It is not true that corruption is a problem of the third world and emerging economies, the problem affects all nations. Corruption and abuse of public office for private gain exist in every country but on different levels and magnitude.
Kenya has experienced various cycles of challenge and reform within the governance and anti-corruption sphere. Perpetrators of corruption have exploited policies such as import licensing, export compensation, price/exchange controls as well as legal loopholes to evade culpability in the web of corruption.
Previous governments’ attempts to legislate, investigate and prosecute corruption often faced stiff resistance (politically/socially) resulting in the passing of watered-down legislation, deficient investigation and non-conviction, a situation that not only made corruption a taboo (politically sensitive) but also entrenched the acceptability of corruption as a way of life in Kenyan society.
The government under President Uhuru Kenyatta embarked on an anti-corruption crusade despite the obvious political and social risk. Uhuru’s administration has led the government’s energetic renewal of the campaign against corruption and now this bold action, coupled with subsequent precision interventions has began to bear fruit.
This political goodwill has accelerated the fight against corruption. Consequently, the anti-corruption agenda has been placed at the forefront of the government’s development agenda and policies have been revamped and investigative and prosecutorial agency leadership renewed.
Implementing agencies are being aided with critical political, financial, human resource and logistics support in their work and executive orders have been issued to secure compliance on ethics and integrity in the public service and on publication of procurements.
Mwongozo Code of Governance for State Corporations was issued in 2015 as part of state reforms to enhance transparency, accountability and effectiveness of state corporations.
The signing of Accountability Pledges by appointed State and Public Officers has been enforced. This has helped to instill a greater sense of responsibility to public officials on meeting their constitutional mandates and being accountable to their employers- the Kenyan citizens.
Vetting of public finance management officers has been undertaken, being the first phase of vetting to curb mismanagement of public resources and bipartisanship has been embraced to secure the ideals and common objectives of the anti-corruption agenda.
There is enhanced enforcement of existing legislation which is helping to curb graft (Public Officers Ethics Act 2003, Public Finance Management Act 2012, ACECA 2003, PPDA 2015, Bribery Act, Public Service Values and Principles Act; Public Appointments (Parliamentary Approvals) Act among others).
These are to be enhanced through additional reforms to resolve emerging challenges such as conflict of interest and stepping aside of state Officers/Elected Officials among others
Additionally, the publication of tender information by public agencies secures citizen information, participation as well as verification of project implementation.
The use of a multi-agency approach to fight corruption whereby state agencies that are on the frontline in the fight against graft develop more harmonious and effective working relationships is another strategy that is bearing fruits.
These include the AG, EACC, ARA, ODPP, DCI, NIS among others. The multi-agency approach in the fight against corruption under the championship of the president has ensured synergized investigations and prosecution, intelligence and information sharing on a real-time basis and reduced time and bureaucracy, hence avoiding duplication.
The government has also cast the anti-corruption net beyond Kenyan borders by engaging international partners in Mutual Legal Assistance, actions that have enabled the repatriation of proceeds of crime held outside the country, extradition of suspects and the receipt of key evidence to support both local and international-based cases (e.g. FRACCK).
These multifaceted efforts to fight graft have borne fruit. It waa reported that in the past two years alone, assets worth over Sh5 billion have been recovered by the EACC through court proceedings and out of court settlements- 2.32 B recovered in 2017/2018 and 3.187 B recovered in 2018/2019 financial year.
Additionally, there have been numerous arrests, prosecutions and convictions with even high ranking state officials stepping aside when charged with graft (9 CSs, 9 PSs and 16 CEOs). In 2017/2018 EACC had successfully investigated 183, had 49 court cases finalized with a further 414 pending before court. This is commendable.
The use of technology has also helped much. Digitization of services such as the NIIMs, e-Citizen, KRA, IFMIS, lands, companies, drivers’ License acquisition among others have also helped to transform service delivery in the public sector by reducing turnaround times and enhancing efficiency.
They have also reduced contact between public officers and citizens hence decreasing the loopholes for corruption.
Going forward, the government needs to invest adequately in processes that increase its transparency and accountability as well as the efficiency of its services. There should be emphasis on enforcement of directives that enhance optimal service delivery to citizens at minimum taxpayer cost.
At least the government is finally doing something and it requires the support of Kenyans everywhere to ensure it wins the fight against corruption.
This is a huge step by President Uhuru Kenyatta.
Dr. David Matsanga is the Chairman of the Pan African Forum (UK) Ltd.