Saturday, March 17, 2007

Corruption Stigma Comes Haunting ODM-Kenya on London Trip!

Corruption stigma came haunting at least two ODM-Kenya presidential candidates during the failed London trip, planned for the candidates. The British government was not amused by William Ruto visa application to travel to London and going by the reports in Kenya dailies, they refused to grant him a visa. Musila Mudavadi might have foreseen the fate that befell his counterpart Ruto and cleverly declined to be part of the group travelling to London. In this instance, the British government demonstrated its distaste for corruption irrespective which quarter it comes from – the government or the opposition. But has the Kenyans and their leaders inculcated such a dislike for corruption? The few instances below show that this is not the case. We glorify corruption when it involves the leaders, especially those in the opposition.

Firstly, it was disturbing to see the insensitivity by the ODM presidential candidates who had the audacity to claim that they failed to undertake the trip in support of Ruto who was denied a visa. Either this portrays their naivety or the lip service they pay to the war on corruption. At least there is no greatness in showing solidarity with any form of corruption either alleged or proved. They even tried to allege that the Ministry of Justice had a hand in it by leaking a list to the British Embassy in Kenya. The same blame game as always, no taking responsibility. But the Minister of Justice Martha Karua, in her character, could not take this and she responded “if I had done it the list would have been longer”.

Secondly, Kenyans seem to accept “the solidarity with Ruto” explanation by the ODM candidates without any critical reflection. They did not question why leaders would support Ruto or another person on corruption claims. Shouldn’t Kenyans have expected to hear from the leaders “let everyone carry their own cross”? Remember the Murungaru case how he was disowned by all. Are Kenyans so gullible to allow their leaders to easily cheat them on this one?

Thirdly, the media also is guilty of insensitivity to corruption when it does not involve the government. Unlike the critical media we witness, when corruption is from the government quarters – just remember the Murungaru case again – this time round the media conspired to remain silent. Is it that corruption is only serious or distasteful when it involves the government of the day and not those in the yesterdays government? Why double moral standards on the war against corruption by the media?

Fourthly, Raila Odinga tried to explain Rutos corruption charges away to his London audience by invoking rule of law. That is a clever way to handle the issue. But the hypocrisy is clear when the same leader does not give his opponents the same benefit of “innocent until proved guilty”. Rule of law is a sword and it cuts both ways - for Rutos and Murungarus. Again why double moral standards?

Fifthly, even the defender of human rights, Maina Kiai, has not seen it necessary to tell the leaders off, as is his character when the government is involved. The solidarity shown by these leaders is so distasteful to the war against corruption that Maina Kiai or the National Commission for Human Rights s silence is abominable. Again why double moral standards?

As we have stated in this blog, the fight against corruption cannot be won without a clear dislike for it. To fight corruption effectively, we should not condone it at all. It is necessary to reject leaders involved in corruption whether alleged or proved. We should borrow a leaf from the British government and show our distaste for corruption by locking out those with corruption tags from public and elective offices and not support them. In the case above, the society failed to tell Ruto and his counterparts that corruption is not acceptable in the highest office or any other office in the country. In fact, there is a need for a law that clearly bars and bans anyone involved in corruption from running for any public and elective office until the corruption allegations or charges are cleared. The call for minimum reforms should include such a provision or law.

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