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Citizens need to play their role in the fight against corruption

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Citizens need to play their role in the fight against corruption

April 04 th.

 

On legislation; the country seems to have re/enacted several laws touching on almost all aspects including: bribery, fraud, cheating, embezzlement, conflict of interest, information hoarding, falsification, evasion, extortion, kickbacks, swindling graft and the list is endless.   The law seems “tougher” by day and is aimed at fostering a strong will, deterrence and punishment of corrupt acts.  Our Constitution is also particular on good governance, integrity in leadership and the promotion of national values. It also guarantees freedoms and the protection of liberties such as access to information which are integral in the fight against corruption.

This vice, whatever the definition and form; undermines the rule of law, disintegrates national fabric, hampers performance of institutions and hinders service delivery. It also reduces investments, promotes inefficiency, undermines optimal resource utilization and challenges the livelihood of citizens. Painstakingly, it has equally triggered other social ills such as poverty and insecurity. These huge costs and side-effects of corruption are often borne by the citizens.  They tirelessly contribute to development only for their return on investments to be eroded.  

It is time to reflect on the role of citizens as antidote. Kenya`s war on corruption beckons to all of us. This is urgent as the shadowy effects of corruption persist in all echelons of society. Further, our micro and macroeconomic stability and future is dependent on success or failure in tackling corruption. The reading on the wall now demands proactive citizens` action.

The role of citizens in anti-corruption should be based on both the principle of accountability and the practical power of external scrutiny. The United Nations Convention Against Corruption (article 13) underscores the significance of citizens in this cause. The clarion call is not strange nor in vain. Countries such as Denmark and Botswana which seem to have persistent low corruption levels have intensified citizen engagement. Simply put, they have opened up avenues for transparency in decision-making and are cognizant of citizens` views.  This could be the missing link in our situation.

The citizens in these “clean” countries are known to be proactive in sharing information and reporting corruption incidences with relevant institutions. They have also beefed up monitoring and evaluation of projects and participate in making key decisions. Their focus on day to day self and communal accountability has also tended to dilute corruption. We should now hail and embrace these practices. We must also seek to benchmark with the best and provide the best citizen frontiers in the war. More deeply, we should reflect Kenya`s broader values such as integrity, accountability, rule of law and the effectiveness of our institutions in responding to citizen push. 

It should be recalled that citizens have the ultimate power and responsibility in governance as enshrined in the Constitution.  It will be sad if they refuse to use that power in anti-corruption.  However, we need to answer a couple of questions:  Is our citizen different? Is the citizen empowered with relevant information to practically fight corruption? Is the citizen aware of the anti-corruption avenues? Is the citizen protected? Is the citizen sober? The answer lies on the beholder!

Written by:

Jacob Otachi

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You are here: Home Get Updates Blog Citizens need to play their role in the fight against corruption