A recent article by the Daily Nation highlighted a shortage in entrepreneurs bidding for tenders advertised at Kenya Medical Supplies Agency (Kemsa). On the other hand, some entrepreneurs are demanding upfront cash payment to do business with the agency pointing to the growing lack of trust, with Kemsa and other state agencies, that is rooted in corruption. It appears that entrepreneurs are wary about getting involved with an organization that attracts the attention of investigative agencies. Rightfully so, given that Kemsa is still under investigation concerning the Sh 7.8 billion scandal.
This revelation, however, does not come as a surprise. In a 2020 report by World Economic Forum, graft was pin-pointed as an impediment to foreigners doing business in the country. The result is that Kenya has missed out on key foreign investments that would elevate the country’s economic competitiveness in the region. There has been prior acknowledgement of demands for kickbacks that have driven the cost of business through the roof, making it unsustainable for the investors. That coupled with inefficient government bureaucracy and poor roads, again largely occasioned by corruption, have driven big foreign investors away, dragging the country’s development agenda.
These circumstances we find ourselves in are not accidental. Those keen on fulfilling their self-interests have been intent on digging the country into a deeper hole at whatever cost. For the corrupt, there are no ethics or morals. It doesn’t matter if doctors operate without protective equipment during the worst pandemic in recent times provided, they’ve pocketed their billions and are guaranteed of first-class treatment in facilities or countries that most Kenyans can’t afford. It doesn’t matter if millions of Kenyans miss out on the Covid-19 vaccines. It doesn’t matter if HIV patients go for weeks or months without their drugs.
The corrupt have made it such that they have to have their way and oversight authorities have been willing enablers. The Kemsa scandal is a good example. Not one person has been charged in the scandal yet the country is spending a lot of money in the name of investigations by the EACC and Parliamentary committee inquiries. There really hasn’t been proof of the leadership’s commitment to fighting graft that has been openly acknowledged even by the President himself, further eroding public trust. If there’s a legacy that the current government will leave for sure, it’s that of letting corruption thrive in epic proportions.
There’s nothing new under the sun that Kenya hasn’t covered on the matter of corruption. It’s been talked about on prime time shows, been studied and reported on, both locally and internationally. It’s evident that there is no political goodwill to deal with this vice conclusively. We’re currently watching as corruption eats away at the country. History will judge this current regime harshly for its reluctance to slay the corruption dragon, for failure to represent their constituents’ interests and conduct oversight where needed and allowing lives to be destroyed and lost in the name of corruption.
Because of corruption, Kenya not only loses huge sums of money but life-changing opportunities for its citizenry. There literally isn’t no sector that has not been affected by this. This is, therefore, a call to leaders to remember why they were put in the positions they occupy and do what is right by Kenyans. To fight corruption is to choose to value Kenyans’ lives and leaders ought to prioritize that.