Would you lie to make more money? To fix Kenya we must all change

The solution to our collapsing society is therefore not complicated – it is the basic idea known as patriotism. [Courtesy]

Kenyans were recently treated to a rare and extremely unfortunate television show when a member of parliament publicly accused her colleague of fraudulently claiming fuel surcharges and being part of a parliamentary “mileage cartel”.

The broadcast on Citizen TV was chaotic and had to take an abrupt pause. The fact that two MPs let the cat out of the bag, that some MPs could manipulate the system to extract so much money, would it be wrong for Kenyans to assume that we are living in an ethically broken society?

In fact, a few days prior to the dispute, the Auditor General had asked questions on television about alleged unlawful payments of mileage claims to MPs by the Parliamentary Services Commission (PSC). I saw a similar explosion on a recent trip abroad when a travel agency reported the exploitative behavior of some of our MPs. She explained how some Kenyan leaders keep pouring into the country, going so far as to get fake receipts to ask for refunds.

Such leaders not only manipulate government systems, they actually manipulate all 50 million Kenyans. The fraudulently refunded money comes from the state treasury, which is financed by the taxpayer.

As a first measure to curb this extravagance, I suggest that the Salaries and Remuneration Commission (SRC) reconsider the allowances for government officials. These allowances must be limited to modest amounts, which should be as low as half the current rates.

After all, when traveling, many executives usually stay in three-star hotels or even lower-ranking hotels in order to save as much money as possible.

The able Madam Nancy Gathungu, the Auditor General, has her team’s job because her office is there to promote accountability in the management of public funds. You need to do meticulous research to identify and challenge the leaders who are abusing the system to reap where they haven’t sown. I suggest the hashtag #OperationJazaJela!

But before we throw a stone at our political leaders, we need to recognize that we Kenyans are their enablers. They just reflect us. For example, in Kenya today there are farmers who never eat what they grow because they know the harmful nature of the chemicals they use on these vegetables but are happy to sell them to other Kenyans. Last year Kenyatta University conducted a study that showed how some tomato growers overuse certain pesticides, thereby endangering the health of Kenyans.

Remember that the Latin proverb “Vox Populi, Vox Dei” means “the voice of the people is the voice of God”. This saying reminds us that we as a people have immense potential to do good in our society. We, the people, are the real leaders. We lead the leaders. The reason many leaders do not exercise servant leadership is because we have given up our role as their masters. In fact, politics is too important to be left to the politicians alone. We, the people, have to determine the tone, content and composition of our policies.

The solution to our collapsing society is therefore not complicated – it is the basic idea known as patriotism. We begin to rebuild a collapsing society by loving our nation and doing to others as we wish.

This is what Mahatma Gandhi meant when he told us to be the change we want to see in society. We can achieve such a changemaker mentality through introspection. Introspection means taking one long, hard look at ourselves. Introspection is the flashlight that we can use to illuminate our intentions; our driving force; our own shortcomings. Introspection will help you change the only person you can really change – yourself.

In fact, the only way Kenyans can fix their broken society is by repairing themselves. This is only possible if you think and act green!

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