The Most Corrupt Institution in Kenya: It Is Not the Police!
President Mwai Kibaki knows that Kenya has a lot of corruption and has spoken against it during all seven going to eight years of his presidency. In fact just about every politician in Kenya will tell you that corruption is prominent. They all talk about it. They accuse each other of the same. The whole story of Miguna Miguna’s book revolves around the idea that the Office of the Prime Minister is corrupt! Just about every Kenyan believes that our government and institutions have some corruption. This supposition, however, does not tell the whole story. The Republic is not a corrupt country; however, corruption is to many a way of life. I mean, who doesn’t know and agree with that statement? I decided to check for myself. What I found is shocking. It is a state that cannot be cleansed by one book from a man who worked hand in hand with those he accuses as corrupt. Remember Githongo? He was trying to clean the house while at the same time writing graffiti on the wall! This however does not mean that Miguna’s theories are false, . . . because as I said, corruption is an expected way of life in Kenya!
Let us first define corruption. From a philosophical and logical perspective, corruption comes from the word corrupt, and corrupt within our consideration basically means bribery. Bribery does not just mean demanding chai to serve a citizen who has the right to be served by you without anything more than the prescribed fee or obligation. Bribery is also interfering with the written law and requirements, against the principle duty for which the law is established.
I write this from a diaspora perspective, having been stopped several times by American state troopers and having tried to explain why I was speeding, only to be told, “Sir, I understand your point, but I’m just doing my job,” and getting an expensive ticket. That is Duty! Also, I have dealt with Kenyan institutions for the last several years, spoken to officials, and lay people involved with these institutions.
Given my investigation and analysis, I offer the Department of the Registrar General as an example of the above definition of corruption as it is manifested in Kenya. The office functions under the supervision of the Attorney General. It is headed by the Registrar General. It has several departments: Registrar of Companies, Registrar of Societies, Registrar of Marriages and adoptions. It is also the Public Trustee among other functions. This affects every part of Kenyan life!
This governmental department is responsible for all companies, societies, and organizations doing business in Kenya. It has very specific laws that govern it and has historically established rules and regulations that are part of the wider spectrum of the parliamentary laws passed before and after independence. Every Kenyan who has a company is required by law to register under the Companies Acts. Churches and all societies, as well as both profit and non-profit organizations conduct their affairs in Kenya under the authority of the Department of Registrar of Societies, Marriages, Adoptions, all are registered here. Also the registrar is the Public Trustee. Though the Registrar General is truly Christian: A woman with understanding of the Bible who seeks to live by its precepts, she is absolutely toothless in enforcing the laws. Her passive nature has allowed the majority of her staff to be absolutely corrupt. For example, many society members unhappy with their required constitutions are able to pay money on the side to some junior officer and have parts of their constitutions altered, articles in them replaced. Church leaders are able to pay money on the side and have their ordained ministers removed as officers. Company directors can be changed in a whim by paying the officers. Many organizations and societies registered in Kenya are in absolute violation of the societies acts.
The worst thing about this state of bribery and thievery is that nothing is done and the Registrar General herself attests to the nightmare and confirms her inability to run the department as an honest institution. “The problem I have is that many of those people violating the laws and corrupting my officers are the same people who have power over me, or are men of the cloth who one would expect to be honest! I make decisions to make sure that officers in my departments follow laws. But at night, some politician, businessman, or Bishop calls the officer and tells the officer not to worry and that they will cover them through their powerful political affiliations”. Apparently they do. They call the higher- ups and instruct them that they need to let things pass. Given that the office has many companies, marriages, societies (churches included), organizations, before the issue comes back to the Registrar’s office, pastors have been removed, companies directors and stipulations changed, constitutions revised, all without following any of the established laws whatsoever. It is this corruption that scares foreign investors in Kenya. It therefore stands out in my estimation as the most corrupt institution In Kenya. It not only hinders development in ensuring a clear and honest advancement in the private sector and industrial growth, It also encourages corruption in institutions which are there to serve the public. The name of the department should be changed to read, “Department of Registrar of Corruption.”