“Strive for peace with everyone…,” Hebrew 12:14
We, the Kenya Conference of Catholic Bishops, meeting at Clergy House in Ruaraka during our Extraordinary Meeting thank Kenyans for their prayers and all kinds of support they have offered to us and other institutions to ensure the post 2017 election tensions experienced earlier this year are now considerably de-escalated. We note with gratitude the way Kenyans who, before the 9th March handshake, were up against each other but now engage in conversations and daily business with ease.
We, the Catholic Bishops, during our Extraordinary Plenary at the Clergy House of the Archdiocese of Nairobi, having taken stock of the current situation in the Country hereby address ourselves to all Kenyans, men and women of good will and all those who care for the welfare of this beloved Country.
ENCOURAGING SIGNS IN THE WAR AGAINST CORRUPTION
We note with appreciation the resolve by our President Uhuru Kenyatta and other government organs charged with good governance and protection of the resources of our Country to seriously go after all those who are involved in corrupt deals. The ongoing effort to rid this country of corruption is commendable. We encourage the President and all these agencies involved in the war against corruption not to relent in their effort to eradicate corruption once and for all in Kenya. This should be done in a strategic and organized manner so as to address systemic corruption. We ought to fight it at all levels from the ordinary mwananchi, the security agents and to the highest levels of leadership. They should never give in to any attempt to weaken their resolve. They should not spare those found to be engaged in the vice; beginning from those in top position to the lowest in all sectors of the Kenyan society.
We recall that Pope Francis in his last visit to Kenya spoke very strongly against corruption. He urged us to root out this vice and he reminded us of the disastrous effects it has on a nation and her people.
WE MUST WIN THE WAR
We urge the Department of Public Prosecution to widen the net and bring to book all those proven to have stolen and embezzle public funds. The Police on their part should not give in to those who want to thwart justice. We especially challenge them and other security agents to be the first to commit themselves to the rule of law. Those in power should let the law enforcers and the Judiciary do their part for it is only when we respect the rule of law that justice will prevail in our land. We cannot go back on the gains made in this fight against corruption. We cannot afford to lose the war on corruption.
It goes without saying that all the arms of the government should fully commit themselves to the fight against corruption. We are concerned that members of Parliament, who are the legislators, easily allow themselves to be compromised in their role of passing bills. We specifically refer to the allegation that they have been bribed so as to kill the report on the sugar scandal.
Only the truth can save our country. Kenyans would like to know the truth regarding this scandal for the lives of millions of Kenyans are at stake. It is a grave matter, if the very people elected to represent the people of Kenya and protect their interest, are corrupt and are open to bribery. Then for sure, for their own personal gains, they have sold the rights of the Kenyans who elected them. We demand a thorough investigation into this bribery claims. Those found to have accepted the bribe ought to resign and be prosecuted.
CULTURE OF NEPOTISM
Another vice that is rearing its ugly head in this Country is nepotism. Nepotism undermines the principle of common good and the equal opportunities that all Kenyans should be enjoying. This is clearly seen when leaders and those in power appoint their own relatives, wives, sons and daughters to position of leadership and reserve job opportunities for their own. The ordinary Kenyan who has no “tall” relative is denied the opportunity to positions and jobs that are open to all deserving citizens of this country in accordance with merit. This practice of nepotism is taking root in our country. It is wrong and we condemn it with the strongest terms.
We need a radical change in the way jobs are distributed in this country. It is now a practice that bribery is expected if one is to get a job, especially in the public sector. Job recruitment has to be done in an open and transparent manner that offers job opportunities to all. It is only when we adhere to those basic principles that are value based will we overcome such tendencies in our Country. We have to seek and practice those values that promote the common good and the well-being of all Kenyans; values such as truth, equity, integrity, hard work, loyalty, honesty, sincerity, etc.
VICTIMS OF IMPUNITY
While we appreciate the need to protect our environment and riparian land next to rivers, we have to ensure that those being evicted and those whose buildings are being demolished are not victims of corrupt individuals who acquired land illegally and sold the same land to unsuspecting victims. The whole saga we are witnessing of people being evicted from Mau Forest has to be looked into to ensure that they are not victims of impunity by government officials and promises made by politicians soliciting for votes. These Kenyans who acquired land in Mau Forest need to be listened to and handled in a humane way such that their dignity is not trampled upon. Those who are found to be landless should be offered settlement elsewhere.
There have been calls for teachers to down their tools come September 2018. While we appreciate the teachers’ concerns, we should not, for whatever reasons interrupt learning in schools, especially the writing of the National examinations. The interest of children is paramount and should not be jeopardized.
We also note the resurge of burning of school dormitories and general indiscipline by the students. This is a symptom of an educational system that is defective. This calls for reforms in Education sector.
We call for a serious and real involvement of all stake holders in matters education. Without mutual consultation by the Ministry of Education, the implementation of education policies will be skewed. Similarly some urgent concerns will be overlooked as it has happened with the so-called de-localization of teachers. We appreciate the President’s directive that the “the implementation of the delocalization program to be reviewed to ensure that families of teachers do not suffer undue disruptions.”
The involvement of the Catholic Church in education has been firm and constant throughout the history of our Country and it is only right that we should be seen as partners by the Ministry of Education. We therefore have the right to be consulted when it comes to matters affecting us.
THREAT FROM TERRORISM
The frequent terrorists` attacks in some parts of the northern part of our Country and threats they pose even in some of our missions is very worrying. We call for concerted effort by all to combat terrorism. It is also important that any information regarding terrorism should be shared with all concerned in order to enhance vigilance.
A CALL TO ACTIVE PARTICIPATION IN SHAPING THE REBIRTH OF NEW KENYA
We recognize the Building Bridges Initiatives (BBI) by President Uhuru Kenyatta and Rt. Hon Raila Odinga. We therefore call upon all Kenyans of all walks of life, to take in interest and demand that the process be all inclusive and participatory.
We take this opportunity to invite all Kenyans to take part in the planned National Dialogue Conference organized by Religious leaders, scheduled to take place on 11th to 13th September 2018, at the Bomas of Kenya. This forum, is resolved to ensure the redress of past and recurring issues especially around elections.
We, as your shepherds, have always cared for the welfare of this country and have cherished a Country where we all are looking for the common good. Similarly, we pray for a Country where the right and the dignity of every Kenyan is respected. Let us all challenge each other to offer the best of what this country needs: good leadership, good governance, respect for law and more than anything else a room for God so that our land will be blessed and protected by the Almighty. We must protect our Country from anything that threatens the prosperity and wellbeing of all Kenyans.
GOD BLESS KENYA
Signed by Rt. Rev. Philip Anyolo
KENYA CONFERENCE OF CATHOLIC BISHOPS
17th August 2018