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Kenya and graft are joined in the hip

NAIROBI, Kenya, Jan 16 – Political corruption in Kenya has had a history which spans from the era of Presidents Jomo Kenyatta and Daniel Moi’s KANU governments to Mwai Kibaki’s NARC administration and now the Grand Coalition government.

The coalition government formed in April 2008 after controversial elections in December the previous year had been hailed as a model by the African Union for countries like Zimbabwe, but several months down the line analysts say little has been done to remedy the culture of impunity and graft which was at the heart of the political crisis following the elections. 

The government formed by President Mwai Kibaki’s Party of National Unity (PNU) coalition and Prime Minister (PM) Raila Odinga’s Orange Democratic Movement (ODM) is having to deal with cases of mega corruption which are likely to make the country rank highly in the international corruption index.

The Kenya Pipeline Company Sh7.6 billion oil scandal and the unfolding maize scam, estimated to cost the taxpayer a whopping Sh825 million, implicates ministers from both ODM and PNU and reminds Kenyans of the multimillion Anglo Leasing and Goldenberg scandals committed during President Kibaki’s first term and the final years of former President Moi’s tenure.

Professor Fred Jonyo, a political science lecturer at the University of Nairobi however says Kenyans should not be surprised by the new wave of graft in government since it was formed more on the basis of personal and not public interest.

“The coalition is made up of elitists who are keen to mobilise resources for expected future contests. Elections are becoming expensive in Africa hence the opportunistic individuals in government who may be preparing themselves for the 2012 general election,” Prof Jonyo said in an interview.

Human rights and anti-graft groups have accused the President and the PM of reneging on their election pledge to lead the anti-corruption campaigns if elected.

The activists say the government’s campaign message of zero-tolerance to corruption is yet to kick off and are calling on the government to purge itself of the vice.

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The concerned parties have called on the President and Prime Minister to take the lead in fighting graft to do away with the culture of impunity.

Corruption if left unchecked, they say, is likely to chase away foreigners who want to invest in the country. In the recent past companies wanting to invest in the country had indicated that the rampant corruption was the biggest obstacle to doing business.

Local companies have also revealed that they have had to give ‘gifts’ or informal ‘payments’ to secure government contracts.

“We may not be able to eradicate corruption completely from our society but at least it can be controlled,” said Transparency International – Kenya Director Job Ogonda.

Orange Democratic Movement (ODM) Chief Whip Jakoyo Midiwo has proposed that a leaner Cabinet be constituted for better management.

“During the Bomas constitution talks we rooted for 17 Cabinet Ministers though some of us said 12. We can even choose eight of the best and let them run the country to economic prosperity.”

Critics have also called for the overhaul of the judiciary and the dismissal of the Kenya Anti Corruption Commission (KACC) Boss Justice Aaron Ringera if the war on corruption is to be won.

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