Though the link hasn’t been profoundly established, there exists a symbiotic relationship between corruption and genocide in Sub-Saharan Africa. In most states where rampant incidences of corruption are experienced, the likelihood of a genocide occurring or being in progress already increases by a significant proportion. Founder and President of Genocide Watch, Dr. Gregory Stanton once delivered a speech on the link between corruption and genocide in South Africa.( http://genocidewatch.net/2016/02/29/dr-stanton-on-corruption-and-genocide/) Though in his speech his main focus was on South Africa, the main points which he delivered when generalized throughout the continent seem to apply in other countries facing the vices as well.
In his speech, Dr. Stanton points out the way corrupt governments stay in power: using corrupt means to accumulate mass wealth and hide it in offshore banks which operate under a strict code of secrecy, hence don’t question where the funds they receive actually come from! Once hidden, the corrupt leaders are able to channel the funds which they have stolen to serve their own purposes; which most of the time is to persecute, torture, bribe or murder anyone who challenges their rule. Thus most Sub-Saharan countries are stuck in a vicious cycle of electing bad leaders: since these corrupt leaders are able to use their illegally acquired wealth to either buy off voters; or systematically undermine the electoral process in these countries by either disrupting the voting process, or rigging the entire elections by bribing the electoral commissioners and returning officers in polling stations. Thus the reason why most elections in sub-Saharan Africa are never usually peaceful is because 70% of the time there is usually an aspect of interference involved; which in more developed countries with a strong judicial justice system, would result in the process being declared null or illegal.
In most cases, these leaders usually have law enforcement and judicial service contacts in their pockets. They are able to call them for favors in case things go south. In some Sub- Saharan countries, even the military might be involved to make sure that citizens cannot massively protest against an openly rigged election! Usually when citizens try to protest, elite police squads or locally formed militia are deployed whose mandate is to stop the civil disobedience by any means necessary! As can be seen in the Post-election violence in Kenya in 2008 which almost turned in to genocide and the current state of affairs in Burundi another East African country; we have an opportunity to see this symbiotic link between the two vices once again! Years before the election, (in both examples) there was massive looting of public funds by the governments in power! In Kenya, for example we had the multi-billion shillings Anglo-leasing scandal and the militia problem of the ‘Mungiki’ attain its peak in 2007 right before the general election! A coincidence? Perhaps but if it is it would be a very convenient coincidence for the politicians in power considering the militia’s role in the 2007-2008 PEV (Post Election Violence). Also, the fact that the leaders of these gangs were all systematically ‘eliminated’; except for a few who chose to ‘reform’ (play by the governments rules) is also very convenient! Almost too convenient! It’s almost as if the government was tying up its loose ends! No effort was made to capture them alive or bring them to face trial! They were all assassinated. (A link to a documentary video done by popular journalist Ross Kemp on the Mungiki movement in Kenya: https://youtu.be/a5Yante_AlA )
Skip forward almost eight years later in Kenya, with elections just a year away; some of the signs of these vices are beginning to crop up! The current government is facing massive corruption accusations amounting to billions of shillings allegedly ‘lost’. Within a span of two years, there have been three major corruption revelations by the opposition and other Kenyan whistle blowers. NB: I said major corruption revelations; there are others but not of such a large magnitude! The government so far has been unable to account for the money that the opposition claims to have been stolen from the public coffers; now alleged to be in the hidden private bank accounts of some few well-known wealthy and powerful individuals’ companies.
The last genocide watch report in 2014 indicates Kenya was currently on level six of the eight stage genocide model. (http://genocidewatch.net/alerts-2/new-alerts/ )
By now we could probably be on the seventh stage of the model, which is the last stage before actual violence breaks out. Already there is massive mistrust among pro-government supporters and opposition supporters in the country, which would serve as a launching pad for attacks. Presidential appointments in key parastatals and ministries are being made on a loyalist basis with clear disregard of the constitution. Especially, Chapter 13 (The Public Service – Part 1 – Values and Principles of Public Service) enshrined in The Constitution of Kenya. A specific link to the mentioned section in the constitution is also provided below.
When it comes to corruption in Kenya; if we go by the current trend, then it’s currently increasing. The government has done little to curb it, and with senior members of the ruling coalition being implicated in these corruption scandals; the Kenyan people have no one to look up to for help. The main opposition party which is supposed to serve as the peoples’ watchdog is in shambles! There are disagreements among its top leaders over who should run against the current head of state in the next general election. All sides of the divide seem to be focused on either maintaining or achieving power; none is actually really focused on serving the people! The government is looting the country dry and the opposition instead of focusing on its main mandate of being a watchdog is busy plotting for the future ignoring the present!
The most recent survey carried out by AFRO BAROMETER and TRANSPARENCY INTERNATIONAL (People & Corruption: Africa Survey 2015) shows that majority of Kenyans agree that corruption is on the rise. To be more precise, these are the results
- 70% say corruption is on the rise in the country.
- 37% public service users have been forced to pay a bribe.
- 28% of the previous 37% are poor people.
- 28% of bribes paid to public service were to police or court officials.
But before we jump to conclusions and begin to judge the poor for feeding the corrupt system that oppresses them; we need to ask ourselves how often the rich in Kenya seek public services. They have lawyers that know the judge as well as the law so they don’t even have to show up a day in court! Justice seems only to come at the right price, injustice is free. Most of the services the poor are bribing for should be free of charge, but the officials in charge of providing the services are withholding them at ransom! The government knows and it’s not doing a damn thing! It would rather wait until the last-minute so that it can use the same issue to seek re-election! The poor don’t have alternatives or plan B’s; the political system has totally deprived them of that so that they can be controlled!
Currently, the agency tasked with fighting corruption in Kenya; The Ethics & Anti-Corruption Commission has been rendered ineffective once more! This is because it still relies totally on other state organs such as the police and the judiciary to perform its mandate effectively: two of the most corruptible institutions as per the survey. However, it has failed to use its powers to recruit members of the public with reliable information in helping it acquire evidence. Most of the corruption scandals headlining the country right now were revealed by the social media and whistle blowers. Some of whom claimed to have provided the commission with sufficient evidence to act and take hold of the situation before hand but the commission failed to act! If the allegations are true, then the commission is compromised and it’s time for a complete overhaul.
The only positive thing coming out of this crisis is the rise of the Social Media which seems to have taken up the opposition’s role of acting as the people’s watch dog. However, even that is under threat by the state. Lately the government using law enforcement has been on a mission to intimidate owners of various social media accounts. Incidences of bloggers, journalists & writers being arrested and detained without any charge; for long duration of time are on the rise. In some cases the devices which they use are confiscated and never returned!
“Social media is the ultimate equalizer. It gives a voice and a platform to anyone willing to engage” – Amy Jo Martin. As such, the efforts of the state to control or influence this platform should be resisted in the strongest possible terms. Under no circumstances must the government or any other institution limit the right of a person to freely express themselves. Freedom of expression is clearly stated and enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and should remain protected at all costs.