Kenya: Why Kenya is Drowning in a High Grand Dam of Corruption and How to Start Fixing the Problem

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The ancient Greek philosopher and historian Polybius (200-118 BC) attributed the social decay and destruction of the kingdom of Carthage to its political corruption and weak moral values whilst the growth and prosperity of the Roman Empire was traceable to its high discipline and political standards. Thus in Carthage the lax moral values ensured that "nothing which results in profit is regarded as disgraceful" whilst in the Roman Empire "unscrupulous gain from forbidden sources" was condemned and the death penalty was the punishment for bribery.

During the six year Jubilee era Kenya is fast becoming the modern-day Carthage. Like old Carthage Kenya is soft on corruption and nothing dramatizes this fact more than the irony of appointing a retired priest in the person of Archbishop Eliud Wabukala to head the Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission. As it is with most white-collar crimes in Kenya the law imposes soft punishments on convicts of corruption offences.

Invariably, blue collar crimes are punished by long imprisonment including death in case of robbery. When it comes to corruption however the punishment is "a fine not exceeding one million shillings, or to imprisonment for a term not exceeding ten years, or to both". In other words, in the unlikely event of conviction the corrupt offender has a statutory chance to escape jail by paying a fine which is virtually a right for a first offender. The provision for the ten years imprisonment is nothing but a red herring to pretend that Parliament takes corruption seriously.

The imprint point to note is that under the current legal framework apart from one's personal morality there are no genuine or effective checks against involvement in corruption by any person with opportunity to do so. This is precisely why in the wake of shocking revelations about the audacity of stealing public funds for the construction of Arror and Kimwarer dams many desperate Kenyans including Rev. Timothy Njoya have called for introduction of death penalty to punish persons convicted of corruption. No doubt severe punishment might help to scare off some potential criminals but experience with crimes of robbery and murder in Kenya shows that the death sentence - which is never carried out anyway - does not scare many potential criminals. In other words the problem of corruption is deeper than most people realize and such superficial steps of imposing severer punishments may not produce miracles.

Moreover, the immediate effect of the death sentence might be a steep rise in bribes to corrupt the criminal justice system resulting in fewer convictions as opposed to reduction in commission of corruption offences. Equally notable cajoling the Chief Justice to demand more convictions by trial magistrates might help a bit so long as the renewed determination to fight graft is not perceived as a temporary fight to achieve political ends.

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