TI urges Kenya to sign minerals pact

January 21, 2011 12:00 am

, NAIROBI, Kenya, Jan 20 -Transparency International (TI) wants Kenya to sign up to an initiative that aims to promote integrity and transparency in the minerals sector.

TI Founder Dr Peter Eigen said on Thursday that although Kenya was not yet rich in mineral resources, there were indications of oil, gas and other natural resources that could be economically viable being discovered soon.

“We are trying to explain to the authorities in Kenya to have it (the initiative) on board before they find oil and other natural resources,” he said.

He told Capital News in an interview that the Initiative known as Extractive Industry Transparency Initiative was formed six years ago and has 35 member countries whose governments had committed to publish what they were paid by the companies operating in the sector.

Dr Eigen noted with concern that countries which were rich in natural resources were often the poorest in terms of economic development hence the need for Kenya to take an early initiative.

“Like in Tanzania they are participating because it encourages foreign investors to come in; we have so many companies that may find something but they are so scared of the gangsters sitting in the governments that they don’t dare to tell anybody,” he explained.

At the same time, Dr Eigen expressed optimism that the organisation would soon regain confidence of the Kenyan population following its restructuring.

He said that TI-Kenya relaxed when the NARC government came to power in 2002 because they were hopeful that corruption would end.

He said he founded TI during the KANU regime, a time when corruption was rife and he was upbeat that it would once again take up its role without prejudice.

“We were extremely happy when President Kibaki was elected on an anti-corruption platform and we were happy that many of the recommendations of TI Kenya were implemented and we were about to declare victory but then after a year or two the government fell back into old practises,” he said.

Dr Eigen said they had now learnt to keep distance with any administration in what he termed as a long journey to ending corruption and impunity.

“The challenge for TI Kenya was that everybody was so happy when President Kibaki came on board that we lost the distance which you need from the government if you want to be a federal watchdog and therefore TI Kenya had to go through a very painful process of restructuring itself because it was simply too close to the government,” he said.

He also challenged civil society organisations to have a strong participation in governance issues in order to fight corruption and impunity in the country.

Dr Eigen said civil societies needed to strongly fight for accountability by the government.

He said use of International Institutions like the International Criminal Court where the country has no capacity to instil justice within its borders was also a way to ensure an end to corruption and impunity. 

“There should be a combination of international and domestic institutions,” he said.

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