NAIROBI, Kenya, Jul 3 – Budalangi legislator Ababu Namwamba is proposing amendments to the Anti-Corruption and Economic Crimes Act 2003 to grant the Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission prosecutorial powers and another amendment to the Constitution to change the name of the graft watchdog.
In the Bill by Accountability Kenya which Namwamba chairs, EACC will be referred to as the Directorate of Ethics and Economic crimes (DEEC), modelled along the Serious Fraud Office of the UK and the Swiss Anti-Corruption Agency.
“The Constitution of Kenya (Amendment) Bill 2015 equips the DEEC with investigatory and prosecutorial powers in addition to the status of independent office under chapter 15,” reads the Bill.
“People want to see a very high bar in ethical standards in public service, a sharper implementation of the standards and principles of Chapter Six, and people want see a more effective war against corruption and not the game of musical chair we are currently witnessing,” said Namwamba.
He noted the challenge faced by the Director of Public Prosecutions Keriako Tobiko in completing the cases before him saying if EACC was given prosecutorial powers, the workload of the DPP would reduce significantly and thereby speed up the delivery of justice.
“The incessant turf wars between the two offices which have compromised the war on corruption will also end,” he added.
He said the bill would effectively promote the enforcement of Chapter Six on leadership and integrity by ensuring acts of corruption and particularly economic crimes were investigated, prosecuted and determined in a timely manner.
“One thing that cripples the EACC is the bureaucracy, infighting and political intrigues. The amendments will end this,” said Namwamba.
The Anti-Corruption and Economic Crimes (Amendment) Bill, 2015 creates the position of an ethics and economic crimes prosecutor who will prosecute on behalf of the commission.
The bill repeals section 35 of the Act which initially obligated the commission to furnish the DPP with an investigation report and section 36 which required them to also provide quarterly reports of its investigations.
In the bill, the DEEC will report annually to the National Assembly on the progress of prosecution of the various corruption and economic crimes.
The Constitution of Kenya (Amendment) Bill 2015 also provides for the formula of transition from the EACC to the DEEC once the new body is appointed.
The DEEC director will have a nine year term with security of tenure.
According to the Bill a longer term will see that the director brings investigations to conclusion and ensure dispensation of justice.
The proposed body shall be answerable to the National Assembly and the courts.
Namwamba believes that reducing the levels of bureaucracy would limit squabbles and internal fighting evident in the EACC where the secretariat and the Commissioners were at loggerheads while the commissioners who have since resigned had also fallen out.
Namwamba referred to his woes during his tenure as the Public Accounts Committee chairman and how he lost the position due his zealous fight to expose ‘corruption masterminds’ saying institution that deal with the vice needed to be protected.
“Today you have an EACC without a single commissioner, which tells you what a challenge it is to confront the beast that is corruption. You touch its tail and its strikes you viciously and with venom,” he further stated.
The eloquent legislator noted the enormity of the task ahead of them however expressing confidence that they would succeed in strengthening institutions meant rid Kenya of the corruption purge.
The Bills which are set to be tabled before Parliament are sure to elicit a heated debate especially since there has been contention over the constitution of the EACC since the commissioners have resigned from office.