Many commissions, yet no answers

July 15, 2008 12:00 am

, NAIROBI, July 15 – It has become a general rule of operation for the government to appoint a commission of inquiry into every issue that elicits public outcry.

From the inquests into the murders of J.M Kariuki, Dr Robert Ouko, the Akiwumi commission that investigated tribal clashes in the 90s, to the Goldenberg inquiry and even the commission appointed to investigate the shadowy Artur brothers.

However we have seen little, if any, action on the recommendations of such commissions.
It is common practice that most of these reports end up gathering dust in secret government offices. To many Kenyans, the inquiry teams are an attempt to divert the attention of the country and cover up the truth. Indeed by the time the reports, whether incriminating or not, are finalised, the public pressure has died off.
Just this year, in this era of coalition-building and a new, ‘transparent’ Kenya, numerous commissions have been set up – the Kofi Annan mediation team which gave birth to the Kriegler probe team, Waki commission and the latest, the Cockar team on the Grand Regency saga. Ministers have also joined in disbanding public institutions and setting up investigative committees.
The question, to many, is whether the situation is different this time?
In addition, previous commissions formed to investigate government officers have one thing in common: they incriminate everyone else except the ministers. Indeed, a number of permanent secretaries and other junior officers have fallen victim ending up in courts besides losing their jobs.
However the country seems to have taken a political shift. Parliament is now playing its watchdog role more fervently as demonstrated in the grand regency saga and the interrogation of government policies. If this enthusiasm continues we can bet that the August House will demand implementation of the various reports.
Secondly, the country is now under close watch by the international community especially after the post-poll violence earlier in the year. The African Union brokered peace with the commissions of inquiry in relation to last year’s elections under the mandate of the AU panel of eminent persons. With the dedication they showed in the mediation talks and their influence in the power sharing agreement Kenyans can put some hope in their supervisory role.
The Civil society and media too has in the recent past exhibited renewed vigour in the scrutiny of government operations. The genuineness of their vigour and for how long they can persist on a particular issue is.


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