The anti-corruption watchdog has now turned to the clergy to help it in its war and in sensitising Kenyans to elect leaders with integrity in the August 9 General Election.
In a five-hour meeting held yesterday between the Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission (EACC) and the clergy in Nairobi, the former called on the religious leaders to partner with it in promoting integrity in the forthcoming elections.
The consultative forum ended with the religious leaders vowing to collaborate with EACC and to also safeguard places of worship from misuse by politicians who want to sanitise themselves.
They also urged Kenyans to not only vote out all politicians who have corruption cases, but also avoid any candidate who has criminal proceedings going on in court.
Cleared by IEBC
This comes at a time some politicians who have been charged with corruption and criminal cases being cleared by the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) to vie in the elections.
“We are committed and support the EACC and other agencies charged with the responsibility of banishing the demons of corruption from our country and call upon Kenyans to shun, shame and shake the walls of the corrupt. Living a life of integrity is a choice that each one of us has to make,” said Father Joseph Mutie, the chairperson of the Inter-Religious Council of Kenya.
Archbishop Mark Kariuki, the general overseer of the Deliverance Church of Kenya, said it was unfair to claim the Church is hypocritical when it outwardly condemns politicians labelled as corrupt but accepts money from them.
Instead, people should understand that the Church is a place of refuge for all people, sinners included, as such, it was unchristian to close the doors on anyone who goes to worship God,” he said.
Equal opportunity in church
“The Church is not for the pure, but for everybody to come in for help. Everybody is given an equal opportunity to contribute to the Church. When people come in, the prostitutes, politicians, thieves, robbers and murderers are welcome to church because it is there that they shall find change. When you segregate people, you will not minister to the entire community. We regard everybody as equal,” he said.
Sheikh Abdullahi Abdi said he was dismayed by how corruption had permeated the society and had now moved from the top-tier leadership to the common citizens. He admitted that the clergy at some point went silent on the vice.
“As the clergy, we cannot absolve ourselves. When this cancer of corruption metastasised, we were silent … let us change the style of our war against corruption,” he said.
EACC chief executive Twalib Mbarak, defended the Commission after the IEBC pointed an accusing finger at it for issuing clearance certificates to 241 political leaders the anti-corruption watchdog had listed as “tainted” for having integrity shortcomings.
Mr Mbarak wondered how the electoral agency, which has the mandate to clear political aspirants, still cleared leaders who are in clear violation of Chapter Six of the Constitution on leadership and integrity. Some of the candidates for political seats who have pending corruption and murder cases were cleared despite the EACC issuing the electoral commission with a list of the “tainted” leaders.
“In mature democracies, such people cannot even think of vying, but here, one has a corruption case, murder, handed a state corporation and killed it, and people know what they did, but they are still on the ballot. If everything is to go through court, then expect dirty people in power, then you say EACC is not working,” said Mr Mbarak.
He gave an example of former Nairobi governor Mike Sonko, who was on a similar list of 106 of leaders with integrity questions that was issued by EACC in the run up to the 2017 elections. However, he was cleared to run and was elected, only to be impeached later due to integrity issues.
Following constant disappointments due to complicated legal procedures, Mr Mbarak clarified, the EACC resorted to reaching out to the clergy.
“That is why today, we are with the clergy so that they can go and talk to the people and ask them to use their common sense and raise critical questions on the intention of politicians who give them handouts and elect good leaders,” he said.