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State capture foils Uhuru's anti-corruption campaign

Thursday May 23 2019


Inuka Kenya Chief Executive Officer John Githongo addresses guests during the launch of a report titled State Capture: Inside Kenya’s inability to fight corruption, at Laico Regency Hotel on May 22, 2019. According to the report, the war on graft is far from over. PHOTO | FRANCIS NDERITU | NATION MEDIA GROUP 

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A damning report has indicted the State for being “captured” by systemic forces of corruption, leading to theft of public resources.

The Africa Centre for Open Governance (AfriCOG) report released Wednesday in Nairobi says elites and private interests are calling the shots.

State capture, considered one of the most pervasive and harmful forms of corruption, refers to a situation where powerful individuals, institutions, companies or groups within or outside a country use corruption to shape a nation’s policies, legal environment and economy to benefit their own private interests.

The AfriCOG findings suggest the vice is systematically planned across many institutions, and the denials and inaction by the government mean ordinary Kenyans bear the brunt.


The document says the State has succeeded in the art of speaking out against corruption while endorsing it behind the scenes.


“Successful State capture networks in Kenya have had two elements. One on the bureaucratic side, a coterie of favoured officials allowed to accumulate and exercise power in completely unaccountable ways often behind the shield of presidential privilege, State security or defence procurement.

“On the business side, there is often a clique of local businessmen allied to political insiders, or alternatively, the favoured groups are shadowy, international companies whose shareholders are known,” says the report, State Capture: Inside Kenya’s inability to fight corruption.

It cites Goldenberg, Anglo Leasing and the Eurobond as some of the mega State-capture scandals whose investigations have over the years become a routine circus because of collusion, fightbacks and endless legal manoeuvres.


There have been fears that President Uhuru Kenyatta’s war on corruption is losing momentum, with some MPs starting the push for the sacking of top government officials implicated in graft.

Those who support this plan say it is wrong for the government to dilly-dally in arresting individuals implicated in the theft of public money.

Mr Wachira Maina, a constitutional lawyer who authored the report, explained that corruption continuous to defy legislation, tough talk and ranks.

While analysing the contents of the report, Mr Maina said that in Kenya, State capture has taken many forms.

These range from interfering with the Judiciary to bribing members of Parliament to enact laws — or defeat legislation.


But the government’s reaction to recent revelations of high-level corruption has been typical.

“Publicity-driven prosecutions are likely to deepen rather than undermine corruption, as indictments and prosecutions get weaponised to partisan ends for the 2022 elections,” the report says.

Mr Maina said: “The war against graft has been too activity-driven and has become a tool for resolving Jubilee’s internal problems. We have adopted a capture, mark and release mentality and this war cannot be won by using the same old tired means that have been tried and defeated in the past.”

The report says winning the war against corruption will remain a tall order if the anti-corruption agencies continue to adopt this strategy.