“The devil of corruption is alive and thriving in Kenya….” Came the famous presidential speech during Madaraka Day celebrations on June 1st, 2022. The President made these utterances to condemn and shame the laxity with which public servants dealt with corruption.
Before this, in October last year, during National Taxpayers’ Day, President Uhuru Kenyatta urged KRA to collaborate with other agencies to ensure that there is no money lost through tax evasion. This was a message heard when KRA Commissioner Gen Githii Mburu announced that KRA staff will now be wearing body cams in a deliberate attempt to curb corruption.
KRA will deploy the bodycams to be used mainly by domestic and customs and border control staff. This could have been prompted by the retrenchment of seventy-five employees due to corruption claims. Sixty-one of these arrests were from the domestic taxes department and fourteen from the customs and border control.
In a press conference on Tuesday, the KRA said that this measure was taken in response to the recent increase in corruption cases. The agency also said that they hoped to use the information gathered from the cameras in future investigations, which will help them track down those involved in corruption. This will reduce the number of cases of corruption within the agency as well as reduce their financial losses due to these cases.
Bodycams Come After KRA Had Put Several Strategies to Curb Tax Evasion to No Vain.
Corruption is the biggest problem in public servants’ offices, and stopping it requires Ubuntu. In 2020, KRA launched a web-based system, iWhistle, an anonymous reporting system of tax offenses via the KRA website. This mode of reporting tax offenses was built on a voluntary reward system, where if you were to report tax fraud, you would be rewarded if the money was to be recovered.
Despite stringent measures, KRA still reported losses, as if perpetrators of corruption found an alternative way to beat the system. Due to tax evasion, KRA estimates that Kenyans lose two billion Kenyan shillings annually.
Corruption has been entrenched in the system of our country, and it has caused enormous damage to our economy and society. It has destroyed the trust between citizens and their government, which is one of the most important foundations of democracy.
Now that KRA staff is set to wear body cams, can Kenyans rest easy that the noose shall tighten around corruption? How can the key perpetrators of national insolence be put behind bars and made responsible? If corruption were to happen, would we be able to watch it with a camera lens? Are body cams the ultimate solution?
How Body Cams Help Curb Corruption
Body cams are small cameras that attach to a person’s clothes or glasses and record everything they see. When a staff wears the body cams, anything he does is recorded; thus, if he takes a bribe, anybody with access to the footage can see him taking it.
Body cams aren’t just for the KRA officers—they can be worn by any member of society who works with the public or is part of a company that deals with the public sector.
The body cam footage will help determine whether the public servants were acting in good faith or were engaging in corrupt activities instead. With this footage, relevant authorities can determine if there was an abuse of power.
The evidence collected from these cameras will be used by courts to decide whether there was any misconduct on behalf of those involved. With these cameras in place, KRA will know exactly what’s happening behind closed doors and how much money is being stolen from them by those who are stealing from them.
Is This the Beginning of the Public Service Revolution?
The United States of America has been using body cams on police helmets to ensure accountability. And we’re not just talking about the police here. Body cameras also make it possible for everyone in the public eye—from politicians to public figures like musicians and actors—to be monitored by the people they interact with, making them more accountable for their words and actions.
In Kenya, Kenya Revenue Authority is the first government agency to use bodycam in crime detection and prevention.
However, a similar discussion was held over Twitter interaction #EngageTheIG, when the Inspector General of Police, Hillary Mutyambai, commented that the deployment of body cams in the police department was a subject to the availability of resources. This would assist bring order and quit chaos amongst tainted traffic cops if it were to come.
The move is part of the government’s efforts to curb corruption, which has become a major concern and challenge in Kenya.
The idea of body cams worn by the Kenya Revenue Authority (KRA) staff to curb corruption is a practical and important move, reflective of our times. How else would the population monitor the anti-graft agency than through surveillance?