Fight against graft on, we must do more

Uhuru’s com­ments were a call to ac­tion for all con­cerned to pull up their socks

The Star (Kenya) - - Front Page - MACHEL WAIKENDA

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.

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