To win war on graft, centre must hold

Eric Mukoya
The call to protect and dissuade Kenyans from corruption is an overrated commitment. If it were politicians we would treat the same with disdain and disinterest, but from the five most respectable offices in the corridors of justice. 7 th , February 2019 the most powerful offices of justice jointly stated in public to effectively work against corruption. The statement, read by the Chief Registrar of Judiciary came at the backdrop of accusations and counter accusations of who was sabotaging the corruption war. Under the banner of National Committee on Administration of Justice (NCAJ), the Office of the Director Public Prosecutions (ODPP), Director of Criminal Investigations (DCI), Chief Executive Officer of the Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission, Witness Protection Agency and Chief Justice in the honorable company of the Attorney general assured the public of swift and collaborative approach to scale down graft.
Efforts to kill corruption are emphatic in rhetoric but the outcome is often absurd. The
country has had corruption conferences among other consultations with pledges to upstage the scourge. However, huge financial loses in procurement, county expenditures, unwarranted budget in line ministries, many unnecessary abroad travels for learning by civil servants and state officers, poor workmanship and low quality infrastructure are disheartening. Our taxes are wasted on unsustainable projects, not mentioning local, bilateral and multilateral loans that pile up public debt for which 45.5% of country revenues is given as annual repayment. Without rubbishing the allegations on the implications of a delayed or unpaid Chinese debt, it is quite harrowing to imagine that public assets of national value including those depicting Kenyan identify could be confiscated for such financial borrowing.
This background makes the partnership between the five public offices an interesting
subject. Three questions arise to help us understand the relevance of such collaboration: first, what holds together the commitments? Second, what is the partnership likely to achieve: and, third, why should the partnership matter now? The impatience and anger of the general public cannot be overemphasized. Wanjiku is tired and less energized to believe again. This may explain and justify the timing. The fatigue of ordinary Kenyans is due to complacency of these institutions and the anger, unfortunately to the judiciary, though only an arbiter! it is important for Kenyans to demand alternative and effective approach to scuttle corruption and its agents.
Besides, there is pressure from most obvious and unlikely quarters. A president who promises not to protect anyone engaged in the vice. A former Prime Minister wondering why chicken gate suspects in the UK were jailed yet their accomplices in Kenya let scot free. A Deputy President acknowledging that land upon which seats a hotel associated with him was fraudulently acquired.
This is political goodwill that NCAJ has picked and must translate into multi-stakeholder drive against corruption.
The partnership is welcome however, the following must happen to enjoin public support.
The Director of Criminal Investigations must sharpen investigations and adhere to the advice of the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions (ODPP). The investigating officers (IOs) must
stand the test of time and resist bribes that demean their investigations. They must avail police files when and if required, besides providing witnesses including those who seek protection to the court. In short they must be professionals. Likewise, there must be clarity between investigators of the Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission (EACC) and those of the National Police Service, drawing a line of who bears the brunt of shoddy investigations in graft cases. The EACC must be aware that raiding suspects houses in the wee hours of the morning will not improve evidence collection. Remember corruption is an organized crime and those who engage take precaution including destruction of paper trail. On the other hand, the ODPP must be told, that delegated prosecutorial powers to the EACC has some responsibility. Framing of charges, presentation of evidence and submissions in an adversarial system requires brilliance and deep understanding of the law. Equally, arresting suspects without sufficient evidence is inexcusable.
Similarly, the Witness protection Agency should be seen to work. The judiciary, must listen with neutrality, giving the law the image of impartiality and posterity, even where injunctions, orders, bail and bond policies are observed.
We celebrate this partnership by warning our corrupt siblings to walk the path of
corruption alone. We understand it as mutuality of minds to slain the dragon of corruption by the excellence of key individual institutions for corrupt free Kenya. Protecting Kenyans from huge financial loses, repayment of public debt not accounted for, poor health and medical care, low quality education, inequitable distribution of government services and blatant abuse of law. We are allowed to trade blame only if our contribution is above board.
Executive Director of Legal Resources Foundation Trust.

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