I have come to a conclusion that every Kenyan is corrupt, unless proven otherwise. My experience in business has taught me this. Take a look at this.
Whenever a government entity requests for service, someone will call you requesting to ‘talk.’ This is only if they actually need the service, for the many times an office asks you to quote for a certain service, they already have a service provider in mind. All they want is to use to lend credibility to the procurement process. The ‘talk’ is simply instructions on how much you should quote, and how much you will be expected to give back.
Not just in the government. Even from the private sector, the conversation goes like this: “My name is AB and I am the head of IT in company CD. We are looking for somebody to offer us service EF, but I would want us to ‘talk’ first to see if we can work together.”
What is happening here is that employees are working hard to defraud their employers, be it in the private sector or in civil service. Is there a cost to be paid for this?
Hotbed of Corruption
Kenya thrives on corruption. 33% of the budget is wasted through corrupt dealings, even though we are only able fund slightly over 50% of the whole budget. A big portion of the budget is borrowed, then misappropriated. This means that we have devised an art of stealing not only from what we have, but also from what we and our future generations will have. That is how the government runs, even most people who are motivated to serve in public offices are motivated by the same factor.
The main motivation why someone self-funds 75 million campaigning for a political post which will pay him 60 million in five years is the money expected to flow back through corruption and position influence. The main reason why being a headteacher is lucrative is the opportunity to manage the money, and of course gain from the managing. The reason why county and national governments want to run healthcare docket, yet everybody knows for sure that healthcare is a loss making sector, is simply to run the big budget, and from there make some money out of that.
Effects of the Corruption
Starting a business is hard, unless you are willing to give enough kickbacks. Tenders are awarded to the person who will give the largest kickback, and this happens in 99% of all offices. The effect of this is that genuine businesses fail, while tenderpreneurs thrive. This killing of genuine entrepreneurs means that the people who have the capacity to build enterprises and create jobs end up failing, and so job opportunities are not created. The end result is unemployment, now and in future.
Many SMEs have died thorough supplying goods and services to the government. They offer their services, but several years down the line no one is willing to pay for those service. Yet, doing business with the government holds an allure to many new and old businesses alike. The margins are attractive, but payments never come. Of course, payments do come if you are willing to give some kickbacks. Once SMEs are not paid, they end up not paying their staff, who end up not paying their children’s school fees, which leads to schools crumbling. The possible outcomes are many and gross.
There is hope
They say that the early bird catches the worm. In Kenya, it is the known bird which is given the worm. If you are not known, woe unto you. You will strive to make it, and you will have to work harder than any business that is dealing with the government because your margins are small while your operating expenses are the same.
But this resilience is needed while things are still murky, for there will come a day when things will change. As we long for those days, remember that we are the ones expected to create those days.