Aggressive campaigns in the past two years to end corruption are yet to pay dividends.
Kenya continues to rank among the most corrupt countries, posing a serious threat to its economic growth as well as social and political stability.
In the latest corruption ranking done by Transparency International, Kenya scored 28 out of 100 points in 2019 in the corruption ranking index, an improvement of one point from the previous year, but which still puts it in the lower quantile and below Africa’s average of 32 points. The global average is 43 points.
A particular point of concern is that Kenya ranks among the worst in East Africa, sharing the position with Uganda.
Rwanda, a fast-growing economy, is the least corrupt country in East Africa with 53 points, which leading position it has maintained for several years. Tanzania was second-best with a score of 37 points.
Weak regulation, political funding, administrative constrictions and legal lapses accounted for the high levels of corruption in Kenya.
Politics, for example, is a big theatre for corruption. Every election cycle, political candidates throw in colossal sums of money to win seats; they buy voters and influence outcomes.
In turn, they engage in corrupt dealings once they ascend to office as they seek to recoup their investment during the campaigns while creating a war chest for future electoral contests.
Parliament, which is the seat of lawmaking, has itself been converted into a den of corruption where MPs and senators cut deals with corrupt government officials.
County government and assemblies are equally worse off, such that, if in the past the lamentation was that corruption was a national shame, it has since been devolved to the counties with catastrophic effects.
In 2018, President Kenyatta undertook a major restructuring of the government’s investigative agencies.
Fresh appointments — the Director of Criminal Investigations and the Director of Public Prosecutions — were made to push through the war against corruption.
And, for a while, the offices intensified the war with tangle results. Several top government officials were seized and charged in court over corruption.
However, few cases have been concluded and the culprits convicted and punished.
The court system has itself floundered, among other reasons, due to high-level graft. Cases delay and, when concluded, some rulings are curiously skewed in favour of the masters of graft.
Investigative agencies are not any better, often deliberately presenting weak cases that cannot survive the test in court.
In the circumstances, the government has to take a fresh look at the strategies for fighting corruption and institute drastic measures to slay the dragon.
The cost of corruption is incredibly high and the country cannot be perennially locked in the web of the vice.