Uhuru: Accounting officers to undergo fresh vetting
Those who fail the integrity test will go, vows president as demands for action get louder
All heads of procurement and accounts in the Kenyan government will undergo fresh vetting, including polygraph tests, to determine their integrity and suitability, President Uhuru Kenyatta said on Friday.
The president, in his Madaraka Day address, said this is part of the measures he intends to implement to tackle runaway corruption that has tainted his administration.
“Those who fail the vetting will stand suspended,” he said.
“I expect this exercise to be concluded before the start of the new financial year. You will hear of other tougher actions in the days to come,” the president said at Kinoru Stadium in Meru County in the Central region, where he led the nation in marking the day Kenya obtained self-rule.
“As we celebrate the good that has been achieved over the decades since Independence, we know there are areas in which we have not done well. A few of us have failed, their motherland,” he said.
The Kenyatta government has launched a campaign against official corruption, with more than 20 government officials and merchants arraigned this week on corruption and abuse of officerelated charges.
But the challenge remains whether big names will be prosecuted and convicted.
The government has launched a multipronged investigations looking at how the Integrated Financial Management System (IFMIS), a public electronic procurement system that provides an end-to-end platform intended to enhance accountability among suppliers and procurement officials, has been manipulated to list phantom companies that receive millions of dollars for no services.
While the current investigations are centred on the loss of $90 million at the National Youth Service, sources told The Eastafrican that all government departments and agencies are targeted.
The president said that some of those entrusted with managing institutions, resources and safeguard the public interest have turned into predators.
“While the challenge may look huge because of the way corruption has become entrenched, we have to declare that like colonialism was defeated, so will corruption be,” he said.
NYS director Richard Ndubai and the Principal Secretary in the Youth Ministry, Lilian Omollo, are among 26 individuals who have so far been taken to court over the NYS scam.
A series of scandals have been unearthed in the past two weeks and Kenyans have called on the president to crack down on the culpable individuals to safeguard his legacy in light of the many scandals that have characterised his administration from 2013.
The NYS scandal was followed by revelations that $20 million was paid to undeserving suppliers of maize to the national grain reserve, the National Cereals and Produce Board at the expense of farmers.
Now, Agriculture Cabinet Secretary Mwangi Kiunjuri says that as much as $80 million could have been lost at the NCPB where cartels delivered overvalued maize. This was followed by revelations of the loss of another $20 million meant for a tree-planting project led by the president.
Kenyans have urged the judiciary not to frustrate the war against corruption, and Chief Justice David Maraga assured the country of its commitment to ending the vice.
President Kenyatta and Deputy President William Ruto, are on the record blaming the judiciary for frustrating the war on corruption by allowing numerous injunctions or acquitting the accused. Government spokesperson Eric Kiraithe recently took a similar line, pleading with the judiciary to handle the corruption cases expeditiously, taking into account the public interest.
“While we respect the independence of the judiciary, we feel obliged to point out what is at stake and humbly request that the cases be given a fair shake so that these individuals can pay for their infractions. Without the co-operation of the courts, all the work by the Directorate of Criminal Investigations and the Director of Public Prosecutions will be in vain,” said Mr Kiraithe.
However, a section of lawyers believe that the government is trying to intimidate the courts and that the judiciary will be blamed if the cases fail.
“The DPP should bring watertight cases that are properly investigated and well prosecuted. The government should not blame the courts if they have carried out shoddy investigations,” said Okello Opollo, a Nairobi-based lawyer.
In 2015, some $7.9 million was reported stolen from NYS by phantom companies and the issue is yet to be concluded. The new scandal is a major test for President Kenyatta, who had promised to bring to account all those involved, no matter their status.
We know there are areas in which we have not done well. A few of us have failed, their motherland.” President Uhuru Kenyatta
National Youth Service director Richard Ndubai is handcuffed by a police officer in a Nairobi court, where he was charged with graft.