The burden of a Kenya whistle blower

John Githongo has become a whistle blower celebrity with his piecemeal release of recordings of government officials private discussions of the Anglo leasing corruption saga. For his personal safety he has chosen the UK as a safe haven and the Internet has become his latest communication channel.

There has been various emotions regarding the way he has gone about it. One side is happy that he saved Kenyans lots of money and made would be public funds embezzlers cautious or stop altogether. To them he is as patriotic as those who fought for Kenya's independence. The other side is concerned about the ethics of his recordings, his bit by bit distribution of his recordings and his flight to London especially his decision not to release the tapes to the Kenya civil society or church. They have labelled him a British spy.

One can imagine the risks that Githongo has attracted to his life. Will he ever feel safe to return to Kenya even if there is a change of political dispensation. He has wounded many who wouldn't mind revenge. He has to live with this for the rest of his life. What a burden!

Protection of whistle blowers is to be guaranteed in a piece of legislation currently in parliament. However, this will not be enough when there is no political will to protect whistle blowers. Even if the state was to guarantee security, the burden of living with bodyguards all your life is a bother in itself.

David Munyakei, the Goldenberg corruption scam whistle blower did not have it easy. Luckily for him, he never had to run away from Kenya. But he lived a miserable life, jobless and died poor last year despite the many billions he saved Kenya after exposing the corruption scheme in 1992. Kibaki government never thought much of him even on winning the elections on an anti-corruption platform and did nothing substantial to sort out Goldenberg to match the patriotic gesture of David Munyakei. Neither did they do anything significant to improve Munyakei's living standards.

As much as we blame the government for the failure on the anti-corruption war, Kenyans are not ready to shed off the corruption bug. Githongo's albeit questionable way of dealing with graft will not be met with matching commitments by Kenyans to eradicate corruption. They will marvel at his recordings, vow to remove Kibaki's government, criticize his unethical recordings, praise his nationalistic virtues and condemn the lack of patriotism thereof in equal measure.

But how many Kenyans will stop receiving and giving bribes, how many will say no to a kickback to illegally award a contract? How many will reject the portion of NARC-K 5B or ODM-K 2B campaign 2007 election bribes when they do not support the parties?

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