Uhuru: Ac­count­ing of­fi­cers to un­dergo fresh vet­ting

Those who fail the in­tegrity test will go, vows pres­i­dent as de­mands for ac­tion get louder

The East African - - NEWS - By FRED OLUOCH Spe­cial Cor­re­spon­dent Pic: File

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.

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