Religious leaders in Siaya County have been challenged to take the lead in fighting against corruption in the region.
Speaking during anti- corruption sensitization workshop for faith based organizations in the area, Ethics and Corruption Commission Regional Manager Ignatius Wekesa said the church has a duty to shape ethical and moral values in the society.
Wekesa said that most corruption cases in the country are as a result of poor moral and ethical values, a trend that can only be changed with the involvement of faith based organization.
“The EACC has realized that it is the religious groups that interact with the public regularly and can shape their values. Their involvement in the fight against corruption is Key as they are in a better position to educate the masses,” he said.
The regional manager who was flanked by EACC education Officer Daniel Oirere stated that the religious institutions and their leaders should be role models in the society and not cleanse individuals suspected to be involved in corruption.
“When religious leaders accept donations and offerings from people who are suspected to be corrupt then they are simply glorifying corruption. They cleanse these individuals by inviting them to fundraisers where they give huge donations whose sources cannot be explained,” Wekesa stated.
Therefore, he urged all religious leaders to conduct a thorough background check on individuals and politicians they invited for harambees in their churches to vet out corrupt individuals, who run to donate funds to churches after squandering public funds.
“They come to churches looking holier than thou and giving huge donations so that they can be cleansed by the church,” he added.
The regional manager on the other hand called for a change in law that would bar state and public officers from going back to their offices once they have been charged with corruption.
“As it is now, the law hampers the fight against corruption and allows those accused and charged to remain in office. They should actually be legally forced out to pave way for investigations and only allowed back if cleared,” Wekesa said.
Human rights activists Salim Odeny who graced the occasion urged the religious leaders to embrace the idea of “social courts”.
Odeny said that the war against corruption can only be won if religious leaders come out strongly to talk about corrupt leaders and not allow them in their gatherings.
He said some of current crop of religious leaders in the county, lack the conviction to talk about ills afflicting the society like corruption.
“Such workshops can only have impact if we have brave religious leaders. But with a change of mind, the religious leaders have the biggest influence on how the society behaves,” Odeny said.
Nomiya Church Bishop Eliaza Onyando who spoke on behalf of the religious leaders said corruption is significantly high in county government offices and even churches.
Onyando said employment opportunities in the county are based on nepotism and corruption.
He said that as religious leaders, they have not done enough in the fight against corruption because they have allowed corrupt politician to take over church leadership in exchange for money.
By Brian Odeng’