Corruption Where Corruption Starts

Corruption: Where Corruption Starts

In essence, corruption refers to the misuse of entrusted power for private gain. Over the last decade, Kenyans have witnessed an indication – however slight – of the State’s willingness to combat corruption’s damaging prospects to national development.

Despite concerted efforts to expunge the traces of this longstanding pandemic, it is certain that little progress can be made without a major paradigm shift from a national ethos that seems to expect authority to go hand in hand with corruption, to one that rejects corruption under any circumstances; be it petty or grand, political or police, institutional or corporate corruption. Bloomberg News columnist Margaret Carlson says:

As a columnist, I realize that whatever amount of corruption I expose, half my readers will block it out, although they may get a frisson of joy in the process.

This is very much the situation we find ourselves in, and in my view, the very strength of corruption. Corruption began a long time ago, long before our own independence, and the presidency has done little to improve the situation. It is arguable that the fact that we as citizens are not entirely vigilant in our stance against corruption is where it all begins. Bribes are pretty much a part of our daily life and as such we can hardly mount an effective campaign against it. A violator of traffic rule can collude with the police constable on duty to avoid fine. A politician exercises his or her influence, bribes a government functionary and gets license for doing business in a particular sector (Khan, 2006).

Lobbying against corruption then later backing our hand to find a way out of trouble when it is convenient for us simply amounts to stepping over our own rhetoric (Sirota, 2006). When the government itself is shrouded in continual cases of grand corruption with no seeming end to it all, then charting the way forward becomes next to impossible. From the recent allegations of fraud by suspended Higher Education minister William Ruto to the much more discussed yet still unresolved Goldenberg and Anglo-Leasing scams, what this has generated is a culture of impunity that has if anything encouraged corruption. Essentially, the government must realize that its continuous lack of effect in corruption cases is the very root of corruption in Kenya.

The formation of the Kenya Anti-Corruption Commission (KACC) was initially seen as a positive step after the 2007/2008 post-election violence, but it was then dogged by impunity issues on the part of the then Commissioner, Bethwell Kiplagat. Such is the state of the Kenyan fight against impunity. Public trust in the government as regards ethics, integrity and accountability needs to be rebuilt and sustained for any nation to be capable of combating corruption. Only when the rule of the day is seen to be transparent as an institution can there be any justifiable course of reform.

It is worth note that as a result of activist pressures, state institutions are beginning to adapt to changing realities. The pace may be slow, but with the advent of our new constitution, perhaps the executive, judicial and legislative branches of government will all be challenged to redefine their roles and to improve performance. With the looming 2012 elections, however, it would hardly be instructive to read too much into political games that imply accountability.


Khan, M. A. (2006). Role of Audit in Fighting Corruption. Russia: UNMIS. <,4027da17&icp=1&.intl=us&sig=7uJhpfO5VymkzZC9Rk2Eyw–>.

Sirota, David. “The marriage of hypocrisy and corruption in Washington.” The Denver Post 29 Mar. 2007. 19 Nov. 2010: