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Rekindle war on graft to reassure Kenyans

Sunday May 12 2019

EDITORIAL
By EDITORIAL
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The Catholic bishops have spoken and we reinforce their voice. The war against corruption appears to have run aground. It seems President Uhuru Kenyatta and the various agencies have given up on pursuing high-profile cases. Unless the President does some magic, the investment made in fighting corruption risks dissipating and so does his legacy. But that is not surprising.

When the President reconstituted leadership of the investigative and prosecutorial agencies last year, we sent out a word of caution. Change of leadership at the Directorate of Criminal Investigations or the Directorate of Public Prosecutions does not translate into a win for the graft war. Much more is required – courage, commitment, political will, sacrifice and tenacity.

True, the DCI boss George Kinoti and his counterpart at the DPP Noordin Haji took the office with gusto and are credited for revitalising the anti-corruption drive. A few months into office, the two, in a well-coordinated approach, raided government departments and parastatals, unearthed massive cases of corruption, made arrests and quickly pushed suspects to court. Hordes of top government officials and parastatal honchos were seized and charged in court and for a while, there was hope that finally, the war was real and that graft lords would be locked in and their ill-gotten wealth appropriated by State. But not much has happened since then.

First, all the cases have stalled in the courts due to poor investigations, lethargy and alleged corruption in the Judiciary. Two, politicians poisoned the campaign when they took to the rostrums to vilify the agencies for purported biased or politicised investigations and prosecution of graft suspects. Third, and what seemed to have been the last straw, is President Kenyatta’s lukewarm approach to the fight.

The public had expected that President Kenyatta would use the annual State of the Nation address in April to ask those adversely mentioned in corrupt deals to leave office as investigations continued. He did not. Instead, he reasoned that the campaign must be anchored on evidence and the rule of law. No dispute about that.

However, he inadvertently demonstrated that he had either given up or succumbed to external influences to go slow.

President Kenyatta must signal strong political commitment by sacking corrupt public officials. The Judiciary must also play its part through quick disposal of corruption cases. In the meantime, the public must remain vigilant and shame the corrupt.

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