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BBI gives us a chance to clean up Kenya

Saturday December 14 2019

MICHAEL CHERAMBOS
By MICHAEL CHERAMBOS
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The saying goes that we must never let perfection be the enemy of the good. And the Building Bridges Initiative (BBI) report, commissioned by President Uhuru Kenyatta and ODM leader Raila Odinga build a new and fair Kenya, is just that. The report may not be perfect, but it is good. 

The most important section of the document is the future of our democracy and corruption.

For decades, there have been calls to end graft in the country.  Finally, we have a constitutional proposal which can enshrine methods of clamping down on corruption into law. It is thus imperative that we support the BBI report.

CORRUPTION

So, what does the BBI say about corruption?

The document has been endorsed by Kenya's two most powerful families.

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The report declares that cronyism has been the order of the day in Kenya for far too long. Meritocracy has fallen by the wayside while kleptocracy and oligarchical systems disenfranchise Kenyans. The report states that tackling corruption is Kenya’s most important mission today.

The report notes that we cannot fight graft alone. We need the help of external parties and the private sector. We need transparency and accountability at all levels of governments. We deserve to know what is done with every shilling.

It recognises that it is time to break up cartels, expose middlemen, and clamp down on those exploiting the weak.

HEAVY FINES

Money laundering will be punished with heavy fines and long jail terms. New whistleblower schemes will give prizes of up to five per cent of the recovered funds for those who provide crucial information on corruption deals.

A new line of ethics will be injected into the public service. Ethics and moral standards will form a vital part of the interview process during recruitments.

Ethics will also form part and parcel of every educational curriculum. Corruption has become so endemic that it goes well beyond personal greed.  

Public servants and their families will be forbidden from partaking in public tenders. Any potential conflict of interest whether it be regarding family or personal must be declared upon entry to the government. The BBI is clear that wealth declaration forms from public officials must be open to public scrutiny.

Likewise, those who have over 50 million shillings of personal wealth must explain the source of their wealth. In the era of e-government and digital diplomacy – from payments to procurements – there is no excuse not to have complete transparency and records of everything. The judiciary also needs to be strengthened.

JUSTICE

BBI calls for special magistrates and judges to deal with the most grievous cases of corruption and serious crimes.

The Judicial Service Commission is to receive powers to discipline judges who do not meet the required moral standards and ethics.

For Kenya to move forward, corrupt judges can no longer be allowed to deliver justice in a corrupt system.

The BBI’s focus on checks and balances at all levels should be celebrated. The recommendation for new independent commissions will separate powers and encourage accountability in the judiciary.

Corruption cases cannot end with arrests, nor the indictment. To clean up Kenya, we need justice. And while there are no perfect holistic solutions, the BBI recommendations are a good start.

Mr Cherambos comments on topical issues. [email protected]

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