alexa Setting the record straight: I fully back KACC and its war against corruption - Daily Nation

Setting the record straight: I fully back KACC and its war against corruption

Wednesday January 12 2011

By RACHEL SHEBESH

My attention has been drawn to an article by Clay Muganda (DN, January 11) on “selective justice” and the purported lobbying for the disbandment of the Kenya Anti-Corruption Authority by myself and a few ODM legislators.

I have also received flak from friends and foes over utterances made by certain ODM members on this issue. I accept political responsibility for those utterances made in a platform I shared with my party colleagues.

Collectively, as a political class, we have failed when you consider the dissonance between public expectations and parliamentary performance.

That we are behind schedule on the implementation of the Constitution, and that we keep shifting positions on issues such as the establishment of a local tribunal, are all testimony to this. For this reason alone, I will not accept criticism from shifty politicians too seriously.

For the record, let me clarify my position regarding the now infamous meeting of ODM legislators in which I took part on the day Mr Henry Kosgey was arraigned in court by KACC.

As legislators, our main roles are legislative, representation and oversight. On that day, I played my watchdog role by ensuring that constitutional offices like KACC are alive to the aspirations of all stakeholders and will be called to account even when they are doing a good job.

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I fully support the KACC’s efforts in fighting graft and impunity in all its forms. I neither support the disbandment of the KACC nor the withdrawal of Kenya from the International Criminal Court.

In law, the party, race, tribe, and gender of any individual under investigation for corruption or crimes against humanity do not matter.

Of course, it would be naïve to disregard the historical application of justice on corruption and its unholy alliance with the ruling class.

We have a new Constitution with miles of thorny terrain to cover before we can achieve constitutionalism. This is the reason that when I see a motherly traffic policewoman being chased by KACC officers, or small-time drug addicts being arrested, my heart goes out to them.

They are merely symptomatic of the larger malaise afflicting society. That they have broken the law is not in doubt. When my party chairman is arraigned in court, it is not that I doubt the competence of KACC, the judicial system or even due process. I lament because the country is still shackled by political shenanigans of the old culture.

Let us face the facts: Kenya is a country of mega-corruption scandals. The ruling class has systemically pulverised citizens into forgiving them.

How many times in the past have Kenyans waited with bated breath for the big hammer to fall on the perpetrators of scandals, from Goldenberg, Anglo Leasing, Grand Regency to maize, and Triton oil?

The braggart Artur brothers reigned supreme, running roughshod over all and sundry, including threatening to unleash their vicious dogs on security personnel? Their punishment? A well-orchestrated graceful exit!

Putting it in the context of the “infamous” ODM legislators’ conference, I am guilty of being impatient with dusty shelves of old unresolved corruption files.

I am also guilty of being passionate about the need for a holistic and integrated approach to attacking impunity. Despite the negative public perception of Parliament, a great deal has been achieved through House committees.

In their oversight role, they have come up with several credible reports with actionable recommendations highlighting procurement anomalies, financial imprudence, acts of impunity and other improprieties. But these reports have received token attention. Why?

The lack of constitutionalism, and hence my apprehension even as we applaud the KACC today, is that impunity is still being perpetuated blatantly at the Executive level.

Senior government officials will carry on their work even where common sense dictates they should resign. We must keep the target of zero-tolerance to corruption and impunity in focus. Let us not be sidetracked by other fads.

The new KACC leadership has shown more zeal than their predecessors in fighting graft. But can we assume that because KACC is equal to the task, the Attorney-General’s office is also equal to the task?

This apprehension is excusable if we don’t lose sight of the 20-year track record of the current AG. It speaks for itself.

The new Constitution is a godsend. As legislators, we need to move fast to restore credibility in the judicial system. We must fast-track all the Bills and supporting legislation necessary to reform the Judiciary and the police.

In parting, impunity continues when Parliament remains on recess considering the looming drought and the fact that they have missed the target for implementing the Constitution.

Ms Shebesh is a nominated MP, ODM.

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