Fight against graft on, we must do more
Uhuru’s comments were a call to action for all concerned to pull up their socks
Kenyans have been engaged in a healthy conversation since the State House Summit on Anti-Corruption and Accountability hosted by President Uhuru Kenyatta.
There has been a lot of reaction to comments President Uhuru made as he challenged each Kenyan, and especially various authorities mandated to fight corruption to up their game.
Some have said the President’s comments appeared to come from someone who has given up on the fight despite being the President.
I have chosen to look at it differently because, when you look at it holistically, you will objectively see a lot has been done.
The President’s comments were a simple call to action for all those who have a mandate to play in this war. Although the Jubilee administration has done a lot in this, graft remains one of the key issues that will shape the 2017 campaigns and a poisoned chalice for President Uhuru’s reelection.
Let’s start with what has been done on fighting corruption before we even look at what needs to be done. As the President said, he has lost people some of them his friends, including Cabinet Secretaries and Principal Secretaries, at a political cost. Those who were forced to step aside have had to remain out of their positions and have since been replaced with others.
In regards to what has been done concerning corruption cases, there are about 680 cases pending in the courts while investigative agencies such as the Ethics and AntiCorruption Commission are investigating hundreds of others.
One thing we must all be clear about is, the business of prosecuting and sentencing suspects is not a presidential role, and this is why the government has worked hard to empower these institutions.
For the first time in the history of fighting economic crimes in Kenya, assets linked to various suspects have been frozen. In the NYS scandal, Sh421 million worth of movable and immovable assets have been frozen in addition to Sh684 million of unpaid taxes being assessed awaiting a ruling by the tax tribunal.
Similarly, there is the case involving the Nairobi county officials where Sh1.3 billion worth of assets have also been frozen or seized as proceeds of crime.
One of the best interventions initiated by the presidency is the multi-agency team that brings together a large number of agencies involved in fighting graft.
Collaboration with the private sector has led to the Bribery Bill, which helps expand the war on corruption to givers of bribes.
In addition, there has been increased financial support to the EACC and the office of the DPP to enable them to combat corruption effectively — at both the national and county levels.
In the Judiciary, there is an established special division whose job is to handle corruption cases to avoid the delay that has been seen in the past.
At the Summit, US Ambassador Robert Godec said Kenya can learn from his country, which uses strike forces — composed of investigators and prosecutors — to fasttrack corruption cases. It is time President Uhuru takes up this challenge with the same vigour he initiated the formation of the multi-agency team.
Turning to the courts, it is also true they have been impeding this fight through the large number of injunctions they issue. We cannot halt cases indefinitely and so the Judiciary must improve on this aspect.