Renewed onslaught against graft cartels the way to go

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MACHEL WAIKENDA

Recently, I wrote of a country basking in the warm glow of the Lupita Nyong’o Oscar halo all the way from Hollywood, but back home, some facts remain stubbornly cast in stone rather than coated in the mould of the Oscars of success.

Kenya is ranked at position 139th most corrupt country in the world in an index involving 176 countries. Those successive knocks on the door are chilling reminders that the ghosts of Anglo leasing, Goldenberg, Maize, Triton, Grand Regency and the Japan Embassy mega scandals are camped at our doorstep, demanding re-entry into their former comfort Castle of the Unvanquished. In fact, the beast snapping its fangs and growling outside our creaking door is the great great grand-mongrel of the revered old Master of Corruption County and is almost breaking free from its leash.

We are not just losing too much money through cracks in the walls, but neighbours and passersby are viewing us as a country where visitors and investors should be afraid of venturing in. And now even with a new master of the household in charge, it appears new gremlins are emerging in the Laptops-for-Schools and the Standard Gauge Railway projects.

The government says almost a quarter of the national government is lost through the sieve of corruption. Unless we seal the gaping holes and rat out those who are punching more holes in the sieve, we risk going hungry. Literally! For instance, what we may save up in the efforts to reduce the wage bill will end up in other people’s pockets.

In total, the amount that has been lost through corrupt deals is enough to help the government banish all its social-economic woes, establish more schools, improve others, equip hospitals and provide medical supplies.

This must end forthwith and there is renewed momentum aimed at dealing with shadowy corruption cartels operating within corridors of government. And even as the State talks tough, a report by the Director of Public Prosecutions reveals that 56 cases of corruption were reported by last December. But the purge has begun and that is all that matters!

Most of the leaching happens through the procurement process calling for a review of the laws and regulations and restructuring this department in all ministries. Procurement laws and rules must be tighter and have more punitive punishments meted against those who defy them.

Yes, the President is fighting back and has started dismantling the corruption cartels at his Harambee House office through the recent changes that have seen mass redeployment of staff. This must be replicated across the ministries to ensure the vice is dealt with totally. To back this up, there is also enhanced implementation of the Integrated Financial Management Systems (IFMIS) that will definitely help deal with corruption arising from the procurement processes in government. Commendably too, the Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission has started going after the so-called big fish as we see former ministers and current politicians being questioned and even hauled along the corridors of justice for alleged corruption.

Leading from the front and maintaining the tempo, the President has directed the Attorney General and the Department of Justice, the National Treasury and EACC to develop a comprehensive national ethics and anti-corruption policy, as a key pillar of the country’s development agenda by the end of December 2014. We must also speak out when progress is made like the EACC recently recovering parcels of public land in Mombasa, Nairobi and other areas valued at Sh5.5 billion.

Government must ensure any individual caught engaging in graft is punished severely. Such individuals should also be used to help authorities identify the cartels involved in shady deals. Graft is a cancer threatening to kill the Kenya through the loss of public funds and must, therefore, be tackled with all that can be employed. No individual, regardless of their position in government, should be allowed to misuse or steal public funds.

(The writer is a political and communications consultant. Twitter @MachelWaikenda)

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