Kenyans have always been outraged by reports of looting in epic proportions of public funds by officials and their cronies on a daily basis. The latest report of $50 million that cannot be accounted for by the health ministry in the last financial year (2015/16) is as astonishing as it is infuriating.
At times, it is hard to write a positive story when such things happen like it is the way of life but the only way to do that is to confront the bull by the horns by shining the spotlight on such issues. How does one, for instance, explain the fact that thousands of Kenyans are now grappling with how to live to see the next day because of famine in the country, when billions of public funds are lost each year corruption?
How does one explain the fact that many cancer patients die every day, others selling family possessions just to take their loved ones to India for cancer treatment? While this happens, billions of shillings meant for improving health services and buying cancer machines are stolen every year with reckless abandon.
How, again does one explain the fact that thousands of youth are unemployed and destitute because the money that was meant to create employment opportunities for them through development of countrywide program in infrastructure, water, sanitation, savings and loans, was lost and none of the perpetrators is in jail? How can one explain the fact that someone whose parent, child, acquaintance, relative or neighbor died because they could not access or afford basic healthcare services but can still vote for the politician accused or charged with dipping their fingers in the public purse? It is heart breaking, to say the least.
When politicians, the ruling class, the business community and tenderpreneurs engage or collude in outright theft of public funds, there is little money left to build schools and healthcare facilities across the country. Because of this, there is less money for building roads and opening up rural areas to markets for their produce. There is less or no money left for provision of water or for subsidizing education, agricultural inputs or medicines. In effect, the poor become poorer, those making an honest living struggle and the perpetrators continue becoming richer. The country suffers on all fronts. Foreign investors are not able to come in and invest in a country where corruption is the order of the day. Local businesses, too, suffer as they have to pay more taxes or bribe to get licenses or access public services.
Corruption is not only the biggest threat to a country's security (not mentioning the al-Shabaab menace in Kenya's case) but also a real threat to the livelihoods of millions of people. Millions of citizens struggle to survive while a few, with an insatiable appetite for theft of public funds, live like kings and queens in palaces. And for a populace that is increasingly getting irked by the grandiose thieving ways of those in charge of public finances, what is left is a revolution, in my opinion, to drive them out of town. More heads need to roll, more big fish need to rot in prison or face the hangman’s noose, if possible. This is it can serve to send a message that stealing people’s livelihoods and destroying the future of millions of people, is a taboo.
Photo Credit: Center for International Private Partnerships.