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Focus on anti-graft campaign as Kenyatta readies for annual address  

In his 2018 State of the Nation Address delivered to a joint sitting of Parliament on May 3, Kenyatta had singled out challenges in the utilisation of public resources as the main hurdle in his quest for the socioeconomic transformation of the country/FILE

NAIROBI, Kenya, Apr 3 – The anti-graft war touted as a key legacy agenda for President Uhuru Kenyatta’s second and final term in office is widely expected to dominate his State of the Nation Address on Thursday.

The annual address stems from Article 132 (1) of the Constitution which mandates the Head of State to address a special sitting of Parliament once every year and file a report on “measures taken and progress achieved in the realisation of national values” set out in Article 10.

President Kenyatta is also required to submit a report to the National Assembly on the country’s progress in fulfilling its international obligations.

During Thursday’s address, Kenyatta is expected to outline his agenda before a bicameral Parliament in which he enjoys cross-party support for ongoing anti-graft efforts following his March 9, 2018 political truce with his nemesis Raila Odinga, whose party (ODM) commands the second highest number of seats in both Houses of Parliament after the ruling Jubilee Party.

According to Richard Bosire, a Nairobi-based political analyst, Kenyatta’s focus should be on reassuring the public of his government’s commitment to tackling graft, a commitment the Political Science lecturer says has so far yielded significant results.

“The anti-graft war is work in progress and I think President Kenyatta will try to convince the Republic that the right people are in the right places. The Directorate of Criminal Investigations, Office of the Director of Public Prosecution, Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission, and the Judiciary are critical institutions in this regard,” the University of Nairobi don told Capital FM News on Tuesday.

In his 2018 State of the Nation Address delivered to a joint sitting of Parliament on May 3, Kenyatta had singled out challenges in the utilisation of public resources as the main hurdle in his quest for the socioeconomic transformation of the country “with some individuals fraudulently and corruptly diverting public resources to benefit themselves.”

The Head of State at the time said the government was “building preventive tools and ways for citizens to become more involved in reporting graft” as part of upscaled efforts to nip the vice in the bud.

Bosire pointed out that President Kenyatta needed to consolidate gains made in the anti-graft campaign by ensuring the government is forging a united front on the ongoing purge on corruption.

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Emerging differences in opinion on the fight against graft between Kenyatta and his deputy William Ruto, Bosire noted, were sending mixed signals on the renewed war against corruption.

“I believe if Kenyans spoke the same language this dragon will be slayed. The entire government – all Arms – needs to have a conference and say they’re for the war against corruption so that they can send a strong message to those who are corrupt,” he said.

Leading the charge against graft, DCI chief George Kinoti, and DPP Noordin Haji have however come under sharp criticism from a section of politicians with an axis allied to DP William, Ruto specifically cautioning Kinoti against carrying out politically instigated investigations.

Fault lines within the political class emerged when Kinoti announced an investigation over the alleged loss of Sh21 billion he said had been paid to a contractor for the construction of two dams in Elgeyo Marakwet, sums Kinoti said were irregularly expended since works were yet to commence long after the payment was made.

The National Treasury whose Cabinet Secretary Henry Rotich has been quizzed by the DCI severally over the payments Arror and Kimwarer dams has maintained that no money was lost, a position backed by Ruto.

According to Rotich, the government spent Sh12 billion to secure funding for the two dams under a government-to-government arrangement, following which an Italian firm – Servizi Assicurativi del Commercio Estero (SACE) – was paid a Sh7.8 billion advance fee representing 15 per cent of the contract amount.

Treasury explained Sh12 billion was part of the conditions precedent outlined in a financing agreement approved by the Attorney General before the National Treasury signed it on April 18, 2017.

The amount entailed an arrangement fee of Sh545.9 million, a Sh359.5 million commitment fee, a Sh3.5 million agency fee and a Sh11.1 billion insurance premium paid to an Italian contractor.

The DCI has since interviewed several Cabinet Secretaries whose dockets may be directly involved in the construction of dams including Agriculture Cabinet Secretary Mwangi Kiunjuri, and his Devolution counterpart Eugene Wamalwa who previously served in the Water and Irrigation docket.

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Although the DPP is yet to recommend prosecution of any top official, pressure has been mounting for President Kenyatta to dismiss appointees indicted in graft.

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