Women as Remedy

In a recent article in the Kenyan newspaper The Daily Nation, David Ndii compares corruption to cancer. Having been intrigued by the book title "The Emperor of all Maladies: A Biography of Cancer" (by Siddhartha Mukherjee) he draws the parallel to corruption:

"The cancer metaphor is often applied to corruption. It is surely the emperor of all our national maladies. The metaphorical parallel goes beyond that. Cancer treatment is as traumatic as the disease itself. And so it is with corruption. Cancer fights back. And so does corruption."

According to Ndii, distributed corruption is better than when it's concentrated at the top. He also thinks that, similar to cancer, corruption will always be part of the human society.

"Fifth, we cannot eradicate corruption — it is human nature — but we can clean up Augean stables."
"Love it or hate it, the bribery epidemic is evidence that the Kenyan Parliament has come of age. There are two good things about this. First, the nature of political competition makes corruption in Parliament more difficult to cover up than corruption in the Executive. And second, we can vote out corrupt MPs if we chose to. We can’t fire bureaucrats."

Ndii means that the current president is at a crossroads. Although not tainted himself (yet) by corruption, he still hasn't put that much effort into "cleaning up the swamp".

"We have chosen to reserve our highest honours to plunderers. We invite them to launder their reputations in our churches, mosques and temples. In Karen and Muthaiga, they welcome their sudden arrival and grotesque nouveau riche mansions because they bring with them government security, and of course the proximity improves the chance of cornering some more government business."

Kenya is considered a democracy where in the latest presidential election in 2013Uhuru Kenyatta was declared the president, although his major opponent Raila Odinga contested this, but lost. President Kenyatta very recently suspended four ministers and twelve other high-ranking officers, based on suspicion of corruption.

According to Wikipedia, the average urban Kenyan pays 16 bribes per month. A Google search on "Kenya corruption" provides you with about 34,500,000 hits. That's a lot of swamp. However, put in "Sweden corruption" and you'll get about 28,600,000 hits. This could, of course, be the effect of Sweden being considered as one of the least corrupt countries, but you never know... However, according to the Transparency International corruption perceptions index in 2014,  Sweden holds the fourth position whereas Kenya ranks as number 145 out of 175 countries.

So what's the cure for corruption? How can a country become healthy? A central motive behind the creation of The Quality of Government Institute at the University of Gothenburg was a suspicion (or hypothesis) that in all societies, the quality of government institutions is of the outmost importance for the well-being of its citizens. It brings together expertise from many fields, including political philosophy, media and opinion studies, public policy, political economy, public administration and public law. So far, they have published several reports and also made a large dataset available to the public.

According to the researchers at the institute, democracy is not enough to make sure the people living in the country are healthy. Four factors seem to be utterly important: that the tax system really funds the public good in a transparent way, that employment is based on meritocracy, that the educational system is fair and for free, and finally, gender equality in the political system.

"Although Kenya is considered a democracy with a vibrant civil society, which holds periodic and predictable, at times, controversial elections, Kenya’s performance on women’s representation has been dismal, compared with her East African neighbors. Women make only 10 percent of Kenya’s parliament, compared with Rwanda’s 56 %, Tanzania’s 36%, Uganda’s 35%, and Burundi’s 30%. Indeed, Kenya’s record falls 10 percentile points below the EAC’s regional average of 20% women representation in parliament." Akoko Akech, The Society for International Development

You obviously need to do more than just surgically remove the cancer tumors, you need to change your lifestyle. Or perhaps have a sex-change operation?

From Nairobi March 2015

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