The National Council of Churches of Kenya (NCCK) has proposed a one-year amnesty for corrupt individuals to declare and surrender all illegally acquired funds in one of its most recent radical proposals to deal with graft.
Those who fail to take up the offer, the church said, should be jailed for life, and the funds they acquired corruptly be recovered from them.
“Offering this amnesty will provide a critical incentive for beneficiaries of corruption to repent, speed up justice for Kenyans who have suffered immensely on account of corruption, and enable us clean up our past,” NCCK General Secretary Rev Canon Peter Karanja told journalists in Limuru on Thursday.
In giving the amnesty, the NCCK said, the deal should only cover the one-year period, and those that engage in graft after the period, even if they had repented and returned stolen goods, should be punished.
The team also called for the Ethics and anti-corruption Commission (EACC), a body they said had become a toothless dog, to be stripped off its powers to investigate, and instead have those powers vested on the Directorate of Criminal Investigations, with the Director of Public Prosecutions tasked with taking corrupt individuals to court.
Without naming individuals, the NCCK also called for the resignations of government officials who were at the helm of the National Youth Service in the reported Sh9 billion scandal, those in the health docket in the Sh5 billion scandal, and governors manning various counties and who have been named to be corrupt.
“Corruption must attract speedy, visible, public and effective consequences regardless of who engages in it so that all people realise that their corruption, cheating, stealing and abuse of office are expensive undertakings,” Rev Karanja said, quoting Ecclesiastes 8:11, on how people are filled with “schemes to do wrong” if punishment for crimes are not meted out quickly.
While asking President Uhuru Kenyatta to declare corruption a national disaster, the church called for harsher penalties for corruption, tightening the law on election and campaign financing, as well as that of wealth declaration.
“Given the casual declaration by then EACC chairman in 2016, up to a third of Kenya’s budget is lost to corruption. That means this year, up to Sh700 billion will have been stolen within the last 12 months,” Rev Canon Karanja said.
The amount, the church said, was enough to pay 230,000 doctors Sh250, 000 each per month for a whole year, meaning that Kenya will have the capacity to put 30 doctors in each of the 8,000 health centres.
“Corruption is a real threat to the life of every Kenyan. Kenyans, get very angry about corruption and take action!” Rev Karanja said.
The church also called for the expansion of the Executive to follow through their proposal last year for an appointed prime minister with two deputies from the majority side.