We have seen it, we detest it, we castigate and distance ourselves from it; yet like Hydra, a multi-headed serpentine water monster from Greek mythology, just when we think a death blow has been delivered, we are faced with a regenerated form much worse and more powerful than the one before it and have been treated to round upon of sensational pillage from public and private coffers. Such is our dance with corruption in Kenya.
Everyone seems to want to fight it, at least we say it loud, but the efforts fall short and the results are wanting.
I find it curious that we are now pushing quite heavily the use of technology with the fight against corruption as the problem statement. Let us start with its definition for context. Corruption is "a form of dishonesty undertaken by a person entrusted with a position of authority, often to acquire personal benefit. Corruption may include many activities including bribery and embezzlement, though it may also involve practices that are legal in many countries."
Entrusted means access, which by a large measure already implies an advantage whether one of physical proximity or information. In cases like this and many others, the availability of technology seems to only accelerate the speed of the heist and the bounty targeted.
The compromise of government's Integrated Financial Management Information System, kickback schemes from tenderpreneurs, the quiet looting of local banks, mobile money fraud perpetrated by the "men from Kamiti" are all aided by access to both technology and information and I am not sure that throwing more technology at the issue is the solution.
Snacking on comments from social media following the latest serving of misappropriated billions, it is evident that many commentators feel that those who have been caught were foolish enough to leave trails, disenfranchise collaborators or worse still draw attention to themselves with opulent lifestyles and that "I would be much smarter given the ‘opportunity’!"
The Kenya Youth Survey Report commissioned by the East African Institute in 2016 revealed that the majority of Kenya’s youthful population have numbed their conscience on the matter and will legitimize it one way or another, itching for a seat at the table for their turn to eat.
Perhaps our only fallback is interventions with deep social and personal ramifications – whose form I am yet to synthesize. It seems technology cannot really help us with this animal.
Cover image credit: Report corruption cases here. Regina Hart/Flickr