Saturday, March 31, 2007

KACC Has Made Remarkable Achievements LSK New Boss!

The new charman of Law Society of Kenya (LSK), Mr Okong’o Omogeni, has commended the Kenya Anticoruption Commission achievements in dealing with corruption. He said that in the former regime, former powerful ministers, permanent secretaries and even the Central Bank governors could not face the law.

Currently, there are a number of cases pending in courts against highly placed personalities among them permanent secretaries, a Central Bank of Kenya (CBK) governor and deputy governors, a former security intelligence boss, directors and managers of government corporation among others. In addition, on 29 March 2007, five senior civil servants were arraigned in court by the KACC. They include former Central Bank of Kenya deputy governor Eliphaz Riungu, former Commissioner of mines Collins Owayo, former CBK chief dealers Michael Wanjihia and Job Kilach and former permanent secretary Finance Wilfred Koinange.

Coming from the head of the lawyers’ organisation in Kenya, the praise of KACC is really sweet music as the commission has been blamed for incompetence. Recognition of the work done by KACC boosts its image as it has been in the receiving end of criticism especially from opposition politicians and civil society for the most time of its short life. In fact, the LSK boss would like the powers of the KACC to be extended to include prosecution of cases it investigates in order to forestall conflict with the powers of the Attorney General who is responsible for prosecutions. In the past, the KACC has investigated cases but on recommendation to prosecute to the AG the latter has return the files to the KACC requiring further investigation.

In order for the KACC to effectively do its work, it requires independence from other organs of state including the AG office. KACC should be given a free hand to investigate and prosecute cases. The current delay in prosecution of corruption cases can rightly be attributed to the allocation of powers to investigate to KACC and the prosecution powers to the AG. In this blog we have clearly supported the work done by the KACC and called for non-interference by other governance organs especially politicians. We believe strong and effective institution cannot flourish if their work is muddled with.

Monday, March 26, 2007

KACC Launches Anonymous Reporting System

In its accelerated efforts to curb corruption and implement the Whistle Blower Protection Act, the Kenya Anticorruption Commission (KACC) has launched an anonymous reporting system. The system uses the worldwide recognised whistle blower system by the Business Keeper Monitoring System (BKMS®). The implementation of the system is a big plus for the war against corruption.
The system guarantees potential whistle blowers anonymity and information confidentiality. The identity of the whistle blower is hidden and the report made remains confidential as it can only be accessed by KACC officials. The system further assures the whistle blower anonymous dialogue with KACC officials. This system is in use at the state office of criminal investigations in Germany and in 29 countries for the German Telekom among other organizations.

The KACC in its website gives guidance on making a corruption report. There are many other possible ways of making a report such as doing so in person, by telephone (Hot line) and/or fax, by mail, and by email But the anonymous system is a good improvement and may attract many persons who may have shied before from making a report.
In this blog we support all efforts that make the war against corruption realisable.

Thursday, March 22, 2007

Powerful Individuals Involved in Corruption want KACC Powers Curtailed!

An intense battle aimed at curtailing the powers of the Kenya Antcorruption Commission is going on between the leader of the Parliamentary Committee on Administration of Justice and Legal Affairs Hon. Paul Muite and the Commission's Director Justice Aaron Ringera. Muite wants the Anti-Corruption and Economic Crimes Act (ACECA) of 2003, which established the Commission amended. Muite is calling for the Parliament, to specifically amend Sections 26, 27 and 28 of the ACECA which are KACC’s main operational laws that enables it to make anyone declare their wealth and also explain how they acquired it. Under these sections the KACC can also force anyone it suspects to be corrupt to provide written statements of their property and obtain records and information to enable criminal investigation to be carried out on the suspected individual.

Justice Aaron Ringera, however, accuses Parliament of plotting to stall the functions and operations of the commission by effecting the said changes. Ringera also maintains that the proposed amendments are a conspiracy by powerful individuals implicated in corruption to block KACC from investigating them. Ringera has also faulted Kenyan laws which he said have gaps that must be improved to make the work of his Commission easier.

Muite has represented individuals affected by these powers of the Commission. Former Cabinet Minister Chris Murungaru was represented by Muite after he was fired following his alleged involvement in Anglo Leasing scandal two years ago and the KACC using these powers required him to explain how he acquired his enormous wealth. Paul Muite termed the powerful sections as unconstitutional and illegal saying they violated the constitutional right to remain silent before one is proven otherwise.

Ringera and the Commission have received support from Francis Atwoli, the Secretary - General of the Central Organisation of Trade Unions (COTU) who also sits in the KACC Board. Atwoli threatens to resign from his position if the amendments are carried out. He urged Parliament not to interfere with the work of KACC. He said, whereas the supremacy of the legislature should be upheld, the same should not be used by individuals involved in corruption and other malpractice to curtail the work and powers of KACC.

Whether the powers accorded the KACC are unconstitutional and interfere with individual right to silence is an interpretation issue and should be addressed by the courts. Muite should not use his influence as the leader of the Parliamentary Committee on Administration of Justice and Legal Affairs to unnecessarily undermine the work and independence of the KACC. He should let the courts establish the necessary jurisprudence in the area. Muite should use his role as defence lawyer to help the courts to establish this jurisprudence and not circumvent the process by rushing to Parliament.

In this Blog we support the work of the KACC and abhor the interference from politicians who would like to see its operations and independence curtailed. We believe democratic institutions take time to develop and operate effectively and therefore too much interference only ends at stifling their growth. Constructive criticism is welcome but one should not hide behind such criticism to destroy the very essence the institutions are built on.

See Also: Move to trim KACC powers is betrayal
National Convention Executive Council (NCEC)is convinced that the current clamour to change the law establishing the Commission is hell bent to protect the powerful politicians incriminated in high level corruption from investigation and prosecution in an election year. Read more ...
"Whereas Parliament cannot be bound, and is free to change its mind on provisions of law, we must ask the pointed question what mischief will Mr. Muite’s amendments cure? What public interest is he securing? Or is it a perhaps not a public interest he is concerned with, but rather a private interest? " Read more ...

Saturday, March 17, 2007

Corruption Stigma Comes Haunting ODM-Kenya on London Trip!

Corruption stigma came haunting at least two ODM-Kenya presidential candidates during the failed London trip, planned for the candidates. The British government was not amused by William Ruto visa application to travel to London and going by the reports in Kenya dailies, they refused to grant him a visa. Musila Mudavadi might have foreseen the fate that befell his counterpart Ruto and cleverly declined to be part of the group travelling to London. In this instance, the British government demonstrated its distaste for corruption irrespective which quarter it comes from – the government or the opposition. But has the Kenyans and their leaders inculcated such a dislike for corruption? The few instances below show that this is not the case. We glorify corruption when it involves the leaders, especially those in the opposition.

Firstly, it was disturbing to see the insensitivity by the ODM presidential candidates who had the audacity to claim that they failed to undertake the trip in support of Ruto who was denied a visa. Either this portrays their naivety or the lip service they pay to the war on corruption. At least there is no greatness in showing solidarity with any form of corruption either alleged or proved. They even tried to allege that the Ministry of Justice had a hand in it by leaking a list to the British Embassy in Kenya. The same blame game as always, no taking responsibility. But the Minister of Justice Martha Karua, in her character, could not take this and she responded “if I had done it the list would have been longer”.

Secondly, Kenyans seem to accept “the solidarity with Ruto” explanation by the ODM candidates without any critical reflection. They did not question why leaders would support Ruto or another person on corruption claims. Shouldn’t Kenyans have expected to hear from the leaders “let everyone carry their own cross”? Remember the Murungaru case how he was disowned by all. Are Kenyans so gullible to allow their leaders to easily cheat them on this one?

Thirdly, the media also is guilty of insensitivity to corruption when it does not involve the government. Unlike the critical media we witness, when corruption is from the government quarters – just remember the Murungaru case again – this time round the media conspired to remain silent. Is it that corruption is only serious or distasteful when it involves the government of the day and not those in the yesterdays government? Why double moral standards on the war against corruption by the media?

Fourthly, Raila Odinga tried to explain Rutos corruption charges away to his London audience by invoking rule of law. That is a clever way to handle the issue. But the hypocrisy is clear when the same leader does not give his opponents the same benefit of “innocent until proved guilty”. Rule of law is a sword and it cuts both ways - for Rutos and Murungarus. Again why double moral standards?

Fifthly, even the defender of human rights, Maina Kiai, has not seen it necessary to tell the leaders off, as is his character when the government is involved. The solidarity shown by these leaders is so distasteful to the war against corruption that Maina Kiai or the National Commission for Human Rights s silence is abominable. Again why double moral standards?

As we have stated in this blog, the fight against corruption cannot be won without a clear dislike for it. To fight corruption effectively, we should not condone it at all. It is necessary to reject leaders involved in corruption whether alleged or proved. We should borrow a leaf from the British government and show our distaste for corruption by locking out those with corruption tags from public and elective offices and not support them. In the case above, the society failed to tell Ruto and his counterparts that corruption is not acceptable in the highest office or any other office in the country. In fact, there is a need for a law that clearly bars and bans anyone involved in corruption from running for any public and elective office until the corruption allegations or charges are cleared. The call for minimum reforms should include such a provision or law.

Saturday, March 10, 2007

Let Us Consitently Show Our Dislike for Corruption!

I read the story in the Daily Nation 10 March 2007 by BEATRICE OFWONA by the title "Let us all act now for a better future" with keen interest. The story touched on key issues which we can do to fight decadence in our society. But the one aspect that attracted my attention most is the one on corruption for obvious reason that it resonates with the interest of this blog. She wrote:

"A HUMAN RIGHTS ACTIVIST HAS ADVISED US TO START thinking seriously about not letting corrupt people into our churches and other places of worship; of treating such people whose names have been linked to corrupt deals like the pariahs that they are; of letting them and their families suffer the brunt of our scorn and maybe, just maybe, we might dissuade others of corrupt inclination from engaging in such activities."

This approach to corruption is in line with what this blog advocates. We believe that the fight against corruption can be totally won if citizens show their dislike towards it. The example by Ofwona should be extended to all facets of life not only churches, just as we have called for locking out corrupt politicians from elective and other public offices. The dislike for corruption should be extended to our schools, public offices, hospitals, police force, judiciary, parliament, government, universities, and so on. It is only through a concerted dislike and action against corruption and the corrupt that we can redeem our society from this deadly cancer.