Government officers found culpable of graft risk being blocked from holding public office should a proposed amendment to the Anti-Corruption and Economic Crimes Act (Aceca) become law.
The amendment proposed by Moiben MP Silas Tiren, currently before the National Assembly, seeks to ensure individuals involved in misappropriation of public funds are held personally liable.
The Aceca Bill, 2019, targets managers, chief executive officers and directors of public institutions.
It seeks to bar anyone convicted of an offence committed under the Act from holding any public office. In what will cause tectonic shifts in the governance sphere, those convicted of corruption or economic crimes shall stand disqualified from seeking political seats or appointment into public offices for 10 years immediately they are convicted.
“A person convicted of an offence of corruption or economic crime, and was involved in the management of a public company, institution or State organ that suffered pecuniary loss as a result of the corruption, shall be personally liable for such loss,” the bill states.
Currently, those who oversee the loss of public funds are cushioned from individual responsibility under the doctrine of collective responsibility in government offices.
The bill has already undergone first reading. If passed, it will be a big boost to the Ethics and Anti-Corruption (EACC), the Directorate of Criminal Investigations (DCI) and the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) in fighting rampant corruption within the public service.
The bill seeks to provide a framework for publishing the names of those disqualified from assuming public offices in the Kenya gazette at least once every year so that it becomes easy to weed them out during electioneering period.
It also provides that a person who is personally liable is jointly and severally liable in terms of all the losses incurred by the public institution.
Kiharu MP Ndindi Nyoro had a similar amendment to this law when he sought to have individuals found culpable of corruption subjected to capital punishment, which includes either death or life sentence. However, the bill flopped in the second reading when MPs ganged up to shoot it down.
“I urge my colleagues, regardless of their political affiliations, let us pass this law as it is if the change we desire has to be realised,” Mr Tiren said.
He said the agriculture sector is the worst affected when it comes to embezzlement of funds.
“We have seen those accused of looting public institutions elected as governors, MPs and MCAs. Others have been appointed chairmen of parastatals and chief executives, while others are now diplomats abroad. This must come to an end,” he added.