Ending Theft of Public Funds
This is one of our country’s greatest and cancerous challenges alongside Bad leadership. It has institutionalized impunity and a culture of stealing without condemnation. Theft of public money, looting and plunder of public wealth has conveniently been called Corruption. In our traditional and even tribal contexts, there is no such word as corruption. Thirdway is changing the narrative of corruption, and simply calls it what it is, that is, THEFT OF PUBLIC MONEY. Theft of public money has had serious devastating effects on the country. This is our plan to ending theft of public money.
Need to confront the historical & genesis of Stealing from the Public
Theft of public money and common good, commonly called corruption, is a known historical problem that successive governments deliberately and conveniently ignored for decades. This is primarily because those who benefit from theft of public money have continuously captured the state and its instruments. Fighting corruption therefore remains a mirage. From petty to grand corruption to today’s looting and plunder, it is important to trace the history of corruption. As early as 1975, Kenyans were lied to that we should build the Kenren fertilizer. This was never built and to date Kenyans are still paying for that non-existent factory. The political class leads in theft of public funds. For example, in 2016, 273 elected members of Parliament stole KES 4 billion. They simply killed the “public watchdog” role.
At the beginning was the Land Question
Immediately after independence, the ruling class embarked on land grabbing from the citizens. The top leadership shamelessly robbed the public of their ancestral land. A few families ended up owning almost half of Kenya’s arable land. In fact, the Mau Mau and other freedom fighters never got back the land they fought and died for. Senior civil servants were rewarded with land in a scheme referred to as Z-plots. Consequently, many ordinary citizens were dispossessed of the right to own the most important factor of production, land. We almost immediately became a consumer economy rather than a producing economy. Some realities are worth confronting if we must end theft of public money, commonly called corruption:
- Corruption is theft by Design: It is not by default that our country is dogged by unending cases of theft. It is by design. The foundation was set in 1963 and the ruling class that grabbed peasants’ land is still enjoying the fruits of their theft peacefully. They are entrenched into the leadership of our country. The beneficiaries of corruption cannot therefore end theft because they control the very institutions that are meant to prosecute theft.
- Theft by the political class: Over the years the political class stole from Kenyans undeterred. Among the richest Kenyans are former and current politicians. Most of these individuals joined politics poor but in a few years they became billionaires. It is therefore crystal clear that bad politics has watered the tree of corruption religiously for 54 years.
- Kenya held captive: The country is held captive by a small group of businessmen and politicians who run to their tribal bases for protection after milking the public coffers dry. This is part of the design in ensuring that no “outsider” or an offspring of a “nobody” takes over power.
Our Solutions to Theft of public money
A number of solutions are available that can end theft of public money. They are both immediate, short term and long term including instilling a value system in our public service. The following would ameliorate theft in the public service:
- First, we remove the “cancerous tumour” political leadership: Kenya needs a clean leadership without baggage and, especially one that has not benefited from the public coffers. That way it is easy to even begin to investigate theft or follow through and implement recommendations on how to end corruption. More deliberately, a leadership with political good will that would annihilate theft of public funds and resources is urgently needed. It cannot be the very people who have superintended over corruption, as is the case in both the current leadership in government and opposition.
- The public role: in an election, the public must focus on electing morally upright and individuals committed to public office. The public must play that role because they are victims of corruption; when money meant for medicine is stolen, it is the public that suffers; the public must see themselves as victims of corruption for corruption denies them: job opportunities, education, roads, food security, amongst other basic needs.
- Shun voting along tribal lines and embrace issue-based politics: Wananchi must stop tribal based politics which breeds the “Mbaya Wetu” syndrome and adopt issue based politics. The public holds the key to the success of the war on theft of public money. As long as voters continue to vote on tribal lines, the fight against corruption will always be a mirage. A corrupt leader elected on basis of tribe will always be re-elected and escape accountability.
- Use Audit reports: as the basis for initiating prosecution of public funds' thieves.
- Surcharge corrupt public officials: Sanction audit of current public debt and financial scandals and surcharge those who are culpable from 1975 when we were supposed to have had a Kenren fertilizer company whose debt we are still paying for to date. The surcharging will also relate to those who may have been culpable in the Goldenberg, Anglo Leasing and all other financial scandals. Not even their estates will be spared.
- Use of recovered money: We shall use proceed of recovered loot to pay part of the current ballooning public debt. We cannot continue borrowing to enrich a few fat cats as majority of Kenyans wallow in abject poverty
- Publicly distribute audit reports: Most Kenyans have never seen the Auditor General’s reports. The government is like a large public corporation whose shareholders are the public/tax payers. It is therefore not surprising that most voters believe irrelevant propaganda that is peddled by politicians. The national leadership deliberately prefers to amplify information on projects but avoids dwelling on mis-management and theft.
- Price capping: Our government will introduce price capping of price for all public procurement of goods and services. This will stop theft through over pricing. To this extent, we shall immediately, legislate to establish a government procurement price-capping department. Capping of prices will reduce super profits and no person will pay bribes out of normal profits. We shall automate tendering processes and the government will procure goods and services from the lowest bidder but below the capped price.
- Government suppliers to declare all their payees: Our government will introduce a system where all government suppliers declare all their payees. The system must be integrated with the tax system to help detect if the government suppliers and their payees declare 100% of their income. This will establish an audit on the dealings of government suppliers. We shall forth with, Legislate to require government suppliers to declare trail of their payees.
- Timely payment of suppliers: We shall enforce or legislate to ensure that government suppliers are paid within 45 days of delivery of a service and goods. We shall summarily dismiss any employee(s) who fails to settle supplier bills within the stipulated timeline.
- Progress reports on corruption cases: The judiciary and Office of the Director of Prosecution will be forced by law to publish progress reports of corruption/public funds theft in dailies and websites monthly. They must highlight reasons on stalled cases. In addition, corruption cases must be tried in not more than 30 days. We shall legislate to require judges to expose poor prosecution and investigations in event that thieves of public funds are acquitted. This will provide a platform to prosecute the prosecutor. The prosecutor must not be a gatekeeper for thieves.
- Establishment of international commission against impunity in Kenya: Recognizing the failure of anti-corruption efforts in the Country, Thirdway Alliance Kenya will request the UN to establish an Independent International Commission along the same lines as CICIG in Guatemala to investigate illegal cartels and criminal individuals that have infiltrated state institutions, fostering graft, impunity and undermining the Constitution of Kenya and folding the democratic gains achieved since the end of Moi regime in 2002. The Commission will carry out independent investigations into mega corruption, and act as complimentary prosecutor and to recommend policies to fight mega corruption in the country.