The level of impunity in Kenya is beyond description. This is especially on corruption regarding senior government officials and politicians. Kenyatta’sJubilee Government has shown lack of political will to fight corruption or take action against senior Government officials and politicians when implicated in graft charges. Many reports exposing grand corruption schemes and failure to stop corruption and other acts, omissions and cover up have been produced linking top Government officials to corruption schemes. Yet little or no decisive action has been taken against them. In this article, I discuss three issues. First, the projects that have been undertaken by the Government and have been laced with corruption. Second, how the relevant Constitutional and procurement laws have been violated. Third, how and why Kenyatta is yet to take any decisive action against top government officials alleged to have been involved in corruption. Lastly, what measures that needs to be taken to curb run-away corruption.
Since independence, Kenya has suffered from widespread corruption that is evidenced in most sectors of public life. This has led to a culture of impunity. Kenyans pushed for a series of anti-corruption reforms, including successfully voting in a new Constitution in 2010. The Constitution under Articles 35, 201,227 and 232 has clear provisions for citizen access to timely and accurate information and participation. These relate to public financial management and policy formulation, procurement of public goods and services as well as values and principles of public service. All of these constitutional provisions are relevant to the fight against corruption in Kenya. What operationalizes these articles of the Constitution are the various Acts of parliament relevant to specific sectors of the economy, for instance, the Public Procurement and Disposal Act.
Corruption and graft is most prevalent in public procurement and especially tendering which is regulated by the Public Procurement and Disposal Act. Section 2 of the Public Procurement and Disposal Act, 2005, is elaborate on the purpose of the Act. Top on the list, is to maximize economy and efficiency as well as to increase public confidence in procurement procedures. But most of these constitutional and legal provisions have been ignored by Kenyatta’s Government especially in the tendering process. This has led to the culture of impunity thriving unabated. Impunity is now risking Kenya’s stand as the regional commercial hub. Therefore, the government must uphold its constitutional and legal obligations in the tendering process.
Since Kenyatta’s Jubilee Government took over power in March 2013, there have been many reports of corruption regarding government tenders. For instance, the handling of the Standard Gauge Railway (SGR) tender is one of the indications of lack of political will to fight corruption. The Government continues to deny allegations that the award of the project work of about 500 billion shillings to be built mainly by a Chinese loan and contractors, was overpriced and opaque to cater for corrupt interests. There is also the about KES 25 billion projects intended to provide laptops to standard one children that has been halted. It was the subject of a court case (Republic v Public Procurement Administrative Review Board & 3 others Ex-Parte Olive Telecommunication PVT Limited, Judicial Review Application 106 of 2014) over a tendering dispute, with hints of shadow boxing and vicious behind -the-scenes fights pitting various corrupt political and business interests.
Fighting corruption in Kenya is the obligation of every citizen of Kenya but it requires political will and leadership from President Kenyatta. The president made a promise in 2013 to weed out corrupt officials from his office. So far no decisive action has been taken. Some senior government workers mentioned adversely as having carted away about KES8 billion from the Central Bank of Kenya (CBK) towards the end of Kibaki’s tenure, are still working under him. Also, in 2013, Kenyatta also launched a web portal to encourage users to report incidents of corruption directly to him. However, there has been no public feedback on its contents and a cursory check shows it is not operational. There are also convictions based on the claims that top Government officials in IEBC and KNEC received bribes in “chicken gate” to award printing tenders to a UK firm. Kenyatta has maintained unusual silence over the same for political reasons. In the process, the electoral process has been compromised to the advantage of some and taxpayers’ money has ended up in the pockets of few interested individuals. Therefore Kenyatta should not mislead Kenyans that he is fighting corruption if he is not ready to take action against people in his government.
Therefore, it is my view that we need to realize constitutional principles and values. These includes fairness, equity, transparency, competitiveness and cost-effectiveness as well as of increasing public confidence in procurement procedures, Kenya requires the right leadership realize these. Kenyatta should tackle corruption with the resources and prowess that he controls. He also needs to strengthen governance and transparency institutions by letting them operate without his Government interference.
Hon Tim Wanyonyi is the MP, Westlands Constituency.