20 Oct Corruption? Sorry, my Hands are tied!
By Elias Muhatia
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The summit on governance and accountability held on Tuesday 18th of October 2016 at the State house saw every sector of leadership blame another for failure to deal with corruption. The institutions mandated with fighting corruption such as the Judiciary, the Attorney General, the Director of Prosecutions, and the Investigative agencies went on a blame game why most corruption cases never succeed. According to a survey by PriceWaterhouseCoopers (PwC), Kenya is ranked third globally among the most corrupt countries. This might not sound important to that Kenyan deep in the village or somewhere in the informal settlement of major cities. For them, getting the basic daily needs is more important than engaging in such discussions. This menace seems to be so deep rooted in our society to the point of giving up attaining solutions. It is a big shame to the reputation of the country.
First, let us review the history of fighting Corruption in Kenya that dates back to 1956. (History of fighting corruption: courtesy of Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission) In 1956, the Prevention of Corruption Statute was enacted and it came into operation since August 1956 to May 2003. Anti-Corruption squad under the Police Department formed in the year 1993 was mandated with enforcing the Act. However, in 1995 the squad was disbanded before achieving any significant progress.
The Kenya Anti-Corruption Authority (KACA) was formed in 1997 through the amendment of the Prevention of Corruption Act. The first director to KACA was John Harun Mwau appointed in December 1997. Mr. Mwau was however suspended after barely six months in office. Justice Aaron Ringera later succeeded him in March 1999. The KACA was disbanded in 2000 due to conflicting with the powers of Attorney General and the Commissioner of Police. The high court had also ruled that the provisions in establishing the Authority were in conflict with the Constitution.
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The Anti-Corruption Police Unit that was created by the Executive Order in 2001 therefore inherited the functions of the Authority. This unit performed the function of dealing with corruption cases until the establishment of Kenya Anti-Corruption Commission (KACC) in May 2003. Retired Justice Aaron Ringera who was its first Director headed KACC. Justice Ringera however resigned due to the pressure from parliament that led to the appointment of Prof P.L.O. Lumumba in September 2010.
The KACC was disbanded in August 2011 through the act of Parliament that established the Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission (EACC). This saw the appointment of Mr Mumo Matemu as the chairman of EACC replacing Prof Lumumba. The life of the commission was short lived as the commissioners resigned in 2015. Finally, Mr. Philip Kinisu was appointed as the chairperson of the commission in 2015 and sworn into office in January 2016. He was not the lucky one either as his term in office came to end barely eight months later due to being associated with Esaki Ltd company that was adversely involved in the National Youth Service scandal.
Having reviewed the long history on efforts to curb corruption, many questions linger. Why is it that no single individual has led the Anti-Corruption commission for the full term? Are we getting better or have stagnated where we were as a country back in 1956 even before we attained independence? Does it imply godfathers of corruption have always transferred their way of life to young ones? A complex problem we are facing but we need to take the discussion a notch higher. Trying to do things the same way we have done before might not lead to changes. The discussions about governance and accountability can go further. I would wish such summits be conducted quite often, as most Kenyans tend to forget essential matters and dwell more on non-essentials.
A leader from my tribe making away with large sums of money fraudulently from the government should be treated as a thief to face economic crimes and not a fight on my tribe. We should treat corruption the way it is; an economic disaster and not something to emulate. Chinua Achebe stated that when greed and shameless corruption are presented as ‘virtues’ to be emulated, you know that morality and morale are near the bottom of the scale of values. All Kenyans have a role to play in fighting corruption and not to blame leaders. On the other hand, our leaders have to assume responsibility and avoid blame game. Young ones should be taught that it is not cool to be corrupt, and that handwork is the way to get rich without causing harm to whole country by siphoning public funds. Let us start untying our hands and be able to fight corruption using all mechanisms at disposal.
Elias Muhatia is a finalist student at Kenyatta University and a young leader in Kenya. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org