Public funds drives are an avenue through which resources have, over the years, been mobilised for development projects around the country.
Since independence, the harambee spirit has been harnessed to build schools, churches, and health centres and develop other social facilities for community use.
In this way, the government’s efforts are greatly complemented and the people involved in contributing to their own development.
But this powerful tool for development often gets hijacked for political and even individual gain.
Hence, its high potential for abuse prompted the need for controls to stem the use of fundraising by public officers for ulterior motives, including smoothing their way into political office.
Public resources are, thus, diverted into a cause other than for which they are intended. As a result, the people are denied the full benefit of public funds.
Quite disappointing is the blatant contravention of the law that prohibits the use of public office or place of work as a venue for soliciting or collecting harambees.
But, of late, there has been increased involvement by public officers in funds drives presided over by politicians, obviously to promote their interests.
It’s against this backdrop that one can understand why National Assembly Minority Leader John Mbadi, the ODM chairman, is seeking to have the law require public officers who contribute more than Sh100,000 to harambees or any other kind of fundraising to file a return with the Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission.
He wants Section 13 of the Public Officer Ethics Act so amended.
But while this is a good idea, merely passing laws is not the best way to fight the graft associated with harambees.
It is crucial to enforce the law and encourage compliance. During retired President Mwai Kibaki’s tenure, harambees, especially by government officials, were frowned upon and discouraged.
Rein in public officers who selfishly engage in funds drives.