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President is best suited to end corruption

Saturday August 24 2013

PHOTO | BILLY MUTAI Mr Mumo Matemu shortly after he took his oath at the Supreme Court to chair the Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission on August 5, 2013.

PHOTO | BILLY MUTAI Mr Mumo Matemu shortly after he took his oath at the Supreme Court to chair the Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission on August 5, 2013. NATION MEDIA GROUP

AHMEDNASIR ABDULLAHI
By AHMEDNASIR ABDULLAHI
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The honeymoon for President Uhuru Kenyatta is over.

With his presidency now almost six months old, he has established his government, built both its foundations and the main pillars and branches to support it. It is time now to start building his legacy and achievements for the coming four years.

Even Cord leader Raila Odinga realises the honeymoon for the Kenyatta government is over. That is why he is criss-crossing the country trying to set the narrative of the day’s politics and grab the political initiative from the President.

It is still the early days in the Kenyatta presidency but the signs are all very positive. Emphasis on the economy, job creation, infrastructure, industrialisation and youth empowerment look like good priorities for the administration. All these sectors are critical and a focus on them all is the right thing for President Kenyatta. Former President Mwai Kibaki has been there before and left his legacy in a number of areas.

But I think President Kenyatta isn’t taking advantage of or emphasising some critical areas where he enjoys natural advantages. One such area is leading the fight against corruption.
It is on this fertile land that President Kenyatta should sow the seeds for his legacy.

First, Uhuru Kenyatta is the first President in Kenya’s history that no one ever accused or even suspects to be on the take. A President who cannot be accused of being corrupt is a priceless blessing, more so in Africa. It is precisely because of this glowing political virtue that many tribally neutral Kenyans voted for him in the last election.

A country whose President is known to receive bribes and kickbacks has no future. Such a country is literally for sale!

Second, if the Head of State is not on the take, everyone below him should follow that example. Unfortunately in the Kenyatta administration that message has not trickled down. A number of reasons inform this policy failure. It is still early and the President has not settled down well as a result of the long time it took to put the bolts and nuts of government together.

More fundamentally, Mr Kenyatta’s anti-corruption credentials have been severely compromised by his retention of a number of powerful individuals in the Kibaki administration who still hold vital organs whose credentials as corruption-free is in doubt. Through this omission, Mr Kenyatta seems to have sent a mixed message.

President Kenyatta should turn his attention to three organs to show Kenyans he is dead serious in fighting corruption. These are the Department of Criminal Investigations (DCI), the Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission and the Directorate of Public Prosecutions. He must call an urgent crisis meeting of these bodies and set targets.

It is the below-par performance of these three bodies that has dented this country’s credentials as an adherent to the rule of law.

The office of the DPP has realised the challenges it faces. To his credit, Mr Keriako Tobiko has undertaken an ambitious plan to revamp and recast this department. He needs support and resources to build a credible prosecution body.

President Kenyatta must help him in that regard. The anti-corruption body has been on its deathbed for many years. Now, with the chairman sworn in, it must be re-launched. Similarly, the government needs to see how it can help the Department of Criminal Investigations.

Emphasising economic development without a robust re-engineering and investment in the rule of law will lead to thriving corruption and misplaced priorities. It will lead to wastage and leakages.

President Kenyatta needs to be held in fear when it comes to the fight against corruption.

He must have a masterplan and share it with Kenyans. He must lead this war on corruption from the front. He must assure us that there are no sacred cows in all three arms of government.

Ahmednasir is the publisher, Nairobi Law Monthly [email protected]

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