By Paul Ndiho
Since the inception of reforms in the early 1990s, analysts say Kenya has made greater strides towards democracy. Executive power has been lessened and the legislature and judiciary now have considerable autonomy. Despite these gains, observers say corruption and abuse of power continues.
The leaders of Kenya’s fractious grand coalition played down fears of a crisis in government as the parliament reopened. Prime Minister Raila Odinga and President Mwai Kibaki have been in a tense coalition since 2008. Their unity government has struggled to make progress on reforms. The latest crack in the union emerged when Odinga suspended two ministers to allow investigations in their ministries. But during President Kibaki’s speech to parliament, he reassured Kenyans that the country is on the right track.
“We, as the grand coalition government, have resolved to deal with the matter decisively. I am calling on the august House to work with the government in this endeavour. In order to win this war, we must apply the law in a manner that is impartial and just.”
Dr. Migai Akech a fellow at the National Endowment for Democracy, says that Kenyans are tired of the political rows.
“It’s difficult to say but they have to find a way to co-exist. I think it’s in the interest of both of them to co-exist.”
Observers say political corruption and abuse of power in Kenya spans the era of the Jomo Kenyatta. In 2009, Transparency International ranks Kenya among the world’s most corrupt nations. Mr. Akech says that there is a need to create mechanisms to enhance the accountability of the three branches of government.
“In terms of how corruption runs in Kenya, I think it’s a case of both. You have corruption at the top but you also have corruption at the bottom. And often I think we focus to much at the top level but we shouldn’t forget that there is much corruption at the bottom level which is equally problematic.”
Political analysts in Kenya say that during Daniel Arap Moi’s erra, corruption was widespread. In the 1990s, Moi was part of the Goldenberg scandal, where smuggled gold was exported out of Kenya. Mwai Kibaki was elected president in 2002 on the promise to end corruption in Kenya. But Ackech also says that there is culture of impunity in Kenya, and that has to change.
“It’s a culture that laws don’t apply and I mean just look at drivers on the streets in Nairobi… Many people don’t follow traffic rules. So I believe it has much to do with the mind set, I think the education system has much to do with it in that sense but also rules matter.”
Kenyan government says that the coalition government vows to work together to establish a plan to fight corruption and bring about the reforms that were promised to Kenyans.