By George Githinji
Corruption in Kenya is rife from the top echelons of government to the grassroots level of public service and other organs of government. It affects all ministries of national government (and recently ‘devolved’ to the county governments). The National Police Service (NPS), for example, is often declared the most corrupt institution of government. It has been accused of taking bribes and kickbacks from offenders (the wealthy and the poor alike) in order to subvert the course of justice.
The Auditor General for every financial year makes staggering findings on how government budget is unaccounted for, leading to huge loss of public funds. These ominous findings by the Auditor General are nevertheless never acted upon or followed up by the government.
The perpetrators of the multi-million Goldenberg and Anglo-Leasing Scandals are still at large and none (if any) has yet to be sentenced or forced to pay reparations. What we had with Goldenberg trials was some sort of a near ‘kangaroo court’ where the ‘not guilty’ verdict was pre-determined by the ‘powerful’ repute of the defendants.
The police service is yet to be uncluttered of its dreadful fiend of corruption because the political forces in government do not want to accelerate police reforms. In fact, to the government, accelerating police reforms to ensure the independence and sanctity of the force is equivalent to committing political suicide!
In a bid to pull the wool over the masses’ eyes, the presidential team unveiled a website where Kenyans ‘could report corruption incidents directly to the president.’ The presidential spokesperson Manoah Esipisu had been quoted as saying that “The president is committed to clean government and this site advances his intention to act strongly against corruption.” However, it cannot be established yet how effective this scheme has been since no impact assessment was made public to ascertain how effective the method is. In fact, the site is no longer accessible at all.
Both Goldenberg and Anglo-leasing corruption scandals severely incriminated the Moi and the Kibaki governments as being the major perpetrators of the vices. Most of the government officials mentioned in the reports have been shielded by the present and previous governments from prosecution, although some have had prolonged court cases on the same. The beneficiaries of these scandals are still ‘eating with a big spoon’ whereas Kenyans still grapple with the myriad circumstances under which their hard-earned and hard-paid tax was embezzled without remorse.
We recently also had the infamous ‘Chicken gate’ Scandal where top officials of the defunct Interim Independent Electoral Commission (IIEC) and the Kenya National Examinations Council (KNEC) were accused of picking bribes from Smith and Ouzman (S&O) executives in order to secure deals for the S&O. Two top officials from the Smith and Ouzman company in the United Kingdom have been prosecuted by UK’s Serious Fraud Office (SFO) and sentenced for this crime, but it remains to be seen if Kenya’s Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission (EACC) will prosecute the Kenyan culprits, since it has been known to be the infamous ‘toothless’ bulldog.
All these infamous cases show that corruption is part of the Kenya government lifestyle and it continues to thrive because the government and the public recognize but accommodate and lack the goodwill to end corruption.
The writer comments on political issues in Kenya – blogs at Politics Kenya