Corruption remains a serious threat to the successful implementation and achievement of development agendas of both the National and County Governments. Resources set aside for service delivery continually are misappropriated and outrightly stolen, to the detriment of the public. Corruption in Kenya has had serious implications on the country’s development and debt sustainability initiatives with Kenya’s public debt growing steadily over the years because of persistent fiscal deficits. Corruption has permeated every sector of Kenyan society to the point where it has become the social norm. So pervasive is corruption in Kenya that community members often frown at those who are not corrupt and instead reward the corrupt by electing them to political offices.
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The COVID-19 pandemic has brought forth its share of amplification of the corruption in the country. Money meant to cushion those affected by the pandemic could not be accounted for. Materials and equipment meant to help in fighting the pandemic also disappeared. Organizations came out strongly for action to be taken by the government on the culprits.
“We witnessed cases of corruption increasing in the country, even during the COVID-19 period. We are working hard to try and combat this vice that has affected our country,” Rev. Fr. Joseph Mutie, Inter-Religious Council of Kenya Chairman
As Kenyans, we all have a role to play and every individual can make a difference in the fight against corruption if we all accept the challenge. Despite the introduction of devolution in 2013, citizen participation in decision-making has remained a challenge. National initiative example the fight against corruption cannot be won without involving players at the grassroots.
It is in this view that the Inter-Religious Council of Kenya and the National Anti-Corruption Steering Committee (NACSCC) held regional consultation meetings to activate grassroots structures for this cause. Additionally, the regional level meetings sought to secure pledges from Regional level Stakeholders to cascade the campaign against corruption downstream. IRCK has always been at the forefront in addressing this vice. In 2017, IRCK entered into a memorandum with the Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission (EACC) to sustainably activate religious structures across the country to create awareness among Kenyans on corruption. For the regional launches the organizations identified the South Rift and Eastern Regions; comprising Nakuru and Baringo, and Makueni and Kitui respectively. The local interfaith networks with representatives from the main faith communities, the government, civil societies and other stakeholders attended the launches.
The Council aimed at initiating a public education, sensitization and awareness creation campaign at the regional level. In addition, having a multi-sectoral platform, which would aid in popularizing the Anti-corruption, messages to the grassroots. Through these local interfaith networks, Religious leaders would be able to disseminate copies of scripture-referenced Anti-Corruption booklets to congregational and community members.
During the regional launches, IRCK Chairman, Fr. Joseph Mutie emphasized that many stakeholders are working closely to defeat this dragon through a multi-sectoral approach with an established robust mechanism to eradicate the vice.
The war against corruption can and will be won when Kenyans also embrace the ‘bottom-up’ approach to the fight – by making the grassroots completely hostile and intolerant to corruption.
By Mary Ndulili