Staff crisis hits anti-graft agency
The fight against corruption is grinding to a halt after the contracts of employment for 62 staff expired on Monday.
Of those, 12 are investigators, the people charged with tracking down offenders and building the evidence against them.
Another 11 are in the operations department, which is also crucial to anti-graft fight because they are charged with raiding premises and helping in the arrest of offenders.
At the moment, the Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission does not have commissioners, the senior manager who are supposed to run it.
Parliament has not approved the three nominees presented to it by President Kibaki and Prime Minister Raila Odinga.
The staffing crisis at KACC means that for all intents and purposes, the graft watchdog is grinding to a stop, if it already hasn’t.
According to the EACC Act 2011, the staff members shall cease to be employees of the commission once their terms ended.
But they will be required to be vetted if they are to continue with their work.
Without commissioners to organise the vetting, retention or replacement of staff, the organisation has been plunged into a crisis.
On Monday, EACC spokesman Nicholas Simani said the commission was aware the contracts of some staff had expired.
“The commission is looking at the law to find the best way of addressing this situation,” he told the Nation.
He said acting secretary Jane Muthaura was consulting with the Justice ministry and other arms of government, including the Attorney General, to reach the best solution.
He was of the view that the commission would have reached the best solution by the end of Monday.
In the meantime, Mr Simani said, the commission was doing everything possible to ensure its operations were not affected.
No documents regarding ongoing investigations will be lost, he said.
But he added: “It is true some operations have slowed down.”
“Once we have new commissioners in place, every employee will have to be vetted as set out in the Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission Act.”
In the absence of the commissioners, the 62 officials are likely to leave the commission in much the same way as left its directors and advisory board members.
Last year, the President Kibaki signed into law the Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission Bill into law paving the way to the removal of KACC director Patrick Lumumba and his deputies.
However, middle level managers remained in office and were to be absorbed by the new commission after being vetted.
The advisory board led by chairman Okong’o Omogeni announced the departure of Prof Lumumba’s team before appointing senior managers to oversee the agency’s work until new commissioners take office.
But the advisory team’s 90 days in office, too, expired on December 5.
They team left office to obey the EACC Act. However, anticipating loophole that could arise in the absence of new commissioners, then Head of Public Service Francis Muthaura appointed principal officer (Finance and Administration) Ms Muthaura to continue as acting secretary.
Parliament failed to pass names of the three nominees for commissioner at the agency after the Justice and Legal Affairs Committee said they did not have the passion to fight corruption.
Rejecting Mr Mumo Matemu as boss of the commission and Ms Irene Keino and Prof Jane Onsongo as commissioners, the team said the three did not have the drive and passion to fight corruption.
Mr Matemu, a former commissioner with the Kenya Revenue Authority, was also questioned over integrity issues, with MPs accusing him of failing to collect taxes during his tenure at KRA.
A motion to approve or reject the three proposed commissioners is expected before the House any time.
The names of the three sailed through the House by one vote as MPs debated the report by the House Committee on Justice and Legal Affairs before the House took a break last year.