How Systems Fuel Corruption

“Corruption is a cancer that steals from the poor, eats away at governance & moral fiber and destroys trust.” – Robert Zoellick

Corruption is a hot topic all over the world. In Kenya, it has been a part of us from the precolonial era to the current day where there are incidences, claims and accusations on corruption. As time goes by, it is becoming inherent in us that corruption is a way of life, rather sad I’d say. Yesterday, when scrolling through twitter I came to a post by a senior Economist in the country, Dr David Ndii, talking about corruption and the party led by the current deputy president, UDA. On his account, corruption is part and parcel of Kenyans especially the party to the extent no Kenyan should expect UDA to champion for anti-corruption. That’s not the principle upon which they intend to win the elections for they are all corrupt as party members. Question is, how did we get to this point as a society?

On another account, he gave an analogy of the traffic management system, where he alluded to one committing a traffic offence which is to be penalized through a fine but to follow the due process will mean one loses an entire day of work & ultimately paying the fine often to the tune of Kshs. 10,000. The alternative is bribing the police officers often with as little as Kshs. 50 or so and getting to go on with your errands for the day. It’s a no brainer that the latter would be the most preferred option for anyone not only for the cost of it but rather the time factor that one has to waste an entire day following the due process. This is the reality we have to contend with on a daily basis in the conduct of our affairs as individuals. How can we expect change when the systems are designed to dissuade integrity & good conduct while fueling vices?

I’ve written a couple of times on corruption and the ills of corruption ranging from laying the foundationconvenient liesis it in our DNAit takes two to tango among others. As much as I argue for our individual roles and responsibilities in uprooting the vice of corruption, I acknowledge that just as businesses need an enabling business environment, we need enabling systems to be able to weed out corruption. When standard government services are not being discharged with efficiency with provisions to corrupt the system and get the services one needs with convenience, it’s given people will seek the alternative. Case in point is the traffic scenario alluded to above and others such as obtaining a passport, birth certificate among others where at times it would take up to a month yet by corrupting the system you are able to get the same document in less than 48hrs. In other words, efficiencies are possible in these institutions but they lack the incentive to stay efficient through the standard ethical processes and therefore the alternative corrupt channels are lucrative as they are.

I believe it is a moment for us as a society to make the right decisions in the coming year to elect the right leaders, commit to do our best in our places of work to foster efficiencies while creating systems that would weed out corruption & corrupt individuals and finally commit to go the whole way to anchor these solutions. As for every system, there’s need for the right leadership, a community of champions to share best practices and foster the culture of excellence coupled with consistency in follow through to ensure it’s an integral component of the organization or nation. Let’s commit to do better.

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