We hardly can discuss problems facing Africa without first talking about endemic and tenacious corruption. Sadly, the level of corruption in Africa has become so mountainous and yet common, that sometimes, many Africans hardly lose a night’s sleep over the cankerworm, which has effectively destroyed the continent and created increasingly a precarious future for young Africans. But accepting the infectious corruption as a way of life in Africa is hardly the best way to kill the giant monster sucking the continent dead. Therefore, the recent attempt by the Kenyan government to force top officials working for Kenya’s government to undergo a lie detector test as part of a corruption crackdown is a welcome approach towards eradicating corruption in the country.
According to the President of Kenya Mr. Uhuru Kenyatta, who was speaking following the alleged missing of 8bn Kenyan shillings (£59m; $78m) from a government agency, the mandatory test would determine employee’s “integrity.” The test, according to the President, is one part of the government’s planned measures to deal with the corruption menace. Definitely, the latest scandal is a huge blow to the President Kenyatta’s reputation. The president had pledged to eradicate corruption when he was first elected in 2013. Unfortunately, many Kenyans are not convinced the President has kept to his words. While some groups believe President Uhuru Kenyatta is surrounded by corrupt individuals, as such, his hands are tied. Others argue that corruption in Kenya – and for that matter, Africa – is so terribly gigantic, that many individuals are effectively entangled inside the corruption web. With their personal interests deeply rooted into and inseparable from the State funds, it has become increasingly difficult to clearly draw a line between individual interests and those of the general public. Due to this entanglement of interests, it has become too complicated, and indeed, a challenging task to fight corruption, many argue. Worse still, the corrupt officials are more or less into a club with a common interest, so they know the secrets of each other, which they try not to disclose to avoid exposing themselves as well. The vicious circle continues and the status quo is maintained.
President Kenyatta pleaded to eradicate corruption in Kenya “before it fully destroys us and the future of our children.”
“As an initial step, all heads of procurement and accounts in government ministries, departments [and] agencies… will undergo fresh vetting, including polygraph testing to determine their integrity and suitability. Those who fail the vetting will stand suspended.” President Kenyatta assured.
But not everyone is convinced. President Kenyatta’s suggestion has triggered debates amongst Kenyans on the President’s seriousness in tackling corruption. While some Kenyans have welcomed the introduction of a lie detector as a way forward, others pointed out that the test does not mean persecution and conviction of corrupt officials who had already stolen billions from the State. Yet others, wonder why the polygraph is meant only for heads of procurement and accounts in government ministries, departments [and] agencies; they argue that the test must be extended to everyone applying for a job, as well as those already holding a job. But that is not all. Some opponents of the detector test have even argued that the machine cannot be trusted; apart from malfunction problems, the result of the test is subject to misinterpretation and manipulation. Yet others jokingly argue that even the lie detector tester can be compromised by corrupt individuals. The latter group, therefore, argues that the government should rather encourage and support the anti-corruption agency to fearlessly investigate and persecute corrupt officials without government intervention, intimidation or influence.
Although the polygraph testing has its shortcomings, it is better than nothing; the President must be encouraged to carry out its plans. More than that, corruption is corruption, therefore, all those who had stolen public fund and have made the lives of their fellow Kenyans miserable must equally be brought to justice – no matter how long ago the theft took place. This way, an average Kenyan will be convinced that their cry for justice is finally being heard.