Tangible outcomes needed in graft war

Wednesday, November 20th, 2019 06:47 |
Mike Sonko
Chaos and teargas as police contain the crowd that had escorted Nairobi Governor Mike Sonko to EACC. PHOTO/DAVID NDOLO PD

The Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission (EACC) yesterday released a survey report, which paints a grim picture. 

Among the disturbing revelations is that Kenyans continue to pay bribes to obtain key services, including security, healthcare and critical documents.

Tendering remains  a cash cow for unscrupulous public officers, who demand approximately Sh88,000 to obtain a tender, while those seeking jobs part with an average of Sh22,000 and a similar amount for those seeking government funding. To have a land dispute resolved, Kenyans part with about Sh6,600.

While the country has witnessed dramatic arrests of powerful officials and bold warnings from President Uhuru Kenyatta, no significant gains have been made in the fight against graft.  No high-profile official has been convicted. 

The country continues to wake up to reports of one corruption scandal after the other, with the latest being the alleged irregular tendering at the Kenya Ports Authority that may have cost taxpayers billions of shillings.  

Investigations and cases touching on major graft matters such as loss of funds at the National Youth Service, the Arror and Kimwarer dam projects in Elgeyo Marakwet and the maize scandal remain unresolved.

This has precipitated a blame game between various State agencies. The Executive has not only accused the Judiciary of being a stumbling block in the war, but also being a citadel of corruption. There are claims justice is sold to the highest bidder. On the other hand, the Executive and Parliament are avenues of dubious tender deals and suspicions that corruption investigations are motivated by extortion.

 It is most unfortunate that officials in agencies mandated to fight the graft such as the police, the office of the Auditor General and courts are themselves involved in the vice. The EACC report ranked the police service among the most corrupt institutions.

While we understand that convictions are made on the basis of evidence and relevant law, more resources are needed to execute this mandate. Claims of deliberate incompetent prosecution of graft cases should be also addressed.

EACC is mandated by law to recover assets acquired through economic crimes, and should use diplomatic channels to repatriate cash stashed abroad. 

The Eliud Wabukala-led team has not adequately exploited those avenues. Meanwhile, we urge the courts to speed up the hearing of economic crimes and abuse of office cases.

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