New laws ‘key in war on corruption’

Monday October 11 2010

TOM MARUKO | NATION. Transparency International Kenya Executive Director Samuel Kimeu (left) addresses a previous media conference in Nairobi on October 11th, 2010.

TOM MARUKO | NATION. Transparency International Kenya Executive Director Samuel Kimeu (left) addresses a previous media conference in Nairobi on October 11th, 2010. 

By WALTER MENYA,wmenya@ke.nationmedia.com

Optimism is high among Kenyans that the new Constitution will be effective in the fight against corruption, according to a new opinion poll.

However, the anti-corruption institutions in the country have an uphill task to raise levels of awareness on the interventions already in place as well as improve their effectiveness.

This conclusion was arrived at after respondents returned a negative result for the two key areas.

The poll by Transparency International Kenya, whose results were released on Monday, shows that more than 75 per cent of the respondents were positive about the new Constitution in effectively supporting anti-corruption efforts.

The survey was carried out countrywide with a sample of 1,438 between September 6 and 23 to ascertain expectations of Kenyans on corruption trends under the new constitutional order. Corruption is a major concern for 97 per cent of Kenyans, according to the poll.

The overall optimism is boosted by the belief by 60 per cent of those polled that devolution of state resources will help reduce graft.

“A significant number of Kenyans polled believe that the devolved system of government will reduce corruption because it gives the local people a say in resource allocation and use,” said Mr Samuel Kimeu, TI-Kenya executive director.

Devolution is also seen to give a greater oversight role to the anti-corruption bodies by 12.7 per cent of those polled.

Those who hold opposing views cite the lack of requisite managerial capabilities at the local level, which they say would increase corruption in the counties.

When asked the perceived challenges to anti-corruption efforts under the new constitutional order, 33 per cent of respondents cited unwillingness by government to speedily and fully implement the new laws.

Other challenges cited include failure by elected leaders to ably represent the citizens’ governance concerns, tribalism and nepotism in public affairs and citizen apathy.

Appealed to President

Thus, the citizens have appealed to the President Kibaki and Prime Minister Raila Odinga to publicly renew their commitment to anti-corruption efforts and lead a campaign for resignation of public officers suspected of engaging in scandals.

The respondents also want the President and PM to address the issue of pending corruption cases as a priority. Parliament, too, has been asked to give priority to passage of laws to support the fight against corruption such as the Bill to vet judges.

While hope is high on the capabilities of the new Constitution to support the fight against corruption, most Kenyans (54 per cent) are not aware of past anti-graft efforts initiated by the government or other non-governmental organisations.

“This is very telling about the work that has been done, which, so far, seems not to have achieved much,” remarked Mr Kimeu when he released the results at a Nairobi hotel on Monday.