Who will cleanse the temples in Kenya?

Friday March 20 2015

Chairman of the Public Accounts Committee Ababu Namwamba when he appeared before the National Assembly’s Powers and Privileges committee, which is investigating corruption allegations against MPs, on March 12, 2015. PHOTO | JEFF ANGOTE

Chairman of the Public Accounts Committee Ababu Namwamba when he appeared before the National Assembly’s Powers and Privileges committee, which is investigating corruption allegations against MPs, on March 12, 2015. PHOTO | JEFF ANGOTE | NATION MEDIA GROUP

As members of the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) trade accusations of corruption, the chairman cites his team’s investigation of Sh2.9 billion involving the Defence Principal Secretary as the cause of his troubles.

While he is accused of having been paid off, he blames some members of his committee as having been beneficiaries. Now, isn’t that corruption playing games with corruption? Whichever side is guilty, what is clear is that the watchdog has turned fox in the hen house.

In mid-February this year, a UK court indicted the directors of Smith & Ouzman Limited in the “Chicken” scam.

A few weeks later, it emerged that Goodyear, a US tyre firm, will have to forfeit $14.1 million in illicit profits to the Securities and Exchange Commission and also interest of $2.1 million following the discovery that it also paid bribes to officials of foreign governments and companies in Angola and Kenya between 2007 and 2011.

GRAND CORRUPTION

During that Grand Coalition administration, alleged cases of grand corruption included the maize, fertiliser, national identity cards, free primary education and sugar scandals.

Corruption is one of the country’s most serious governance issues. In November 2014, through one of its quarterly surveys, Ipsos polled Kenyans on various socio-economic, cultural and political issues.

Among them was an evaluation of the Jubilee government on 13 policy areas compared to the Grand Coalition government’s performance.

It revealed that whereas more than half of Kenyans thought that the current government is doing better in terms of health services and education, 59 per cent thought it is worse in handling of corruption.

In the same Ipsos survey, half of Kenyans stated that they were aware of major reports or cases of corruption in the country since April 2013. Most frequently mentioned were: the police recruitment scandal, the Karen land saga, Coast region land issues, the stalled laptop project, the standard gauge railway project, bogus pastors, KCSE exam leakage, the Deputy President’s jet scandal, Malili ranch issues, bribery in the Judiciary and ICC cases. Also mentioned was misuse of central government and county resources, among others.

HAVE IMPLICATIONS

Revelations about the Smith & Ouzman Limited and Goodyear bribery cases, and their successful closure abroad or in Kenya, will certainly have their implications on how Kenyans will react to future business ventures, be it with the West or the East.

More than terrorism, corruption is Kenya’s biggest threat. Untamed, it will soon bleed the destitute, working poor and the rising middle class to death.

There is no doubt that relief is far off, until someone gets into the temple, chases the money-changers and overturns the tables of the pigeon traders. But who will do this?

The writer is a public affairs researcher at Ipsos. Views expressed are his own. [email protected]

Advertisement