, NAIROBI, Kenya, Nov 9 -United States Ambassador to Kenya Robert Godec says Kenyan officials named in corruption scandals may find it difficult visiting America.
Godec says they will consider denying the officials visas to travel to the US because of the corruption levels in government which have hit crisis levels.
“Obviously we will continue to – as we have in the past – use whatever mechanisms we believe are appropriate to address specific instances where we believe there is corruption or where individuals are corrupt. This is a matter that deeply concerns Kenyans in the first instance and concerns the US as a partner and we will use those options that are available to us,” he said in response to a question about slapping travel bans on corrupt individuals.
He however made it clear that it was Kenya’s leaders and citizens who had a responsibility to deal with corruption, regardless of what the US may or may not do to be part of the solution.
“I welcome the steps that President Kenyatta has taken with his government but there is a lot more that remains to be done. There are still many different actions that are needed to end this problem and it is critical that every person be a solution to the problem,” Godec said.
The American envoy further emphasised the need for thorough investigations to be undertaken and those found culpable convicted on the basis of hard proof.
Godec was speaking during the launch of a Sh66.4 billion Kenya Medical Supplies Authority (KEMSA) Medical Commodities Program (MCP) where he pointed out that mechanisms to ensure greater accountability have been put in place.
“All allegations of corruption must be investigated and when evidence is found, officials must be prosecuted and if found guilty, sent to prison regardless of their position or wealth. Ending corruption is first a task for leaders,” he said.
During the occasion, he expressed confidence in KEMSA to manage the program.
“We have also taken strong steps to ensure there is full transparency and accountability. Corruption threatens Kenya’s economic growth, the provision of government services and security. It threatens the country’s health care system and it must end and for that to happen, all public programs must live up to the highest standards,” he said.
He also stressed the need for zero tolerance on corruption and explained that public funds must go to their intended beneficiaries who in this case are patients suffering from life threatening illnesses.
“As a friend, the United States will do all it can to help as promised in the joint commitment issued during President Obama’s historic visit in July. Our new program with KEMSA is a testament to our confidence in the organization. Receiving funds from the US government is not easy and it is also not easy to manage resources effectively when they are on this scale,” he said.
His sentiments were echoed by the Health Principal Secretary Khadijah Kassachoon who pointed out that every effort was being put to fighting the vice.
“Corruption does not describe Kenya or else Kenya would not have been the third most improved country businesswise in the world because as we say, figures don’t lie. It is unfortunate that lies and rumours travel faster than the truth. Kenya has a vibrant community and the development statistics show it,” she said.
“Kenya is a country where issues of transparency and accountability are held in high regard and maybe that is why we hear these cases of corruption. I appreciate the support from all the partners in the health sector and re-affirm the Ministry of Health’s commitment to improving the health of our people.”
The US Government through USAID, awarded the funds in September and it is the largest award ever by the mission.
KEMSA MCP will procure, warehouse and distribute medications and equipment funded by PEPFAR, the US President’s Malaria Initiative and USAID Global Health programs for maternal and child health and family planning.
It is the first USAID direct contract with KEMSA, following decades of US Government supported supply-chain programs.
The US Government has been helping KEMSA for the past 13 years to strengthen its institutional capacity and logistics-management system.
The KEMSA Medical Commodities Program is an example of the US Government’s support to host-country institutions and transforming that partnership into long-term sustainable development.
Its purpose is to establish and operate a safe, secure, reliable and sustainable supply chain management system for HIV/AIDS commodities.
These commodities are needed to provide care and treatment of persons with HIV/AIDS and to support the warehousing and distribution of select family planning, nutrition and malaria commodities.