Graft: Ministers, PSs asked to resign

January 15, 2009 12:00 am

, NAIROBI, Kenya, Jan 15 – The National Anti-Corruption Campaign Steering Committee (NACCSC) wants all top officials implicated in a raft of major scandals to go home, as the government conducts a thorough probe.

At a press conference on Thursday, Committee Chairperson Rose Arungu was adamant that the Ministers and Permanent Secretaries of Agriculture and Energy should be made to account for the multi-billion shilling scandals, because they are entrusted with the country’s resources.

“If it is true that thousands of tonnes of grain have been illegally sold abroad when millions of Kenyans are starving, then the Minister and the PS owe Kenyans an explanation,” Ms Arungu said of officials at Kilimo House – the Ministry of Agriculture headquarters.

“They,” she said, making reference to the Energy Minister and his PS, “have the responsibility to follow this oil scandal to its logical conclusion, with the culprits being brought to book.”

Pressure is mounting on the coalition government over revelations of major corruption networks in the two key ministries. These revelations show that the country is set to lose about Sh7.6 billion in an oil related scandal pitted around the petroleum company, Triton.

Triton collapsed last month with billions of shillings owed to the Kenya Commercial Bank, as well as other dealers and international financiers. The government has already contracted Interpol to help track the firm’s proprietor Yagnesh Devani, who is said to have fled the country.

And as more than ten million Kenyans are reportedly facing starvation, it is believed that some businessmen, politicians and top government officials were making a kill by siphoning maize out of the country into Southern Sudan.

The Kenya Anti-Corruption Commission (KACC) has begun investigations into the scandals, but Ms Arungu is concerned that those being investigated are still in office.

The NACCSC chairperson said failure to deal conclusively with past grand scandals has encouraged impunity in the government. The committee defended itself by saying it had done enough in educating the public on graft and instead pointed the finger at the Judiciary, KACC and the police, accusing them of sleeping on the job.

Ms Arungu said that despite its commitment of zero tolerance on corruption, the coalition government had failed in its fight against the vice.

“All these cases begin but somewhere along the way they stall. As such, Kenyans are sceptical as to whether there will be any meaningful prosecution of the culprits in these new scandals,” the committee relayed.

The NACCSC urged President Mwai Kibaki to convene a crisis meeting of the agencies entrusted with the responsibility of fighting corruption, to give the country a way forward.

“The government must recover all the assets and money lost, to avoid plunging the country into a deeper financial crisis,” Ms Arungu concluded.


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