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Kenyan minister tells colleagues to own up

\"\"NAIROBI, Kenya, Mar 11 – Forestry and Wildlife Minister Noah Wekesa is now asking Kenya’s political elite to take responsibility for the continual loss of public property through fraud and impunity.

Dr Wekesa whose ministry seeks to raise Sh38 billion to replenish and restore the Mau’s forest cover said political leaders should set examples that would curb the vice by honouring institutions entrusted to them.

He said that it cannot be business as usual while finances meant for the country’s development agenda continued to be lost corruptly.

“We create institutions but we rubbish them ourselves. This is an issue that we must deal with… and that is every Kenyan; particularly political leaders. We cannot create laws and not follow those laws; we cannot create institutions that we don’t respect. It is high time that we wake up and say goodbye to corruption,” he said.

He proposed that government introduces laws and stiff penalties on all those who engaged in the vice saying it would address corruption and accord it the seriousness it deserves.

“Impunity on corruption should be a matter that we should entrench within our Constitution. We are not going to do things the usual way. These funds that we get come from tax payers within Kenya and outside Kenya and we must look after this funding,” he said.

The Minister who noted that it would take foreign as well as local financial intervention to raise the money required to replenish the Mau also assured Kenyans that his ministry had put in place measures to ensure the money was spent for the right purpose.

“We have formed a sub committee in my ministry of senior officers including the PS and directors of KEFRI, Kenya Forest Service and Kenya wild Service. This committee is going to address the issue of governance as far as our money is concerned and we will deal with anybody within our ministry who misappropriates funds,” he explained.

The Minister observed that Kenyans had in the recent past witnessed corruption scandals where money amounting to billions of shillings was lost. He said leaders would increase public trust and faith in local institutions if they were held accountable for their actions.

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“We reading a lot of corruption issues in many areas and we are tired; please keep it away. We create institutions but we mismanage them,” he said and added that the vice was taking its toll on development and hampering Kenya’s chances of encouraging foreign investment.

Dr Wekesa who was speaking after the flagging off of 29 DMAX pick-ups from General Motors to be used in facilitating the ministry’s mandate also asked his members of staff to take proper care of the vehicles charged to them.

“The drivers who will have the honour to drive these vehicles should drive them as if they bought them with a very big loan. You will be driving a car that has been bought by hard working people in this world. After one year we will do an audit on these vehicles and give a price to the driver who will have looked after his car best,” he said.

GM East Africa Managing Director Bill Lay said the vehicles would be used to enhance the ministry’s performance.

A total of 55 vehicles were bought at a cost of Sh45 million through the Natural Resource Management (NRM) – a project that is jointly funded by the World Bank and the Kenyan government through a World Bank credit facility amounting to $68.5 million. NRM project became effective in December 2007 and will run for six years until 2013. Some of the vehicles will be taken to the Water Ministry.

City Hall’s loss of Sh259 million for a proposed cemetery has been the latest corruption scandal to be unearthed. The Education Ministry also lost billions of shillings and Kenya’s top leaders clashed after disagreeing on how to deal with Ministers whose offices were implicated in corruption.

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