Building Bridges taskforce to hold meeting on corruption next month

Wednesday March 18 2020
CJ

Chief Justice David Maraga (right) and H.E. Alain Berset, President of the Swiss Confederation, last week at the Judiciary in Nairobi. Switzerland will help Kenya recover corruption loot. PHOTO | EVANS HABIL| NATION MEDIA GROUP

By PETER LEFTIE

The war on corruption is set to go a notch higher when the team spearheading the Building Bridges initiative hosts a conference to discuss the vice.

The conference, organised by the 14-member team formed by President Uhuru Kenyatta and opposition leader Raila Odinga under the Building Bridges Initiative, will be held at the Bomas of Kenya from August 6-8.

Sunday Nation has established that the conference will offer a rare platform for ordinary citizens to “look at the Executive and Judiciary in the face and tell them what they think about the fight against corruption,” said a member of the team, which has been converted into a taskforce dubbed Building Bridges to Unity Advisory.

The conference, according to some taskforce members who talked to the Sunday Nation, will bring together grassroots leaders, women, youth, elders and the disabled, among others, drawn from all the 47 counties.

Mr Paul Mwangi, who chairs the team alongside Mr Martin Kimani, confirmed that the conference is on.

FIGHT CORRUPTION

“Yes, the conference is on. We want to hear first-hand from Wanjiku what their thoughts are on the fight against corruption. This far, the fight against corruption has always taken an up-bottom approach. This conference seeks to give the common mwananchi the platform to give their views on corruption as the state and public officers listen,” said Mr Mwangi.

Sunday Nation learnt that President Kenyatta will lead members of his government at the conference. Invitation letters, we established, will be sent out this week.

Expected to attend the conference will be cabinet secretaries, principal secretaries, MPs, senators, the Chief Justice, the Attorney-General, the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP), the Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission (EACC) hierarchy and governors, among other State and public officers. Also expected at the conference is Mr Odinga.

“We do not expect any of the State or public officers to speak at the conference; we expect them to just sit through and listen to the common man,” said the source.

The taskforce, the sources said, was still working on logistics of picking members of the public who will attend the three-day conference.

SOCIAL MEDIA

“We are working on modalities of having a representative group of delegates to attend the conference. We want it to be as representative of the interests of the over 40 million Kenyans as possible.”

Besides collecting the common man’s views at the plenary, the taskforce will also reach out to Kenyans through various social media platforms including Facebook, Twitter and WhatsApp.

“All the views expressed through social media will be incorporated in the final report,” said another member of the taskforce.

At the end of the conference, delegates will pass resolutions which will inform the government’s approach towards fighting corruption in the country, the Sunday Nation learnt.

The conference comes against the backdrop of a heightened battle against senior ranking State and public officers suspected to be involved in corruption.

On Saturday, detectives from the Directorate of Criminal Investigations (DCI) went for Kenya Power chief executive Ken Tarus and his predecessor Dr Ben Chumo and 11 out of the 12 general managers in the fight against Sh500m theft charges at the corporation. They are expected to appear in court on Monday.

CHARGED IN COURT

Busia Governor Sospeter Ojaamong was also arrested and charged in court over corruption in a move which prompted the Council of Governors to demand that county bosses be given immunity against prosecution while in office.

Also facing corruption charges in court include top National Youth Service (NYS) officials led by the former Director-General Richard Ndubai and former Public Service Principal Secretary Lilian Omolo.

Also in court are former Kenya Bureau of Standards (Kebs) top brass led by the CEO Charles Ongwae. They are facing charges related to the importation of substandard fertiliser into the country.

The taskforce has been given one year to submit its comprehensive advice to President Kenyatta.

Through Gazette notice NO 5154 dated March 24, Head of Public Service Joseph Kinyua laid out the terms of reference based on the joint communique issued by President Kenyatta and Mr Odinga after their March 9 meeting, promising to end the "explosive stalemate" following the raucous October 2017 election.

BUILDING BRIDGES

In their joint statement titled "Building bridges to a new Kenya nation", the two leaders announced the rollout of a programme that will implement their shared objectives of tackling ethnic antagonism and competition, lack of national ethos, inclusivity, devolution, safety and security and corruption. The government wants the team to evaluate the national challenges outlined in the joint communique and make practical recommendations and proposals that build lasting unity.

The team will also be expected to outline the policy and implementation modalities for each identified area.

It has also been mandated to conduct consultations with citizens, religious leaders, cultural leaders, the private sector and experts at both county and national levels.

"In the performance of its functions, the taskforce shall regulate its own procedures including appointing revolving co-chairs from among its members," the Gazette notice says.

Both Mr Mwangi and Mr Kimani are the joint secretaries and spokespersons of the taskforce.