Home / Nairobi / Will stance on corruption cost President Kenyatta his second term?
President-elect Uhuru Kenyatta (R) greets his supporters with his running mate, William Ruto after attending a news conference in Nairobi on March 9, 2013. The two have been indicted by Kenyans for not doing enough to fight corruption. [Photo: REUTERS/Siegfried Modola]

Will stance on corruption cost President Kenyatta his second term?

On Monday, Kenyans waited anxiously as President Uhuru Kenyatta was to address the nation on the state of corruption in the country.

Coming just days after the resignation of Devolution CS Anne Waiguru, the nation waited in anticipation that, finally the country would be given a reason to have hope that corruption would be a thing of the past – in a practical way.

But from the feedback, it seems that Kenyans are a tired lot and the president may need to rethink the strategy on fighting corruption.

Minutes after the address by the president started, Kenyans took to social media expressing their disapproval, majorly, of how the presidency was tackling the fight against corruption.

In what was interpreted as another unnecessary lecture to Kenyans, the president focused his speech on how the private sector would do business with the government ‘as guided by our national values and ethics’.

The president said,

“Every company from now henceforth seeking to work with the government both at the national and county level, will have to sign an approved Business Code of Ethics domiciled in the Public Procurement Oversight Authority. I direct that the Cabinet Secretary to the National Treasury gives this code effect through regulations under the Public Procurement and Disposal Act.”

He continued,

“Any business that fails to comply with the Code will be disqualified from doing business with the government for a period not less than five years and the information will be made public. This disqualification will not only apply to the business entity but also to its directors.”

The president has time and again promised to but rarely, according to Kenyans, does he get to act decisively on matters corruption.

The president who has been a darling to many has been accused of tolerating rapacious looting by his people even worse than former presidents Daniel Moi and Mwai Kibaki could let happen.

President Kenyatta said that directors and senior bank officials will be pursued relentlessly, individually and collectively, in accordance with the law, should they succumb to the lure of breaking ‘our anti-money laundering laws and regulations’.

The unending chorus in Kenya has been that the lords of corruption have to be successfully prosecuted if the war on corruption has to be won. What is evident though is the unwillingness to pursue justice and recover stolen public property as politicians protect their own. The wheels of justice have been slowly for those with enough money to jam the system.

The president sought to assure Kenyans that something was being done.

“Following discussions with the Chief Justice, I am pleased to announce that he has committed to work with the National Council of Administrative Justice to actualise fast tracking prosecution of corruption and economic crimes as envisaged in the Anti-Corruption and Economic Crimes Act. He has also assured me that he will make every effort to ensure the setting up a division of the High Court on corruption and economic crimes.”

And again, the president said he was ‘directing the Chief of Staff and Head of Public Service to ensure that all staff working in the Kenya Revenue Authority, the Customs and Immigration departments to undergo integrity and competency vetting by an independent multi-agency vetting mechanism’.

These unending promises have seen Kenyans become wary and feel neglected. Service delivery in the public sector has deteriorated with public hospitals having no medicines, equipment and staff.

Runaway corruption has continued to drain funds diverting them to individuals’ pockets depriving Kenyans services they have paid for but cannot access.

Kenyatta said,

“In order to streamline government and thereby also reduce opportunities for theft and wastage, we will immediately enact the Parastatal Reform Bill. This is the least we can do to reflect the prudence that the Constitution enforces on us.”

These promises are irking Kenyans forcing a comparison between Kenyatta and newly elected Tanzanian President.

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On implementation of directives, Kenyatta said,

“In the past, my government has issued some of the policy statements I have announced. I have not been satisfied with a lot of the implementation, partly in regard to poor coordination and the red tape involved in implementing a new constitutional dispensation. For this reason, from now henceforth, the Chief of Staff and Head of Public Service will be reporting to me on a weekly basis on progress in implementing the measures I have announced today.”

The president who declared corruption a national security threat, just short of a national disaster, said he was directing all security agencies, the Ethics and Anti- Corruption Commission, the Asset Recovery Agency and the Financial Reporting Centre to take cognizance of this.

And in his usual style, he concluded,

“We will make it expensive for anyone stealing from Kenyans and denying them education, health, security, infrastructure, water and other services that they work so hard to receive form their government. I call on every Kenyan to be the eyes, ears, and voice of this redoubled national effort. My office will spearhead these actions and hold everyone I have mentioned today responsible to deliver.”

This is despite the fact that those who whistle-blow on corruption risk jail terms, including journalists.

About Njenga Nelson

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