Sunday, December 31, 2006

Corruption Expected to Dominate News in 2007 Again

As 2006 fades away and 2007 ushers in, the war against corruption in Kenya is still in abeyance. Has the war against corruption been lost? That is the question many will be asking themselves. Since 2007 is an election year, allegations and counter-accusations on corruption are expected to dominate the media and political arena again. As we review the events that shaped the war against corruption in 2006 we expect 2007 will be no different.

As a summary, the year 2006 was characterised by high voltage political rhetoric but very little action to eradicate corruption. Opposition politicians were as usual the most outspoken condemning the government for inaction and spread of corruption among its ranks. Angloleasing scandal was the main corruption baggage the government could not get rid off and it gave President Kibaki’s government the most unwanted label of corruption. The government did not hesitate on its part to throw a few salvos to the opposition politicians reminding them that most of them were suspect in corruption scandals of Moi government especially the Goldenberg scandal and even the new Angloleasing scandal. This culminated with the publishing of the Anglo-Leasing and Kitale Prison Land lists of shame by the government.

The year 2006, however, started with the damning Githongo Angloleasing report, made public internationally in the late 2005 by the author. The report immediately claimed its first casualties when two ministers in the Kibaki government were forced to resign. Kenyan Finance Minister David Mwiraria and the Minister for Justice and Constitutional affairs Kiraitu Mirungi resigned after being linked to the corruption scandal. A third Minister David Murungaru, Minister for Security had been dropped from Kibaki’s government reshuffle after the ill-fated constitutional referendum vote in November 2005. The Anglo Leasing scandal also triggered the suspension of four senior civil servants. But the Vice President who was also implicated refused to budge to resignation calls claiming that he was innocent. Kiraitu has since been reinstated, as the Minister for Energy, after the allegations against him could not be supported by evidence.

The Githogo report also saw members of two public institutions, the Parliamentary Accounts Committee (PAC) led by the Official Leader of the opposition Uhuru Kenyatta and the Kenya Anti-Corruption Commission (KACC) led by the Director Justice Aaron Ringera travel to London to interview the author. The PAC report recommended prosecution of those involved. The KACC proposed charges against some of the culprits but the Attorney General returned the files to KACC for lack of adequate investigation. The year 2006 was also characterised by counter-accusations between the KACC and Attorney Generals office which only contributed to slowing down the resolve to fight corruption.

In the ending year, the investigation by an Inquiry Commission on the longest financial scandal in Kenya, the Goldenberg was handed to the government. The report claimed that the former President Daniel arap Moi must have been aware of a scam which cost some $600m. It also recommended the prosecution of Education Minister George Saitoti – the then finance minister under Mr Moi among other personalities. Saitoti was relieved his ministerial job to pave way for prosecution but he moved very fast to the court and had the prosecution against him dismissed. He has since bee reinstated to the same position an action. The reinstatement has been highly condemned national and internationally. Whether Kibaki's action deserves condemnation, when the court has given its decision, depends on the weight we put on our democratic institutions.

One institution that has been on the spotlight in 2006 is the KACC. It has been accused of impartiality, incompetence and laxity. As a consequence, some opposition leaders had threatened to demonstrate to the Directors office and remove him from office. KACC has countered these accusations by referring to cases, that it has dealt with in its website, which was not available at the time of this writing. A glimpse of site reveals a lot of activities that are not brought to the public awareness by the media or politicians.

The courts have handled a number of court cases against corrupt officials but this has not resonated well with the public. High profile candidates seem to miss from the list of the accused. Kenyans love high drama and therefore they would like to see a couple of Ministers in the dock and sentenced to prison. Whether this will happen in 2007 we wait to see. But the electorate should always remember that they have the power to hire and fire their elected leaders. Use your vote to get rid of corrupt leaders.

We take this opportunity to thank our readers for your confidence in us. We promise to continue giving you incisive commentaries and analysis on corruption the coming year.



Maua said...

Indeed Kenya is at a crossroads, and this election presents us with a different challenges. We gave Kibaki and Narc Kenya a chance, and have seen the inefficiences of a shell party, what promises does ODM hold for us? And are we the citizens finally going to demand what belongs to us? And even if we are, are the politicians running viable options?

I really like the questions you raise in this blog. Would you be interested in re-blogging and addressing a Kenyan online interactive newspaper? Please drop me an email for more details. . Alternatively, if you like what you see you can go ahead and create an account and post this posting and others :) looking forward to hearing from you.

Dr. Stephen Kabera Karanja said...

I agree with you that the politicians may not be giving us viable options but I also believe that the electorate can set their own agenda. For example if the the electorate make it clear that they will not vote in, any person associate with corruption, they will send a clear message to political parties that if they would like to win the election they have to present clean candidates for election. Otherwise, the electorate should not feel obliged to vote for a candidate irrespective of his/her corruption history simply because he/she is the only candidate from that party. The electorate should feel free to elect a clean candidate from another party. This will instil discipline and accountability in party politics.

I will be happy to reblog your blog. I will put a link to my Notable Blogs, if you do the same I will appreciate.