From #CheckenGate to #TyreGate, now PAC, Kenya, lately, seems to latch from corruption scandal to corruption scandal. Just when the Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission (EACC) appears to be awakening from its slumber by finally bringing the culprits of the decades-old Anglo Leasing scandal to book comes revelations that the Public Accounts Committee (PAC), Parliament’s powerful watchdog body, is also mired in sleaze.
With everything that’s happening, it’s never been more important to hear from a government “insider” on how Kenya found itself in this position. In this multiple-part expose Capt (Rtd) Collins Wanderi, the Chairman Kenya Institute of Forensic Auditors, gives a fly-on-the-wall account of how corruption is choking Kenya.
PART 1: Lessons from working in three regimes
I have been in government long enough (3 regimes) to know and appreciate that:
- Kenyans have no problem with corruption as long as the person(s) involved or suspected of involvement is from their tribe, clan and family, County or Village. In case you did not know, even nepotism; clanism & tribalism or helping a relative to be employed whether in government or private company is CORRUPTION under our law!
- Kenyans hardly do things in time; they rush the last minute and prefer shortcuts instead of following established and/or statutory procedure. Such people are and will always be ready to pay an inducement to cover their own indolence.
- That for as long as political parties in Kenya are funded by business racketeers & wheeler-dealers, criminal cartels and syndicates, corruption will never end. It will always remain part and parcel of our national pastime. Corruption and transnational crime fund our politics. Period.
- That fighting graft; investigating & prosecuting corruption is the most dangerous & thankless job anybody can do in Kenya. If you doubt me ask Prof. PLO Lumumba & Justice (Rtd) Aaron Ringeera.
- That out of every 100 employees in Government, there will be 80 good ones (grass eaters) and 20 bad ones (meat eaters). The meat eaters are in it for gain and they have daily, weekly, monthly and annual personal targets. The 20 percent make all the others look very bad and the public demoralizes the 80 percent by making wholesome condemnations. The country would gain more if we learnt to recognize, appreciate and positively reinforce the majority good ones.
PART 2: Corruption in the current regime: The big snake in the room
Corruption in Government: The Big Snake in the Room
- On March 4, 2013 Kenyans elected very many people into office, President & Deputy President; Governors & Deputy Governors; Senators; MPs & MCAs. Subsequently others like Cabinet Secretaries, Principal Secretaries, County Executives & Chief Officers were also appointed into office. What this large state bureaucracy means is that the number of rent seekers and bribe takers in the government has increased almost 5 fold (Apply the 80/20 Rule I mentioned earlier). All these functionaries together with peddlers of influence close or related to them are taking from the same size of economy and public that existed before March 2013. This is why everybody else is feeling the pain of excessive bureaucracy which is preying on us; our resources & taxes.
- When Mwai Kibaki took power in 2003 he purged the top echelons of the public service; sacked all Ministry/Parastatal Procurement Officers at a go and scattered the entrenched cartels and syndicates which controlled the provision of goods and services to government and in many instances even appointments to public office. Although he later paid a heavy political price for this action, all civil servants got the message. Nobody was invincible or indispensable. This is how & why most of Kibaki’s flagship projects were completed in time.
- 2 years since they were sworn into office, President Uhuru Kenyatta & his Deputy William Samoei Ruto are yet to make a clear and unequivocal statement on corruption; particularly in relation to procurement of goods and services by government. I wrote in October 2013 and reiterate once more that the old order remains intact and the old cartels and syndicates know it. They are exploiting this to access government contracts and largesse. Maybe this is why all the flagship projects of the Jubilee government always have a stench of staleness. I will give just one example: The Big Snake in the Room!
- Some infrastructure projects in Kenya began when somebody was the Chief Engineer Roads. He was later promoted to Permanent Secretary. Then the projects stalled and remain incomplete to date but the contractors were paid. He was promoted to something bigger by this regime and those projects are now buried and forgotten. There is one in my village which is now over 10 years old, so I am speaking with facts. This person may be a blue-eyed boy of the regime, but also its weakest link as far as infrastructure projects are concerned. Due to the entrenched culture of “protectionism” and “I owe you; you owe me” in the public service, this person can never discipline juniors who worked with him before he was promoted, they know him, he owes them! Now you know why almost all infrastructure projects have virtually stalled; and, the cow-boy contractors are back in business!
Coming up in PART 3 and 4: A personal encounter with corrupt MPs and taking a peek at Kenya’s corruption files.
The author is an Advocate of the High Court of Kenya and the Chairman Kenya Institute of Forensic Auditors. You can follow him on Twitter @DecaptainCFE.