corruption that it actually has become part of our culture

Comment from Mwenda Ntarangwi
Time: February 11, 2010, 2:12 pm

Your insights are always refreshing Matunda. I remember a taxi driver who operates around Silver Springs telling me of his encounter with a traffic police officer. The taxi driver had dropped off a customer on Koinange and was double parked waiting for the jamaa to come back when the police officer accosted the driver and asked him to drive to the police station (Central). The taxi driver was shaken, his car was not his and he knew he would be in trouble, so he placed a five hundred boob note visibly around the coin storage area of his car in an attempt to bribe the cop as they were driving to Central. The cop got furious and somead the taxi driver asking him what he was doing. He told him that he did not want his money and went on to tell him that it was people like the taxi driver who gave police officers a bad name because they bribe without being asked to bribe simply because they did not want to deal with the consequences of breaking the law. Great encounter!

Comment from Nyachwaya Nyagwoka
Time: February 11, 2010, 8:15 pm

I admire yor insight on many issues, corruption included. I do not know how we shall go about solving the problem in a country where the law is meant for the weak and verunarable. Look at what is happening with parliamentary electral petitions. Small politicians like Joel Onyancha, Omingo Magara and Mwakwere are out while president Mwai Kibaki and Prime minister Raila Odinga who led in the stealing of the votes, only that one store more than the other, are sharing power. How do we expect such leadership to get us out of the woods? Prof Ongeri and prof Karega Mutahi should resign and so should Raila Odinga and his compatriots named in the maize scandal. Nobody is above the law. Kenya is bigger than all of them. President Mwai Kibaki should also resign for vote stealing and be ready to be charged in the Haig for commiting crimes against humanity in
kenya in 2007.

Nyachwaya Nyagwoka

Comment from Ditte
Time: February 17, 2010, 6:00 am

Yup corruption is increasing day by day its sad to hear about the increasing corruption there people life is under misery their lives is very hard their law and order is also weak. Many a time’s people are killed. Their situation is very bad.

Comment from mathew Kasini
Time: February 17, 2010, 9:56 pm


Comment from Jens
Time: February 23, 2010, 6:54 am

hi I feel sad after reading your blog. Corruption is the root cause of every problem. Law has to be very strong to control the Corruption. Corruption is making the life of the people misery

Comment from Matunda Nyanchama
Time: February 23, 2010, 10:18 am

Cyrillus N Oreko commented on your note “Corruption Needs Change of Attitude & Credible Crusaders”:

“Strongly agree with u here. i personally encountered this situation in my lifetime. could wake up six in the morning, carry my basket to pick tea. all day picking till i take it to the buying center. lineup from 1pm till 9pm. this is when u will be robbed ua kilos cause u’re tired and all u want is just weigh ua tea and head home. the clerk used to steall our tea and when u complain, the rest of the farmers will yell at u cause they r tired and wants to weigh and head home to feed their hungry family who have waited for their father /mom to come homethe whole day.Till we stand up against the vice, Kenya will need a Messiah, and till that happens, be ready for more suffering.there is too much Nepotism/tribalism in that if one does wrong from certain tribe, the whole tribe rallies behind him/she, in support of their own, the reason being that if somebody from a certain did and nothing was done , who then will allow the latter to happen? of cause no one. this is from my point of view nway and till the first mistake is addressed right when it happens, it will turn into a cancerous state very very difficult to heal.”

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Comment from Stafford Tandon
Time: March 4, 2010, 1:53 am

Corruption is everywhere there is no strong law to stop corruption. It makes people life difficult.

Comment from Dykkerferie
Time: March 10, 2010, 6:29 am

hi Matunda,
Indeed, there is corruption in Kenya and the ramifications of it are continues state of hardships and hoplesness for the poor people of this great nation. Of course, it is also true that sometimes the stories about corruption in Kenya are heart-rending. The reality is that the menace of corruption rages on even after the Government established the Kenya Anti Coruption Agency (KACA).

Comment from Charles Chief Aguatta Kinaro
Time: March 25, 2010, 1:06 pm

I must say that your blog is a wonderful forum for exchange of ideas. It has taken me long to comment on your blog b’cause the issues are always similar. That said, I would like to give my view on the politics and corruption in Kenya.

Your analysis of the situation in Kenya is accurate and there is no cure in sight. The current crop of politicians have enhanced the “norm”, which is the worst form of corruption. Many of those in parliament are not working for MWANANCHI but themselves. All debates in parliament are about their own interests and the common MWANANCHI is forgotten to be remembered come election time. Major development issues are lightly delt with and never completed. Scandals are talked about lightly and soon forgotten. The AG has never prosecuted those mentioned and hence his office is a disgrace and encourages the corruption.

From the countless commissions, and unprosecuted cases of corruption, MWANANCHI is not going to see anything different coming out of our present parliamentarians. The Anti-corruption watchdog, is doing nothing but drawing large salaries and enriching themselves at the expense of MWANANCHI. The two “Principals” have failed to LEAD and bring this vice under control. They are now busy planning for 2012. These two should be held accountable for the mess in the country.

What options are there for MWANANCHI?.

Register in large numbers and keep your votes safe. Help is soon coming. Watch this space for an upcoming posting. This writer has a solution that will rid Kenya of all the the corruption and impunity. There is HOPE and CHANGE is on the way.

Comment from niajeshe@
Time: April 7, 2010, 9:35 pm

Budalang’i MP Ababu Namwamba launched the Citizen’s CDF Report card documenting misuse of Constituency Development Funds at The Stanley hotel on Tuesday(2010,April 6th).

The report shows that most members of Parliament built single blocks and claimed more than 1.5 million without completing them like for the example the proposed R..Hospital that has absolutely nothing to show for itself.

I do not know exactly why the Kenya Anti Corruption Commission has been doing in dealing with corrupt individuals in Kenya.

The recently dropped bombshell, where The Education Ministry,Agricultural ministry and the newly re-carpeted cemetery scandal has been unrevealed.

The most portaging scenario that I cant hardly wait to see processed is another report launched. Finding conducted by overdubbed research teams that in the end, turn up to amount to another”Our turn to Eat”,.

Needles to say,past regimes have been sectioning resources abroad and nothing ever gets done.

To my recollection, most of the diplomatic posts where clearly divided amongst the two principles cronies and relatively relative.I hope Dr. Albert Einstein was clear in his theories of relativity.

Although(general relativity) unifies special relativity and Newton’s law of universal gravitation, and describes gravity as a geometric property of space and time, or spacetime, the ODM PNU marriage has failed to adequately address and come up with congrats solutions that the Kenyan mwananchi has long fought for with blood, aside from the post election Violence that saw Kenyans ganging along tribal lines for Violence that never benefited those involved..Ocampo?

Generally speaking, I think Kenya is a long way to measuring its space in the New Democrats of this Era.Countries like Ghana highly praise Kenyans for both their will and strength that ushered Democracy in that Nation.

I agree with Chief above. Help others that might make the necessary changes come into reality..Amazing how absolute power corrupts and my thoughts on the Proposed constitution are in line with Cardinal Njue. We need many Kenyans with gusto and undeterred determination to help propel the High priests of the Old Order.

**** ******

******* ****** ******

It is time for a Brand New Kenya, where every voice is listened to. Where politicians speak of leadership, instead of Politisizing each other in hopes of gaining Political mileage, while plotting to tarmac their ancestral home’s driveway, instead of helping create better transportation systems in their niche.

I tell you what I would do as an MP.

I would increase business;Help local farmers sell their produce ho,me and abroad.

Assist the local farmers own their produce instead of waiting for their monthly paycheck or working through cut backs from crooked clerks.

With International exposure, there are many ways of doing business with the rest of the world, while opening up rural areas and developing the much needed infrastructure.

A local MP chairs the local Security,Chamber of Commerce and Development in his/her jurisdiction. What is being doing in Embakasi?Where did those monies go?A concerned Kenyan in Lagos, Nigeria.

Comment from Andrew Sullivan
Time: April 22, 2010, 8:36 am

A government, for protecting business only, is but a slaughter, and soon falls by its own corruption and decay in wrong hands.

Comment from Daniel Barongo
Time: September 2, 2010, 9:29 am

Your blog is just wonderful.I wish the Minister for Justice and Constitutional affairs, the KACC Director and the AG had a chance of reading the nice comments posted herein.If they did, I would suggest to them that there is a big gap that needs to be attended to as a matter of urgency.

Comment from Alibaba Onyancha
Time: November 30, 2010, 3:39 pm

Army commander..a mwaniki, police iteere, NCIS..a Gichangi.. AP boss a mbugua..CID chief a mr muhoro. Tafakari hayo!

Comment from David maangi
Time: November 30, 2010, 6:32 pm

Wilileaks has documents of Moi era,soon be published..


This is under grand corruption

The looting of Kenya under President Moi – $3,000,000,000 presidential corruption exposed;

Swung the Dec 2007 Kenyan election, long document, be patient!


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