Disband EACC and cohesion commission

Sunday March 20 2016

Integrity Centre in Nairobi which houses Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission offices. Recently, corruption scandals have touched on many possible perpetrators with a great deal of focus being on government and politicians.  PHOTO | SALATON NJAU | NATION MEDIA GROUP

Integrity Centre in Nairobi which houses Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission offices. Recently, corruption scandals have touched on many possible perpetrators with a great deal of focus being on government and politicians. PHOTO | SALATON NJAU | NATION MEDIA GROUP 

By LUKOYE ATWOLI
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Anyone studying Kenya’s governance framework would arrive at the conclusion that two commissions, the National Cohesion and Integration Commission (NCIC) and the Ethics and Anticorruption Commission (EACC), are really white elephant projects of our post-2008 constitutional experiment and should be disbanded.

The National Cohesion and Integration Act was enacted in 2008, and the commission was created shortly afterwards. According to the Act, the main object of the NCIC is to “facilitate and promote equality of opportunity, good relations, harmony and peaceful co-existence between persons of the different ethnic and racial communities of Kenya, and to advise the Government on all aspects thereof.”

Twenty specific objectives are listed in the Act, most of which are to ‘promote’, ‘facilitate’, ‘monitor’, or ‘recommend’ one thing or the other.

It is difficult to pinpoint any benefit accruing from having the NCIC that could not have been gained through other existing offices or authorities.

All citizens are required to be vigilant in protecting our constitutional rights, and the investigating and prosecutorial authorities are meant to present those that infringe on these rights to the judiciary for appropriate action. In my view, this commission is totally superfluous, and we would suffer no prejudice were it to be disbanded.

In fact, the NCIC has taken to creating work for itself, requiring state bodies to prepare periodic reports outlining the ethnic composition of their workforce and other measures of ‘integration’. This is the classic hallmark of a useless state body, creating paperwork to sustain itself in office.

It is a good thing that it is not a constitutional commission, and its disbandment would not require any changes to the constitution.

In contrast, the Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission is a constitutional commission, established to ensure compliance with, and enforcement of, the provisions of Chapter six of the Constitution.

Chapter six prescribes the behaviour expected of State officers, including their eligibility to hold office, how they exercise the authority assigned to them, and the management of their personal finances. It sets out the guiding principles of leadership and integrity, including merit-based appointments, objectivity in decision-making, selfless service, accountability, and discipline and commitment in service.

ENACTED LEGISLATION

Parliament then enacted legislation to give effect to this chapter, setting out ethical codes and their custodians, and prescribing penalties for contravening the provisions of the Constitution and the Act.

In other words, we managed to describe exactly what constitutes bad manners in leadership, and set out how we intended to punish such bad manners.

The anti-corruption campaign has a long history in this country, beginning with the precursors of the EACC until it was enshrined in the Constitution.

One common thread that has run through this campaign has been its use as a cynical tool to hoodwink citizens and our ‘development partners’ that we are serious about prudent use of State resources, while in reality we are intent on milking the entire system dry.

In my opinion, no regime has taken the anti-corruption campaign seriously, and in fact, appointing authorities are often extremely surprised when those they appoint into anti-corruption offices start taking their jobs seriously.

In my view, the existence of the EACC is positive proof that we have never been serious about fighting corruption. If we wanted to run a clean operation, we wouldn’t require a specialised agency whose job is to tell us when some of us are engaging in corrupt deals.

Once we write corruption and economic crimes into our laws, we only need to have the criminal investigative agencies to do their job, the prosecutors to take the culprits to court, and the judiciary to take the appropriate action. An EACC would therefore be, and I submit that it is, superfluous in an environment of law and order.

The only true purpose these two commissions serve at the moment is to be an avenue for providing jobs for the boys, totally defeating the stated purpose of their creation!

Atwoli is associate professor of psychiatry and dean, School of Medicine, Moi University; [email protected]