KENYA’S ANTI-CORRUPTION DRIVE
By Paul Ndiho, Washington D.C.
October 29, 2010
A study published earlier this month by the Berlin-based group, Transparency International shows that 97 percent of Kenyans view corruption as a big problem in a country. Kenya is sending an anti-corruption message to the highest levels of government.
Transparency International’s 2010 Corruption Index ranks Kenya eight places lower and nearer to countries on the bottom rung of the list of 178 states. Two high profile Kenyan government ministers faced corruption charges; Minister of Foreign Affairs Moses Wetang’ula, and Higher Education Minister, William Ruto. Both of them are off the job and the allegations are under investigation.
“I have made a personal decision to step aside from my responsibilities and my appointment as Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Kenya to give room and pleasure to those who have been haunting and tormenting me for the last three, four weeks, to give room to the very able arms of investigation.”
Analysts say Kenya has made strides towards democracy. Executive power has been lessened and the legislature and judiciary have better autonomy. But observers say abuse of power continues. Kenya’s president, Mwai Kibaki came to power in 2002 on an anti-graft platform, but his fight against graft has failed to impress critics. Mr. Kibaki credits a new constitution with giving Kenya new muscle to wrestle corruption. During his speech to parliament this year, the president assured 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 endeavor. In order to win this war, we must apply the law in a manner that is impartial and just.”
In October alone, four senior officials in Kenya have been named in corruption scandals. No government minister has ever been convicted of graft in Kenya, where corruption is widespread. Dr. Migai Akech, a Kenyan political analyst, says that there is culture of impunity in Kenya.
“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.”
Nairobi residents say the new anti-corruption drive is long overdue and has generated optimism.
”I think with the dispensation of the new constitution, I think this is high time that Kenyans should wag the dog and I think this is high time that we should eradicate corruption completely in Kenya. The culture of impunity and corruption are issues that have been hunting us down”.
”There has been some progress, but mainly the big fish are being arrested, but the normal corruption that usually occurs like in the transport sector and local authorities like in the city council, they should take also charges, maybe they should put more people in investigation.”
Kenya’s coalition government vows to work together to establish a plan to fight corruption and bring about promised reforms. But surveys show most Kenyans view corruption as endemic, and analysts say corruption has stifled economic growth.