Cor­rup­tion is hy­dra-headed. Ev­ery time we cut off one head, two more emerge

The Star (Kenya) - - Voices - AU­GUS­TINE GITONGA Com­ments on top­i­cal so­cial is­sues

Af­ter 53 years of In­de­pen­dence, we have only had four Pres­i­dents. A not-so-sci­en­tific but in­ter­est­ing at­tempt at list­ing the “most in­tel­li­gent Pres­i­dents in the US his­tory” enu­mer­ates no­table ac­tions and de­ci­sions of some 27 of them who may have changed or stayed the na­tion’s course to be­com­ing a su­per­power. It does not in­clude the 44th, Barack Obama.

Per­son­al­ity, de­ci­sive­ness and var­i­ous acts of valour, self­sac­ri­fice and de­nounc­ing friends for the greater pub­lic good are some of the man­i­fest cre­den­tials.

Last month, we cel­e­brated Mashu­jaa Day though we seem to not re­ally know who qual­i­fies to be a shu­jaa. Vil­lains in cer­tain ar­eas were recog­nised and in­stead oth­ers some­how be­lieved to be the heroes were cel­e­brated.

Heroes are not saints. For­mer South African Pres­i­dent, the late Nel­son Man­dela, ad­mit­ted as much, con­fess­ing to hav­ing har­boured some per­sonal frail­ties and re­grets. He may have wisely cho­sen to rule for only one term in­stead of servicing a sec­ond term, which could have ex­posed those weak­nesses and di­min­ish his stature.

Equally among the US Pres­i­dents, there are some who are rated highly, un­like oth­ers. Of some it has been quipped that if one “is in­tel­li­gent and cor­rupt, (they) will be in­tel­li­gently cor­rupt”— able to con­nive through their reign as the masses cheer them on. This may be what ails our coun­try. Cor­rup­tion is not even in­tel­li­gent, but politi­cians have dis­cov­ered the one trump card that they can al­ways play against the masses — trib­al­ism!

Pres­i­dent Uhuru Keny­atta can pre­side over a das­tardly cor­rupt gov­ern­ment, but the Kikuyu com­mu­nity in par­tic­u­lar and oth­ers who sup­port him and Deputy Pres­i­dent Uhuru Keny­atta have no choice but to suck up to their in­ept­ness. That’s why he has the nerve to say “there is noth­ing more [he] can do about cor­rup­tion be­cause he has done his part”. When his co­horts are men­tioned in cor­rupt deals, their ca­bals join hands to de­fend them. Their cor­rupt ways have in­fected the county gov­ern­ments and pub­lic in­sti­tu­tions across the coun­try.

Even the op­po­si­tion that wishes to form the gov­ern­ment is a mot­ley col­lec­tion of ‘jilted lovers’ with their own records of wheeler-deal­ing. They are only sali­vat­ing over the deals they had ac­cess to dur­ing their stints in gov­ern­ment.

To­day peo­ple are dy­ing. If road car­nage, un­der-equipped health fa­cil­i­ties and crime — to men­tion a few prob­lems — are any­thing to go by, then cor­rup­tion is mur­der. Cor­rup­tion is hy­dra-headed. Ev­ery time we think we lopped off one head, two more emerge. It ap­pears im­mor­tal. That Her­cules found a way to per­ma­nently slay the dragon means we too can slay our own cor­rup­tion dragon. But it calls for a Her­cules will­ing to shoul­der the bur­den be­cause Pres­i­dent Uhuru will not — he has ad­mit­ted as much.

The at­tributes vot­ers should seek in their chief ex­ec­u­tive are hon­esty, con­sis­tency, good morals and sound judge­ment. In our case, the jury is still out as to whether the voter got any of these. Politi­cians more than dab­ble in the darker po­lit­i­cal arts — de­cep­tion, flip-flop­ping, fak­ery and hypocrisy, but vot­ers are not sup­posed to see these. But these are what we get, to­gether with act­ing out of per­sonal am­bi­tion rather than the pub­lic good. The Pres­i­dent is pow­er­ful. Those men have ruled the US — a woman is al­most get­ting there — made Amer­ica great by mak­ing ma­jor per­sonal and po­lit­i­cal sac­ri­fices, and by be­ing de­ci­sive when the odds were against them.

Mr Pres­i­dent, you got the power, ex­er­cise it! Dis­ap­point a friend, ap­pear bel­liger­ent, be bold: Be the Pres­i­dent. Etch your name on the list of heroes — or in the an­nals of our pres­i­den­tial his­tory you will be an ig­no­min­ious vil­lain.

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