Keep politics out of the war on graft, Archbishop Eliud Wabukala

Chairman of the Anti-corruption campaign Steering Committee Archbishop Eliud Wabukala(left) and the Acting Director of Anti-corruption campaign Steering Committee David Gathii address the press at ACK Gardens on 20/3/15 [PHOTO/BEVERLYNE MUSILI/STANDARD]

The National Anti-Corruption Campaign Steering Committee (NACCSC) has sounded a warning that the war on corruption could be lost owing to the confusion in the manner it is being executed.

NACCSC has particularly taken issue with the purge within the Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission (EACC), questioning why major changes should be made at the commission at a time more than 175 crucial corruption cases are being investigated.

Archbishop Eliud Wabukala, the committee chairman, says removing top EACC officials in the midst of major investigations creates suspicion and could bungle the war on corruption altogether.

Wabukala, who is also the head of the Anglican Church of Kenya (ACK), has cautioned that unless the fight on corruption is handled with extreme care, political merchants may bungle it.

“The decision by President Uhuru Kenyatta to crack the whip was welcome. But there is no clear strategy on how this war is being fought and how it will be concluded. We need a clear road map,” Wabukala told The Standard on Sunday.

On Wednesday, MPs voted to kick out EACC chairman Mumo Matemu and his deputy Irene Keino after adopting a report by the Justice and Legal Affairs Committee to send the two home.

“The problems at the commission are attributable to both the commissioners and the secretariat, and the two cannot work together,” read the report.

The ongoing probe against top State officials and the future of the secretariat took centre stage as MPs haggled on the fate of the commissioners and that of Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Halakhe Waqo.

Waqo survived the purge after 103 MPs voted to save him from being dismissed as had been proposed by Ruaraka MP TJ Kajwang. Seventy two MPs voted to suspend him.

Mr Kajwang wanted Halakhe kicked out as the Justice and Legal Affairs Committee had indicted him for persistent insubordination. The committee also accused him of “acting like God’ by not allowing commissioners to do anything without reverting to him.

In the report tabled in the National Assembly on Tuesday evening, the committee had concluded that a petition by Geoffrey Oriaro, a lawyer, had established sufficient grounds for establishment of a tribunal to probe the two.

EACC Commissioner Jane Onsongo had earlier resigned while deputy chief executive officer Michael Mubea was on Monday suspended for 90 days pending investigations into his conduct.

Mubea is in charge of operations at the commission and oversees the directorates of investigations, prevention and legal services.

Matemu had earlier in the week said seven governors, five Cabinet Secretaries and four Principal Secretaries mentioned in the ‘list of shame’ tabled in Parliament by the President are to be arraigned in court in two weeks.

The 16 are among the 175 senior government officials in the EACC dossier released by President Kenyatta last month.

But the NACCSC has demanded that the ongoing war on corruption be shielded from politics.

Wabukala also reignited the debate on whether elected leaders dogged by corruption scandals should step aside to pave way for investigations. “Why should a cabinet secretary step aside yet a Governor or an MP linked to corruption remains in office?” he said.

Although President Kenyatta had asked elected leaders on the EACC list to step aside, only Nairobi Senator Mike Sonko did so. The MPs, senators and governors mentioned in the list of shame say the Constitution provides that they can only be recalled by the electorate.

Wabukala wants Kenyans to take the war on corruption positively. “NACCSC also wants to see the Legislature, Judiciary and Executive work as a team in getting Kenya back on the road to achieving zero-tolerance to corruption,” says Wabukala.

NACCSC is charged with creating a nationwide awareness through public education and sensitisation campaigns to enable Kenyans shun corruption.