Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Greed as governance problem

Talking to church leaders yesterday, the chairman of the Commission on Revenue Allocation (CRA), Mr. Micah Cheserem observed that greed is a root cause of the governance problems in Kenya. Greed is where people want to get more than they deserve at the expense of others and this including using all means possible. It is self focusing and only seeks to gratify the ME, MYSELF and I. What got me thinking is whether greed is just personal or can it be communal? Where a group of people bound by certain shared characteristics want everything just for themselves? In the case of Kenya can this groups be ethnic, religious, age sets etc?

So Mr. Cheserem challenged the church leaders with a question,'why haven't you helped us get rid of the greed that is threatening to destroy our country?' Was he talking on general observations or is it because of the kind of proposals he has received on how to design the formula of sharing resources between county governments? or was it from his experience at the helm of the central bank where he formerly worked as the governor? Only he can answer this queries. However, he has brought to the policy table a matter of matters:greed. 

Am I greedy? What about you? so if we are both not, then who was he referring to? Maybe the politicians (especially MPs) because they always increase their pay and are not even willing to pay tax. Maybe the rich businessmen who pay their workers peanuts as they make huge profits. Oh yes, it maybe the very people he was addressing, the pastors who are always urging us to give more and more so as to be blessed. I mean, it must be everyone else but me and you.

So before we identify that person out there who is greedy, lets turn do a personal search. Do we pay all our taxes? Do we cheat in exams or interviews? do we undercut our competitors and fellow employees so that we get that promotion? Do we underdeclare our current assets so as to benefit from special programmes meant for the poor? What about ouur expenditures on a work trip - are they all true and necessary? ooh and safaricom has given us unlimited internet access, but is downloading 35GB worth of data still within proper limits? Can we confidently say that all we have was genuinely gained?

The list can be endless of such questions. One thing stands out i.e. our society's character is the sum of our individual character. Its our little pieces of good or bad that makes the country great or awful. So lets not seek the greedy out there, lets purpose to tame our own. 

In Service to God and My Country 
Abraham Rugo Muriu

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