Report: Weak anti-corruption agencies to blame for Kenya's low ranking in graft index

Wednesday January 27 2016

Transparency International Kenya executive director Samuel Kimeu. Kenya has scored poorly in the new global corruption index report released by TI on January 27, 2016 ranking it among the worst performers. PHOTO | FILE | NATION MEDIA GROUP

Transparency International Kenya executive director Samuel Kimeu. Kenya has scored poorly in the new global corruption index report released by TI on January 27, 2016 ranking it among the worst performers. PHOTO | FILE | NATION MEDIA GROUP 

By JACQUELINE KUBANIA
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Kenya has once again been ranked among the most corrupt countries in the world, with the newest Transparency International (TI) report ranking it at position 139 out of 168 countries.

According to the 2015 Corruption Perception Index released by TI on Wednesday, Kenya retained the same score, 25 points of a possible 100, it had in 2014.

TI blamed Kenya’s continued dismal performance on the incompetence and ineffectiveness of anti-corruption agencies, saying that the failure to punish individuals implicated in graft has been a major stumbling block.

“The Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission, the Department of Public Prosecution and the Judiciary all bear collective responsibility for high corruption levels in the country. These three departments are responsible for investigating, prosecuting and adjudicating corruption cases and they have failed to deliver,” said TI Kenya Executive Director Samuel Kimeu.

Mr Kimeu added that the failure to recover assets acquired through dishonest means has also contributed to an unabashed culture of corruption in the country.

The anti-corruption report also attributed Kenya’s poor ranking on a shrinking media space, lack of public access to information and a Judiciary that is not independent.

REGIONAL PERFORMANCE

Kenya had the same score as Uganda but performed worse than its neighbours Rwanda and Tanzania who scored 54 and 30 points respectively.

Burundi came last in the region with a score of 21 points.

The best performing countries in the world remain the Nordic countries led by Denmark with an index of 91.

Finland came second at 90 points, followed by Sweden and New Zealand with 89 and 88 points respectively.

The reports listed war-torn Somalia and the reclusive North Korea the worst performers, each with 8 points, and appearing at the bottom of the rankings.

Although President Uhuru Kenyatta has continually declared a “zero tolerance” war on graft, going as far firing cabinet secretaries named in corruption allegations, there has been little in the way of convictions of corrupt individuals.

Indeed, despite a flurry of investigations and arrests of high profile individuals named in corruption allegations, the last time such individuals were convicted and jailed was in 2012 when the former Kenya Tourism Board managing director Achieng’ Ong’onga and former Tourism Principal Secretary Rebecca Nabutola were sent to prison for up to four years each for defrauding the ministry.

Even then, they served for a little more than two months before they were freed on bail pending the hearing of their cases at the Court of Appeal.

During a meeting with the Parliamentary Public Accounts Committee last Monday, Director of Public Prosecutions Keriako Tobiko said that the fastest it takes to take a corruption case through the courts is five years.

“There is a trend by high profile individuals to stall cases against them by making applications to the High Court and this has been a major stumbling block,” he said.

He told the committee that 300 individuals have been arraigned on corruption-related cases arising from the so-called list of shame presented to Parliament by the President last year.

According to Mr Tobiko, his office has in the past six years taken to court several high profile individuals including six former cabinet secretaries, three senators, eight for principal secretaries and 12 Members of Parliament. Others include 18 heads of parastatals, four governors and three county speakers.