Why recent graft forum was just a theatre of conflict

Delegates follow proceedings at the National Anti-corruption Conference at Bomas of Kenya on January 25 [Boniface Okendo, Standard]
I watched with keen interest the proceedings at the recent multi-sectoral anti-graft forum at the Bomas of Kenya.

The presentations by key speakers lacked an in-depth understanding. This was due to a number of statements that appear not to be supported by research.

The press equally performed dismally in reporting the proceedings. Despite the presentations needing obvious improvement, the press failed to bring this out. The findings of the survey on the multi-sectoral perception of graft in Kenya could have been more vigorous. It provided a base year for evaluating the fight against graft in that if we did a similar survey next year, the findings can be compared against this year’s, thus making it possible to tell whether we are winning the graft war or not.

The findings of the survey equated graft to theft, with 60 per cent of the respondents saying they have never received a bribe. If this sample is representative of our nation, then a majority of us are not good citizens.

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More disturbing was that 83 per cent of respondents have paid a bribe, meaning that nearly half of the population is prone to corruption Not good at all.

Hawking degrees

When asked whether leaders in the academia are well equipped to fight graft, 64 per cent said no.

Even when asked whether they are utilising their positions to fight corruption, 86 per cent said no and the rest said yes. This is a reason for worry.

The academia is better placed to understand corruption and fight it.

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Universities should be the last place where corruption should thrive because of the citadel of wisdom and knowledge. Corrupt universities would be spreading lies as knowledge and even hawking degrees.

The sad conclusion was that there is corruption in academia. It was also reported that 84 per cent of professionals have the ability to fight corruption. However, more disturbing was that 88 per cent of the professionals have given a bribe, according to the study. The survey results on the media were most worrying, with 86 per cent of the respondent saying they were not effectively fighting corruption. Only 47 per cent have received a bribe.

Over 99 per cent of the respondents from the private sector said they have paid a bribe, with only 67 per cent of them receiving a bribe. The presenter failed to rank factors that promote graft in terms of importance.  Such factors include selfishness, greed, poverty, ethnicity and ignorance of the law. The survey can be improved to provide a framework for taming corruption. This was a good attempt to understand graft. What lacked, though was data from the economists on the impact of graft on the quality of our lives.

Statutory bodies

Also lacking were numbers from the judiciary detailing graft cases and how they differ from others as well as the numbers from the statutory bodies in charge of fighting corruption. Numbers do not lie. What came out was the feeling that the courts are letting us down. President Uhuru Kenyatta was specific when he urged the courts to stop using injunctions when it comes to dealing with economic crimes.

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The President has access to top intelligence and such a statement is likely to be anchored on quality reports.  Over 30 years ago, a professor at the university taught us about the qualities of a good auditor.

The key issue was independence to maintain the credibility of an audit report. However, it is not enough to say you are independent; you must be seen to be independent. 

There are people who do not see the courts as independent and the judiciary should address this constituency. Recently, the Chief Justice warned new magistrates that the judiciary does not entertain or condone graft within its ranks.  Well, what do the citizens think of the courts? The DPP must be aware that there must be sufficient competent and reliable evidence to allow the judge to make a fair judgement.

One reason why people pay or take bribes is an obvious lack of faith in the courts.  

-The writer teaches at the University of Nairobi

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