MARKETING AFRICA MAL 18/17 mal 18:17 online - Page 54

whenever governors who belong to Opposition parties are fingered in corrupt deals. The message is simple, “Corruption is bad so long as someone else is involved. But when it is one of our own, we should not lift a finger.” Besides, we have not yet touched on public wastage both in National and County Government. And when someone is identified with corruption, or poor use of public funds, s/he gets ready defenders in the ethnic community. The defence may be from the tribe – if the issue is happening at the National level – or the clan, when the matters are at the County level. Corruption is, accordingly, alive and well in our country. If you have what is considered to be “a good job,” in government and even in the Private Sector, you are considered to be “a fool” if you do not steal by virtue of your office. “You have no brains. ” It is, therefore, almost something of a shock when someone asks us to address a gathering such as this on making public money count and seeking accountability in public finance. Where does this malady begin? How could we possibly arrest it and bring it to an end? How do we begin being accountable to ourselves? These are the fundamental questions before us. To answer them, we need to reflect on our philosophy of government and why people vehemently seek to go into government. In the end, it boils down to our attitude and beliefs about public finance, public procurement and public audit. Public Finance, Procurement And Audit As Political Incentives Corruption in government in Kenya gravitates around the three 52 MAL 18/17 ISSUE ‘‘ Professionals must take the lead. They must not only offer themselves for political competition, they must also speak out through their professional bodies on the need for accountable leadership. Beyond this, they must participate in educating the larger public on accountability and on the cancerous lie that is tribal politics. They must consciously strive to influence political trends and outcomes. They must come out to vote and ask others to come out and vote, too.’’ disciplines of public finance, public procurement and public audit. If you can capture and take hostage of the three functions and soundly have them under your armpit, you can steal from public coffers with untrammelled impunity. Charles Hornsby has discussed this phenomenon in Kenya in his great work titled Kenya, A History Of 50 Years Since Independence. Under the heading “Corruption and Prebendalism” Hornsby recalls how in the 1980s the Kenyan economy was booming. “The State had control over large and valuable assets,” he says. Hornsby observes that, regrettably, most of these assets were left “vulnerable to exploitation by those holding the levers of political power.” Hornsby observes further, “Access to the resources that the State commanded and the ability to direct them for personal gain and political purposes was in fact a fundamental driver for competitive politics.” This is the essence of prebendalism. Those who occupy powerful political office consider the opportunity for misappropriation of public funds to be part of their legitimate entitlement and benefits. The public, too, seems to quietly agree with them that this is their entitlement. You, therefore, occupy public office not so that you can serve, but so that you can become rich. This is Kenya’s present philosophy of government. Even the daily Press describes government ministries in terms of “lucrative” and “non- lucrative” ministries. The question that is not asked is, “Lucrative to whom, and for what purpose?” Corruption is hence a benefit of being in power. The instruments and institutions of public accountability may be well in place. Those in power want to remain there so that they can continue to reap this benefit. Those outside want to get in so that they can take over, thus the notion of “It’s our turn to eat.” You are unhappy not because the people in power are corrupt, but because you are not part of the eating team. That is why in Kenya we have heard it said, “We are stuffing ourselves with juicy meats while you only look on and drool.” In the European Medieval Age (5th to 15th Centuries AD),