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Speed up corruption cases

Saturday January 25 2020

EDITORIAL
By EDITORIAL
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One of the factors that distinguish a civilised society is fidelity to due process.

Suspects are presumed innocent until proven guilty by a competent authority, which is a court of law.

This applies to all irrespective of the charges being faced, be they petty thefts, the looting of public coffers or even capital offences.

The suspects must be accorded an opportunity to challenge the charges in court and they have a right to be represented by counsel.

Today, there are hundreds of civil servants, including Cabinet and principal secretaries, who are facing graft charges.

Because their former positions are so crucial that they could not have been held in an acting capacity for too long, they have subsequently been filled.

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Several governors have also been charged over graft and barred from accessing their offices until they are cleared.

The civil servants arraigned for corruption remain on the payroll at half pay, as their cases continue.

It is a double burden for the taxpayers, as the new holders of their positions get full salaries, while they receive half for doing absolutely nothing.

Should they win their cases, they will have every right to demand the balance of their pay during the trial, even if they are not reinstated.

Unless their services are terminated or their contracts expire, these public servants are entitled to half pay until they retire.

As the war on corruption intensifies, the numbers of accused officials on half pay will increase, further straining the public coffers.

The government will be paying millions of shillings every month to people who will not be adding any value to its operations.

Some of those who have already won their cases are suing their employer, the government, for damages and the awards will further drain the public coffers.

The Salaries and Remuneration Commission (SRC) says the government has no option, as it must honour contractual obligations.

However, it is also its cardinal duty to ensure there is value for every coin of public money spent.

As SRC chairperson Lyn Mengich has rightly stated, the only solution is to speed up the hearing of all the corruption cases so that those cleared can go back to work and those convicted can be struck off the payroll.

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