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 ...

1 comment:

Whispering Inn said...

First, I applaud your dedicated efforts to speak out against corruption in Kenya in your blog.

In the matter of Muite v the KACC, I am not at all surprised that he now wants to curtail the powers of the very same organization that he is supposed to strengthen and protect for the betterment of his Constituents and Kenyans at large.

This is the result of a clear conflict of interest and a blurring of his responsibilities both as a parliamentarian and as a lawyer representing allegedly corrupt powerful individuals.

Muite's inability to keep the two jobs separate should disqualify him from the chairmanship as it is akin to letting the fox guard the hen house.

I hope that Ringera and the KACC (though both are largely toothless) are able to rebuff Muite's attempts to render them even more useless.