Today the world marks the World Whistle Blower Day for 2021. A day set aside globally to recognize and celebrate whistleblowers for their crucial role in society. I was able to tune in to Citizen Radio in the morning and listen to Alex Ogutu speaking about the plight of whistleblowers in the country, and I got quite enlightened. Alex is the Program Coordinator over at Mzalendo Trust.
Who is a whistleblower?
“A person, usually an employee, who exposes information or activity within a private, public, or government organization that is deemed illegal, illicit, unsafe, or a waste, fraud, or abuse of taxpayer funds” Source.
Whistle blowers are outstanding citizen and with the blatant corruption that goes on in this country, they deserve all the recognition and accolades for being brave enough to raise their voices about it. Most of all, they deserve to be protected at all costs.
In Kenya for example, we would probably never have heard of Goldenberg were it not for David Munyakei blowing the lid on the scandal that spirited away almost a third of the country’s GDP.
Were it not for John Githongo, the Anglo leasing scandal would probably still be under wraps, or it would not have come out in great detail like it did.
More recently, were it not for Spencer Sankale, the culprits of the Maasai Mara University Heist would still be lining their pockets and getting bolder at it.
These three are clear examples on the great impact that whistle blowing has on fighting corruption. But it does not mean they are the only ones, or that only mega corruption cases need to be told on. If we are going to slay the corruption dragon, every small contribution is important and should be reported to the relevant players.
Unfortunately, even after doing a stellar job, whistleblowers are often crucified on a personal level because we do not have laws or policies towards their protection. David Munyakei for example died a destitute man after being fired from his job at the Central Bank. John Githongo lives in exile, and Spencer Sankale was recently let go by the university. It is a good thing that netizens have picked up on his case and even organized a petition to have him reinstated.
Using these cases as an example, we can see why people are afraid to report corruption cases both in public and private sector. But whistleblowers are not altogether on their own. Civil society organizations like Mzalendo Watch, Transparency International and SADES-K are working tirelessly to push for the protection of these gallant citizens.
Who can you report corruption cases to?
One can report to the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions, or the Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission. Alternatively, and especially if one is afraid of reporting to Government offices, they can approach civil society offices like Mzalendo Watch and Transparency International where one can feel safer.
Corruption is a dragon that we all need to take part in fighting and pushing for the protection of whistleblowers is a good place to start.