Despite an adequate anti-corruption framework, Kenya’s ranking on Transparency International’s Corruption Perceptions Index has remained poor. Successive leaders have used co-optation, control and oppression to maintain power, while tribalism plays a major role in the political, economic and social life of the country. The research looked at how informal governance has shaped the country’s political setting and distribution of power through successive governments up to the present day.
Key points from the research included:
- Cooptation and control was seen throughout Daniel Arap Moi’s government (1978-2002). Loyalty to the party and sycophancy was expected in order to get ahead regardless of which part of government one was in. These acted as a form of control and co-optation at the highest level.
- Between 1974 and 1984, the political elite increasingly turned to corrupt deals as a means to finance electoral campaigns and the patronage mechanisms through which they nourish their support bases and, ultimately, maintain their legitimacy as leaders.
- Elections throughout Moi’s regime were regressive, highly corrupted and contested within the ruling party and by opposition parties. Eventually in 2002, opposing parties ‘coalesced’ to form the National Rainbow Coalition (NARC), and prevent Moi from manipulating the election.
- Mwai Kibaki, Kenya’s next President, introduced a reformist agenda and including performance contracting, institutional charters and strategic plans in the public service. However this was undermined by informal governance practices, driven by a tribalist agenda that fought to co-opt and control the reform. The ethnic group most closely aligned with Kibaki was known as the ‘Mount Kenya Mafia’ and significantly influenced the government and itself was a network based on control and cooptation.
- In 2013 devolved government was introduced, structured into 47 counties and a restructured public service to check the exercise of public authority. Devolution was also thought address tribalism by favouring diversity and the protection of minorities. However, tribalism and the ‘winner takes all’ electoral system has enabled the contestation of power via informal networks that are highly exclusive. Elections exacerbate the need to resort to informal practices of cooptation and control which are utilised to secure favourable election outcomes through several routes.