“WHO WILL REMOVE THE STONE FOR US?” (MK. 16:3)
We members of the Kenya Conference of Catholic Bishops (KCCB) meeting at Clergy House, Ruaraka Nairobi, convey our Easter greetings to all Kenyans. For us Catholics, Easter is a time of hope, a time of spiritual transformation, a time of renewal and beginning again, for Jesus Christ our Lord, has triumphed over the forces of sin and death through His resurrection. Our faith in the risen Lord urges us to be heralds of joy and sharers of hope with all, especially those overburdened by the demands of life and situations that make them live in desperation and anguish.
Dear Kenyans, having reflected together on the state of our Nation, we wish to address ourselves to some of the pertinent concerns facing us.
Dear Kenyans we note with concern the despair that is setting in our Country because of our inability to find lasting solutions to our political, social and economic challenges. We have allowed the dragon of corruption to pull us down to the point where we have accepted it to be our way of life. We are also caught up in perennial endless political bickering, maneuvers and utterances that slow our Country from moving forward in a fresh direction that will bring meaningful development and national integration to Country. Unfortunately, we are stuck with the same type of politics and politicians, which we know from experience will not deliver to us the Kenya we want. What we are seeing is a game of musical chairs sat on by the same recycled players who lack the vision to inspire Kenyans for a better future.
On the other side, it is very painful to see millions of people languishing in poverty. It is sad and very embarrassing that, at this moment in time, Kenyans in many parts of the country have no food to eat and have to depend on handouts and relief, yet billions of shillings allocated for emergencies are stolen.
ON THE YOUTH
We are also confronted with a worrying trend where a number of our people, especially the youth, are taking their own lives while others have been murdered in bizarre circumstances never heard of before. The number of these cases highlighted these days by the media is food for thought for peace loving Kenyans. Something has gone wrong in the society and we must face the reality of the desperation setting in. Our young people are increasingly descending into depression out of frustration in their lives, either from lack of gainful employment or poor guidance from their families, close friends and community.
Young people are looking for role models in society, men and women of integrity worth emulating. What sort of role models are we?
It is obvious that a society where the young people see no hope and no future is doomed, and sooner or later will descend into chaos, instability and civil unrest. Unless we all come back to our senses and seek the right way, the peace and stability we so far experienced will be a thing of the past.
EROSION OF VALUES
Reading the signs of the time, confronted with ills that have befallen the Kenyan Society; murder, corruption, plundering of our resources, the political bickering we see every day, it is clear that we are becoming a society fueled by greed and love for money. We seem to be losing the capacity to cherish and uphold those values that give dignity, solidarity and oneness, sharing of the resources we have and working for the promotion of the common good that makes us a nation. Instead we are caught up in the web of corruption that is killing our Country.
ACTION AGAINST CORRUPTION
The situation of corruption in our nation has reached national disaster levels. Indeed, it is evident today that the extent of corruption is the most prevalent topic discussed in all sectors of our Kenyan society. The concern raised by many people about corruption has reached alarming levels. Kenyans have been treated to reports of corruption and misuse of public resources on a daily basis. The scale and magnitude of the allegations of corruption and corrupt deals reported in the media has reached high proportions and this is surely threatening the fabric of the Kenyan society. As bishops, in all our past press releases, we have consistently addressed this cancer as an intrinsic evil. However, apparently, corruption and corrupt people have become immune to all measures and continue to slide the country into a bottomless abyss of hopelessness, poverty and despair. Efforts to fight it don’t seem to bear any fruit. And as usual, politics seems to be hijacking the discussions, finding its way into any meaningful attempt to address the evil.
We have categorically condemned corrupt practices in our systems of governance and encouraged our leaders to take stern actions against those engaged in embezzling of public funds. But this has not yielded much, and seems to have stalled.
We, as Catholic Bishops, propose to take the following actions in order to tackle this menace of corruption and begin a new assault on this evil that has bedeviled all efforts.
- We as Catholic Church in Kenya, the Kenya Conference of Catholic Bishops, the individual bishops, priests, religious, and laity in our dioceses, parishes, up to the Small Christian Communities, pledge to fight corruption by all means, by rejecting all forms of corrupt practices. We all know that corruption is a grave sin and, therefore, any act of corruption closes the door for us to enter the Kingdom of God; a kingdom of love, joy, justice and peace. We hereby ask our Catholic faithful and all people of good will, at their levels to be agents of fighting against corruption and promote a new spirit of honesty and integrity as enshrined in our constitution.
- We need to re-awaken our consciences, and listen to that voice within us which tells us that corruption is evil and abominable. We need to form our consciences about the evils in society. Evil actions arise from evil intentions, (Mk.7:21). Many Kenyans seem to have lost their moral conscience for doing good. As Kenyans, why is it so difficult to resolve not to engage in bribes, either receiving or giving bribes? What stops us from facing ourselves in the mirror and removing the speck in our own eyes? The war on corruption has to be won by each citizen, indeed each person: you and me!
- We invite our faithful and people of good will to externally commit by freely and sincerely appending their signatures where and when needed, to fighting corruption and corrupt practices.
OTHER FORMS OF CORRUPTION
We also want to highlight that corruption is not just financial. Our accountability and transparency on how we use time; power vested in our offices; the kind of people we give priority to; and the kind of inequalities we generate by our own actions may amount to corruption. Let us remind ourselves, and all Kenyans, that corruption hurts and more so the most vulnerable amongst us. It is a duty of each one of us to fight corruption.
One major driver of corruption is the culture of greed, that has made our Country a gambling nation. The other is impunity at the expense of truth. We have noted that a culture of interest groups defending “one of our own” is growing. While we understand that interest groups have closer relationships, and have a right to defend their members, we are concerned that groups such as:
- Ethnic communities fighting for one of their own even when one is on the wrong side of the law.
- Political ganging, including legislators when advocating for their interests, including nepotism and despotism.
- ‘Boda bodas’ and transport groups who gang up to harass motorists, even when one of their own is at fault.
- We have also seen lawyers coming together as have done medical doctors and nurses to defend one of their own in cases that may not require such solidarities.
- Teachers who violently eject their colleagues from classrooms during strikes.
- The violent approach of taking justice in our hands and violently punishing suspects.
We caution that this practice could take a dimension that promotes impunity rather than justice.
CONCERN OF THE GROWING WAGE BILL AND NATIONAL DEBT
Another aspect of corruption is the constant push by those already well paid for salary increment and other pecuniary allowances, while millions of Kenyans are wallowing in poverty. This is seen especially in our lawmakers who are very insensitive to the plights of millions of Kenyans, who cannot make ends meet. It is now clear that some of us and most of our law makers are out of touch with the reality of the desperate situation facing Kenyans.
The huge wage bill that the Kenyan taxpayers support is too much. This unbearable burden is breaking the backs of the poor and the majority who live in the margins of society.
The billions of loans that the Government is borrowing is another huge burden that will be carried by Kenyans for many years in repayment. Kenyans have reason to worry, given our culture of corruption, that a huge chunk of these loans will end up lining the pockets of corrupt officials who are only seeking their own interests. We will be forced to pay these loans for many years to the detriment of the development of this Country.
THE BIG QUESTION TO THE GOVERNMENT
We must however emphasize, that even as we seek ways of fighting corruption, we are putting it to the government to come out clear. Your inaction is breeding anger among the people. With your state machinery you know who is corrupt. If figures of alleged stolen money are correct and information true, as given by the Auditor General and reported in the media, what is the government doing? Why are culprits not being prosecuted and jailed? Where is the DPP? Where is the DCI? Where is the EACC? Why are these agencies not able to process water tight cases expeditiously and have them prosecuted? Are they incompetent or have they been compromised; or is the problem with the judiciary? As Kenyans we are extremely concerned, and we demand action now!
As we conclude, dear Kenyans, we must not give up in the face of rampant corruption. We must not resign ourselves to this monster. There is hope if all of us decide to put our efforts together. We can create a corrupt free Country. The only way we can deal with it, is to turn our backs against corrupt practices and walk towards the path of integrity and justice. This fight begins with each one of us, individually and collectively. We conclude with the prophetic words of Amos, “Seek good and not evil that you may live, hate evil and love good, and let justice prevail at the gate,” (Amos 5:14-15). God bless you all, God bless Kenya.
The satement was signed by KCCB Chairman who is the Archbishop of Kisumu and Apostolic Administrator of Homa Bay Most Rev. Philip Anyolo on Friday 10th May 2019 and all the Bishops.