The corrupt among us are a cancer that we must surgically remove. If we do not, they will metastasize and target more and more organs. Eventually they will kill us as a nation. Where we surgically remove them, there will be pain, a long period of national recuperation but, hopefully, a return to good health. That is the increasingly common tale of cancer. The President has laid down a gauntlet, or half of one. It remains to be seen what will become of the presidential challenge.
The challenge is not just to parliament, the forty-seven county governments, the Judiciary or the public service alone, but also to us all. Some of us seem to have panned the president's challenge and decided that we really couldn't be bothered at all. Take the comedian, for example. After he made an ass of himself regarding whether or not marred women should only feel safe within certain hours of the day, he had the temerity to invite a charlatan to his nationally broadcast show to, I shit you not, pray for the nation. Corruption is not just when someone fiddles with public funds to our great loss, it is also when we stand by as another robs us not just of our money but our dignity. What the comedian allowed the charlatan to do is unconscionable. I have a feeling he will not be apologising for that any time soon.
We have turned a blind eye to the robbers among us, and we have rationalised it with mealy-mouthed words like "the world is unfair" and "this is the cost of doing business in Kenya." None of us want to die poor; so we will mouth the right anti-corruption slogans while making intricate plans to swindle the next man to come along. In David Ndii's words, we all wish to live and prosper at the expense of others, and where the cost of that living an prospering at the expense of others is low, we will do it with impunity. In Kenya the cost of corruption is shockingly low.
But the Nitpicker's solution is no good if everyone is on the take, whether they are in the government or the much vaunted private sector. The insidious relationship between the private sector and "senior" public officers is no longer an open secret; "scratch my back and I will scratch yours" must be their slogan. I wonder how many people marvelled at the irony of the manner by which Kenya's only anti-corruption czar was appointed. Old men who were in Mwai Kibaki's circle engineered his appointment. That alone guaranteed that no matter his good intentions, there will forever be doubts about his probity for accepting the appointment in the first place. If the private sector is just as riddled with corruption as the public sector, hopes of it overseeing the public coffers with a beancounter's mien are slender.
There is hope, though, and it may lie between the bold proposal by the Nitpicker and the equally bold, though secretive, challenge by the President. It is a proposal by Wanjiru Gikonyo, the national co-ordinator for The Institute for Social Accountability, where she insists that it is not just the judicial process that will guarantee anti-corruption success, but the ruthless use of administrative procedures to weed out the corrupt. The administrative acts of public servants are not covered by Article 31 on privacy, and can be exposed under Article 35 on our right to information. It is time that all administrative heads of institutions, and those that do business with the government, published the names of those with five-fingered-discounts tastes for the whole world to know. And then had them prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law. Name them. Shame them. Prosecute them.