Clearing Waiguru was EACC’s low moment

A good look at the EACC clearance of the former CS points to a very well laid out script.

Wednesday February 17 2016

Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission CEO Halakhe Waqo addresses the press in Mombasa on January 22, 2016.  PHOTO | KEVIN ODIT | NATION MEDIA GROUP

Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission CEO Halakhe Waqo addresses the press in Mombasa on January 22, 2016. PHOTO | KEVIN ODIT | NATION MEDIA GROUP 

From the latest revelations from the courts touching on the Sh791 million National Youth Service saga, it’s clear that former Devolution Cabinet Secretary Anne Waiguru is not off the hook yet.

But more importantly, the revelations raise important questions regarding the role of the Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission and the politics of fighting corruption.

A good look at the EACC clearance of the former CS points to a very well laid out script. All those who wanted to understand what was going on did not need to have the skills of Sherlock Holmes.

Because of the perception that State House was protecting Ms Waiguru, and this was voiced publicly from different quarters, claims that the same State House was hounding her should have been taken with a large pinch of salt.

Yet, this was the story after police ‘raided’ Waiguru’s Sh100 million residence in Runda, Nairobi.

Before this interesting spectacle, there were concerted efforts to create a whistleblower out of the Cabinet secretary. This strategy seems to have floundered, with the result that the CS resigned. The EACC then was accused of working at the behest of the CS instead of treating her like a suspect.

The wavering of the EACC on the matter did nothing to water down the perception that it was involved in a scheme.

At first, it faithfully reported its findings to the CS; when lawyer Ahmednasir Abdullahi made claims to the effect that the CS would be a witness, the Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission first kept silent, then, in the face of public criticism, spoke meekly against this line of thought. The position of EACC on this has been a complete muddle.

FIGHTING CORRUPTION

To the extent that corruption is used by the elite as a way of accumulating, that is, it determines, albeit illegally and immorally who gets what, when and how, the fight against corruption itself will always have political dimensions.

Institutions fighting corruption can suddenly develop memory problems and can be used to bring some people to book while at the same time ‘clearing’ others.

Add to this institutional heads who are ever ready to join the state patronage bandwagon and you have a complete picture of why they do not function.

It is not the first time Kenya’s anti-corruption institutions have been seen to be captured to drive certain agendas. In 2006, three ministers in Kibaki’s regime resigned from office as a result of public pressure. This followed the Anglo-Leasing scandal.

The public pressure was organised by the Name and Shame Corruption Networks Campaign.

This civil society initiative was a reaction to early suspicions and revelations of graft in the first Kibaki administration and the obvious abuse of power by the single chamber Parliament as constituted then.

Members of Parliament had developed the habit of increasing their emoluments every now and then in defiance of the Constitution, which even then had a provision disallowing this obvious conflict of interest.

After the resignation of the ministers allegedly involved in Anglo-Leasing, the sceptical part of the public opined that it was simply a matter of time before they were given back their dockets, given their closeness to the Head of State.

The Kenya Anti-Corruption Commission, then under Aaron Ringera, did not disappoint. Towards the end of 2006, KACC cleared the ministers. This put paid to any illusions that President Kibaki would wage a serious anti-corruption war as he had promised during his inauguration into office.

PRESENTING EVIDENCE

As is the case of the EACC at the moment, Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission then assumed the brief, not of investigating and presenting actionable evidence to prosecutors, but that of finding ‘evidence’ to prove that the suspects were clean.

No wonder nothing much has come out of Anglo-Leasing investigations and prosecutions so far.

Anne Mumbi Waiguru’s tantalising script will not be complete without mentioning her intention to vie for the Nairobi governors seat in 2017.

Without insinuating any guilt or otherwise on her part in the massive loss of money at NYS, the pattern so far established is classical in a Kenya sense.

Many civil servants with integrity questions often seek political positions so as to clean themselves of past culpability, allegations or suspicions such as those facing the former CS.

This is part of the reason we have ended up with an overwhelming number of members of Parliament having different court cases.

The writer is the president of the National Civil Society Congress [email protected]

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