Event Reports

Haki Na Sheria Dialogue Forum

The Nexus between Development and Corruption. A Perspective from a practicing Parliamentarian.

These regular fora address topical issues affecting Kenya and Africa in general from political, legal, social and economic angles. Hon. Isaac Mwaura, a Member of Parliament from Kenya was the guest speaker at the early breakfast dialogue forum held on 27nd September 2016 that focused on the nexus between development and corruption from a parliamentarian’s perspective. The audience comprised of interested actors from various professional backgrounds in Nairobi, including politicians, journalists, jurists, economists, scholars and members of the public.

Taking all the identified challenges and perspectives of the participants and the political expert into account, corruption was presented as arising from multiple factors: Issues addressed throughout the discussions concerned most of all the connection between tribalism, a lack of a social welfare state, a lack of implementation of laws and the definition of the term "leader" in an African context. Hon. Isaac Mwaura gave an insight on the issue of the nexus of development and corruption by giving examples from his work and daily life as practicing parliamentarian. He highlighted the challenges and disconnection between politicians’ constitutional responsibilities, electorates’ expectations as well their (MP’s) own interests of gaining more votes for re-election.

As far as electorates’ expectations are concerned, a good leader is an individual who is expected to be generous, to be a problem solver and provide for others, e.g. roads, schools, water, security, etc. Therefore, the function that counts on the ground is not necessarily the oversight and representation role but what he/she does in the villages in terms of social welfare support at the grass-root level. He put a great emphasis on the aspect of tribalism that is highly prevalent in the Kenyan society in general and in politics specifically which has a huge influence in shaping the country's current social and political as well as economic situation. Hon. Isaac Mwaura lamented the lack of nationhood among Kenyans who often revert to their tribal cocoons when it comes to electing their political leaders.

Regarding corruption, Hon. Isaac Mwaura highlighted the existence of an informal state and a formal state – and referred to the lack of a social welfare system which inevitably forces those in leadership positions to adopt the role of a social worker to provide for their people and ultimately leads to those in power engaging in corrupt deals to accumulate enough to finance the needs of their people.

In ensuing discussions it was pointed out that the Kenya society could be a victim of its own structure which seems to suggest that attainment of political leadership is an end in itself and is all that matters. It is for this reason that in spite of high number of MPs losing elections in subsequent elections, the prevailing challenges around official corruption, bad governance, and mismanagement of public resources among other vices continue to thrive.

Hence the question, is corruption wrong when it is working for you?

The event ended with the unanimous agreement of participants that there is a need for a proper and formal welfare system that caters for the needs of the people as opposed to leaving this in the hands of the political class. Conversely, politicians were challenged to offer servant leadership and educate the masses on their roles, responsibilities and obligations as way of empowering their communities instead of perpetuating the culture of ‘handouts’ and ‘big man’ syndrome.

Haki Na Sheria Dialogue Forum with guest speaker Hon. Isaac Mwaura, MP (Kenya) KAS