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Govt admits failure in containing graft

NAIROBI, July 16 – The government on Wednesday conceded failure in meeting its targets to fight corruption and change public perception on the vice in the country, despite enacting various legislations and a spirited fight by the Kenya Anti Corruption Commission (KACC).

Justice and Constitutional Affairs Minister Martha Karua said that the government had failed to act on recommendations by various Commissions of Inquiry to stop graft.

Speaking at the third National Integrity Forum in Nairobi, Karua confessed that government inaction had encouraged the culture of impunity and undermined the war on corruption.

Karua asserted: “So long as we have pending corruption cases arising out of all the transactions that have been cited in investigation reports, the perception of our society and of our friends will be that Kenya is still tolerating corruption.”

At the same function, Prime Minister Raila Odinga heaped blame on bureaucratic judicial processes, which he said have frustrated efforts of the KACC.

“It is very embarrassing and disappointing to see those who were involved in corruption yesterday passing judgment on other people today, and their names are in the reports of the Public Accounts and Public Investment Committees. This is a contradiction of crime,” he said.

The PM complained that the vice continues to push back would-be investors from the country, keeping away revenue and much needed employment. He also blamed leaders for politicising it.

The Premier asserted that the re-launched Cabinet subcommittee on corruption would work tirelessly to fight the vice.

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Odinga urged self-exiled former Ethics and Governance Permanent Secretary John Githongo to return to the country from Britain.

He said the government would guarantee security for Githongo, who quit his post in 2005 after exposing the Anglo-Leasing scandal.

”It continues to be an international slap on us saying that somebody who was fighting corruption is forced to live in exile. This Kenya will not prosecute Githongo. He is welcome to come and live in Kenya,” he assured.

Karua said Githongo’s life was not in danger and he should heed Odinga’s call to return home.

“Githongo is on voluntary exile. He has just been reassured that Kenya is safe for everyone, including him.”

President Kibaki’s government has been on the spotlight over corruption, which has eroded the faith of the public. Only last week, Finance Minister Amos Kimunya was forced to quit over allegations that he failed to follow laid down procedures in the disposal of Grand Regency Hotel. The President has since appointed a Commission of Inquiry into the matter.

Though created in 2003 to fight corruption in the country, KACC has failed to meet its expectations owing to legal and political impediments. The commission has only managed to take junior officials to the dock for cases that have also adversely mentioned Cabinet Ministers and sitting Members of Parliament.

KACC has now prioritised awareness campaigns in a bid to rally the public behind the culture of transparency and accountability.

Parliament meanwhile is currently debating the Anti Money Laundering Bill to enable the identification, tracing, freezing, seizure and eventual confiscation of the proceeds of all crimes including drug trafficking, corruption and economic crimes.

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