Thursday, July 17, 2008

Raila & Karua attack government on corruption

Prime Minister Raila Odinga and Justice Minister Martha Karua on Wednesday tore into the anti-corruption policy of the very Government they serve. By virtue of their positions, the statements only added to the confusion that has characterised the war on corruption.

As Prime Minister, Raila is charged with supervising and coordinating functions of Government, which has been the breeding ground for corruption. On her part, Karua is the custodian of the Justice machinery. In principle, the two should serve as the fulcrum around which the battle must be fought. On his part, Raila appeared to plead lack of political will, but Karua attacked the Executive, accusing it of failing to live up to its promises. And by calling for the return of celebrated anti-corruption czar John Githongo, who fled the country in 2005 amid claims that his life was in danger, Raila appeared to openly express dissatisfaction with the individuals and institutions charged with the task.

Speaking at the third National Integrity Review Conference at Bomas of Kenya, Nairobi, the two Cabinet members cited lack of unity of purpose and an ineffective anti-corruption policy as reasons for the spiralling vice. They said more than three years after the Anti-Corruption and Economic Crimes Act was passed, the approach to fighting graft lacked a common focus and coordination, with public perception remaining unchanged. Said Raila: “Unwavering political will must be demonstrated in fighting corruption with action towards zero tolerance on graft. Political will must extend to all those in authority and public institutions.” Raila was speaking when he opened the anti-corruption review conference.

On her part, Karua said: “The Executive has failed to live up to its promise and commitment to fighting graft.” She went on: “Kenyans will be the judges of our success. They should ask us any questions because they have a right to know and we must not answer them begrudgingly. The Executive has fallen short of commitment to fighting the vice. We cannot effectively enforce integrity with loose laws and weak policies.”

Raila and Karua spoke at a time the spotlight is on three Cabinet ministers. Amos Kimunya stepped aside as Finance minister to pave way for investigation into the sale of the Grand Regency Hotel, while Immigration Minister Otieno Kajwang’ appears to be steadily weathering a storm over claims that he misused his discretionary powers to award permits to foreign nationals. Deputy Prime Minister and Trade Minister Uhuru Kenyatta is also in trouble over accusations by the ECK and his counterpart in Local Government, Musalia Mudavadi, that he fiddled with the list of civic nominees and gazetted it against the advice of the electoral team.

Old corruption networks
Raila said Kenya had slowly degenerated and joined the league of most corrupt countries in the world, like Nigeria and DRC, “without decisive action from top Government echelons”, which he is now a part of. He described corruption as a crime whose impact had far-reaching political, social and economic consequences and a vice Kenyans must rise against.

Those who attended the two-day conference were Francis Muthaura, the Secretary to the Cabinet and Head of Civil Service, Fatuma Sichale, the Deputy Director of Kenya Anti-Corruption Commission, MPs and a host of senior civil servants. The conference was to review achievements, problems and failure in the fight against corruption. Participants will also share experiences in fighting corruption, identify priorities and plan future action.

Karua challenged the Grand Coalition to take the unique opportunity and bi-partisan approach and suggest policy and legal options to rid Kenya of corruption once and for all. “So long as we have pending cases of old corruption arising from transactions of Goldenberg, Anglo-Leasing and the Ndung’u Report, we cannot clear the backlog. The perception will be that the Government is still tolerating corruption,” Karua noted. However, Raila and Karua admitted that the Government faced legal and policy hurdles in the fight against corruption. “While the Kenya Anti-Corruption Commission tries to freeze assets acquired corruptly in foreign jurisdictions, our own courts have issued injunctions against the same,” Raila said. Both challenged Kenyans to stop politicising the war against corruption. Said Raila: “A corrupt person does not steal public property on behalf of his tribe or political party. He does so for his personal gain. Don’t say we are being finished or our tribe or party is being targeted politically when we are dealing with corruption cases.” Backing Karua’s stand on unfinished business of old corruption, Raila said it was embarrassing to see people named in corruption cases reports of Public Accounts Committee and Public Investments Committee of Parliament demonstrating and accusing others of the vice.

On Wednesday, inviting Githongo, who is in exile, back, Raila said: “He should not fear for his life. Nobody will persecute him in this Kenya. We are dealing with issues of corruption. He should come back and live here.”

1 comment:

HLumiti said...

This posturing by Raila and Karua is pathetic. They occupy two crucial offices in government that ought to effectively deal with the very issues they purport to be concerned about. What they are now demonstrating is impotence for which they can quite easily lose the substantial goodwill they currently enjoy from citizens nation-wide. Raila and Karua had better do some real work rather than fill the airwaves with endless speech.

Is Raila (the government?!) running out of scapegoats that he has to call on Githongo? Citizens are getting wiser by the day and this filibustering is just not sustainable.