In Summary
  • At the rate we are going, anything up to 12 countries could collapse under the weight of corruption in the next 10 years.
  • The forces that will emerge to correct things could be populist and authoritarian.

  • They could believe, like Jerry Rawlings’ Ghana in the 1980s, that the only way to deal with the corrupt is to purge them and tie a few to barrels and kill them by firing squad.

  • We know how that looks like. We don’t want to go there.

Corruption levels in Kenya have become so bad, and politicians on the hog seem to have run amok, the country seems to so desperate, many people are willing to try anything to deal with the crisis.

MOST DANGEROUS

At least that is the impression one gets from politician and former National Authority for the Campaign against Alcohol and Drug Abuse (Nacada) board chairman John Mututho, who, the Daily Nation reported, “urged the government to hire deaf graduates in the procurement departments. He said with more such people in the critical department, the country will tackle runaway corruption since they are difficult to compromise”.

Of course, he is wrong. Corruption is not down to hearing someone offering you a bribe or a share in a crooked deal. In Kenya, like other places where graft has become entrenched, it is structural.

In fact, if you are hearing-impaired, the last thing you want to do is be a procurement officer. In our environment, less-abled people are often at a disadvantage because institutions that offer protection are simply not equipped to manage their cases. Imagine showing up at a police station and using sign language to tell the desk officer that some thugs sent by a corrupt ‘tenderpreneur’ are after you.

Procurement is one of the most lucrative jobs in Kenya. But it is also the most dangerous. Depending on where you work, as a procurement officer you could be more at risk than a Kenya Defence Forces soldier in Amisom guarding a position in Kismayo against Al Shabaab.

One of the most precious procurement departments in Nairobi is at a multilateral agency that shall remain unnamed as they spoke off the record about their crisis.

A while back after an interview with the head, in the unrecorded part of our conversation, he told me they had just flown the last Kenyan procurement head and his family out of the country, into the equivalent of a witness protection programme.

BAREFOOT PEASANT

In about 10 years, four procurement officers had either been savagely attacked or killed. It had decided to no longer employ Kenyans, for their safety, to head the role. And the foreign procurement head had more protection than the organisation’s chief!

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