A study done by Price Waterhouse Coopers officially ranked Kenya as the 3rd most corrupt country in the world back in early 2016. This announcement comes during a time of severe unrest and public anger over the thefts of recent public resources that uncovered the loss of nearly Sh791 million dollars from the National Youth Service.
History of Corruption in Kenya
It is estimated that a Kenyan pays on average 16 bribes per month to “keep things in order”. And though most of those bribes are small contributions to the larger whole, they are not limited to just the day to day lives of those living in urban areas. In fact, big business has been accused of taking bribes worth over 50,000 Kenyan shillings equating to nearly 41% of the total bribes reported each year.
1990’s – Power Station Scandal and More
One of the biggest corruption scandals was in 1990 during the construction of the Turkwel Hydroelectric Power Station which reportedly cost nearly three times the amount originally quoted during the initial build phase.
The longest running scandal is the Goldenberg scandal where the Kenyan government is accused of subsidizing the exports of gold to pay off the exporters in shillings, resulting in an overcharge of nearly 35%. In addition, the gold was often smuggled through the Congo, going undetected and untraceable.
2000’s – Double Trouble
Skip ahead ten years and the amount of allegations for corruption easily doubled as the Kenyan government continued to struggle to keep order in the region. Scandals ranging from prison departments, to motor companies, police stations, to even the President at the time, Mwai Kibaki holding secret meetings with senior opposing figure Kalonzo Musyoka resulting in the raid of the Standard newspaper.
2010’s – Change in the Wind
In recent times, the Kenyan government has worked towards eliminating the on-going corruption and destruction this trend has created for the country. With only a few scandals being reported over recent years, many are hoping that this is a sign the government is finally ready to take charge, remove those that are corrupt from power and enforce the laws and regulations the country needs to move from the top of the list of “most corrupt countries in the world.”
Is Kenya Finally Ready for Change?
BBC news found that in a recent survey, 75% of the Kenyan population still believe that corruption is a major problem especially for those in political power. The government hasn’t done much to change the minds of the people and with President Uhuru Muigai Kenyatta spending more time “talking” about the issue than ordering change and forcing jail time for those accused, the country is still in limbo when it comes to the overall stance on change.
Kenyan’s are looking for a leader they can count on to take action, directing their political leaders to show more balance in their efforts like the admired neighboring President of Tanzania, John Magufuli. While the Kenyan population yearns for a leader that can show decisive action against those “bleeding the country dry”, the President seems to be a bit more reserved with his stance stating, “Kenyans are experienced in stealing and perpetuating other crimes”.
While Kenya continues to battle corruption, the people are clearly ready for change. When an average Kenyan can go to jail for an undetermined time for stealing a chicken and yet a political or business figure can steal millions from the economy and walk free, time for change is in dire need for the country to move out of their current cycle of corruption, and the people are demanding change.